Appearance

The Judas tree, Cercis siliquastrum, is a small deciduous tree that can grow to 12m tall and 10m diameter. It often forms a low and irregular 1-sided dome and is decumbent with age, the branches upswept from ground level.

Bark:

  • purplish and folded or ridged when young
  • becomes grey, with numerous fine brown fissures

Twigs:

  • glabrous, dark red-brown at first
  • become grey in places, with conspicuous lenticels

Buds:

  • 3-5mm
  • narrowly conic
  • dark red
  • appressed, hidden in the bases of the leaf-stalks then rimmed by their scars

Leaves:

  • alternate
  • 6-10 x 10-12cm
  • reniform to broadly and bluntly obcordate, slightly sinuate, entire, obscurely mucronate, glabrous, 7-nerved
  • brownish-bronze-tinted when expanding, becoming matt-grey-green, more glaucous below
  • petiole:
    • 5cm
    • yellowish-green, dark red-brown at base
  • stipules deciduous

Flowers:

  • hermaphrodite
  • appear before the leaves in May
  • borne as sessile clusters or short racemes of 3-6 flowers on year old, or older growth, often directly from the wood (cauliflory)
  • 1.4-2.0cm long
  • pale rose to magenta, rarely white
  • keel exceeds the standard
  • 10 stamens, free
  • ovary short stalked
  • pedicels slender, to 2mm

Fruit:

  • a strongly flattened oblong pod, 5-10 x 1.3-1.8cm
  • narrowly (1.5mm) winged on the ventral suture
  • pale purple turning dull brown
  • hang vertically and persist on the tree into winter
  • more or less dehiscent
  • 8-12 seeds, flat
  • calyx persistent as circa 15 whiskers to 1cm long