Thursday, March 26, 2009

Purplish Delights

This is a redbud, known to scientists as Cercis canadensis. It is a small tree, one of the first to flower in early spring, they are out now in Raleigh. Its other common name is Judas tree. Redbud is a member of the legume or bean family, the Fabaceae, and like all members of this family, actually enriches the soil it grows in. Legumes have tiny nodules on their roots designed to provide ideal habitat for nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These bacteria have the unique ability to capture nitrogen gas from the atmosphere and convert it to a form of nitrogen that the redbud, and any other plant, can take in through its roots as fertilizer. They generally make more of this fertilizer nitrogen than their host plant needs, and the extra enriches the soil for later plant growth. And since plants cannot take in nitrogen from the air, this is a very good thing. So besides providing an absolutely stunning splash of purple, redbuds are also good for the soil.

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