Redbuds With Very Few Messy Seed Pods

Ugly Seed Pods on Redbud (C. canadensis)

A few years back my church pastor complained about the ugly load of seed pods covering the redbud branches (Cercis canadensis) on the property in the fall. My suggestion to avoid messy seed pods is to plant seedless redbud cultivars.

A number of native redbud (C. canadensis) cultivars produce few to no seed pods. Let’s start with the cultivars ‘Ace of Hearts’ and sister seedling ‘Little Woody’ which may set fewer than a dozen per tree per year. ‘Hearts of Gold’ (with chartreuse foliage) often sets low pod numbers one year and produces heavy amounts the next.  ‘Forest Pansy’ (with dark purple foliage) sets a small scattering of pods annually.

‘Merlot’ is a new glossy wine red foliage redbud from the North Carolina State Redbud Breeding program, and it produces few pods. The pods which form after flowering rarely set viable seeds and the pods abort early. ‘Flame’ is a rare double flowering form, most of which are sterile and the tree sets very few pods. 

‘Don Egolf’ Chinese redbud (C. chinensis ‘Don Egolf’) is female sterile and develops no seed pods. 

‘Traveller’ (C. texensis) is a weeping redbud hardy to Zone 6 and its flowers are sterile and podless.  “I have seen only one pod on ‘Traveller’ in 20 years”, says Dr. Dennis Werner, NCSU Ornamental Plant Breeder.

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