Our 2023 EFN seed catalogue is now online! 100+ new varieties. Over 40 different growers and foragers from across the country. A million thanks to all who make this possible, especially our amazing seed-house crew!
NEW FOR 2022. Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is a native leguminous tree frequently planted as a landscape plant. It also provides one of spring's most easily foraged foods: the vividly colored magenta-pink blossoms which are produced in profusion on every branch of the tree (and sometimes even the trunk!). The flavor is reminiscent of sweet green peas, and they're reportedly rich in vitamins and trace minerals. A 2006 study found the flowers contain high levels of the much sought-after antioxidant anthocyanin. Some people like to eat the young pods as well, which resemble slender little snowpeas. Grows into a small tree and once it matures will readily re-seed itself and/or spread by root suckers.
I (Nate) like to use redbud flowers (or flower buds) in a wide range of dishes, but they're especially well suited in salads. I like to mix them with shredded root veggies (beets, carrots, celery root, parsley root, etc), add a little vinegar or lemon juice, and that's it! I've made some delicious biscuits featuring the flowers (see photos). And they also make really tasty fritters.
These seeds were collected from two mature trees that grow by my house in Elmer, NJ. We're offering these seeds as botanical samples to get you the freshest seed possible (which means they have not been germination tested). I know that these trees make quite viable seeds though, because seedlings pop up all over my garden!
GROWING TIPS: Once they get growing, you should have no problem getting them to thrive (ideally in full sun or partial shade), but the challenging part is germination. Here's a description of how to get them to sprout from Iowa State University:
"Redbud seeds have hard, impermeable seedcoats and dormant embryos. The seedcoats must be broken and dormancy overcome before the redbud seeds can germinate. [You can achieve this] by submerging the seeds in boiling water for 1 minute. Dormancy can be overcome by subjecting the seeds to moisture and cool temperatures for a specific period of time. Place a small amount of a moist 50:50 mix of sand and peat moss in the bottom of a small plastic container, such as a margarine tub. Place the redbud seeds on the surface and then cover with additional moist sand and peat. Punch 1 or 2 small holes in the plastic lid and then place it on the container. Place the container in the refrigerator for 5 to 8 weeks. (The temperature should be 35 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit.) After the cool, moist requirement has been met, remove the seeds from the refrigerator and plant indoors. Using a commercial potting mix, plant the redbud seeds 1/4 to 1/2 deep. Keep the potting mix moist until the redbud seeds germinate."
If you're afraid boiling water will kill your seeds (though multiple sources recommend this practice) you can also just soak them in water for 24 hours before beginning the cold stratification process.