Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) is now in bloom at the nature center. Considered either a tall shrub or a short tree—you can decide that one—the light to dark magenta flowers appear before the heart-shaped leaves.
Found throughout the Southeast, with Tennessee being at the center of its range, redbud is the first blast of intense color to explode in Appalachia. Found naturally in the understory of mixed forests and along hedgerows of farmland, redbud makes an excellent native landscape ornamental, a far better and more colorful choice than the non-native Bradford pear (imported originally from China and Korea).
At Ijams, look for redbud anywhere inside the park. And if you are truly lucky, you might even find a barred owl sitting in one.
Spring is most certainly found at Ijams.
- Text and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales