How to collect the seeds of Cercis canadensis
As I waited in a parking lot to meet my daughter a few days ago, I noticed the redbud (Cercis canadensis) trees nearby. This didn't require extreme tree identification skills -- the redbud is easily identified in summer by its (generally) heart-shaped leaves. In the leaf, several major veins begin at the juncture of stem and leaf, spreading out like spokes from the hub of a bicycle wheel.
Here is a good image of a redbud leaf at Bioimages. Please don't look at the photo in this post for help in identifying a redbud leaf. My photo has some other leaves of shrubbery mixed in with the redbud leaves. Also, the redbud leaves were a bit bug-eaten, and possibly mildewed. (We've had an exceptionally wet summer in this part of Kentucky.)
Besides the leaves, I knew these trees were redbuds because of the clusters of seedpods. Some of the seedpods were nearly mature and some were still green, but they were hanging in clusters from the branches.
Redbuds bloom from nodes on the branches. After a tree has bloomed many years from the same node area, it develops swollen areas that look almost pregnant. (image at right.)
If you want to collect redbud seed, wait until the pods are brown and dry. Then open the pods and pop out the seeds. Discard any seeds that have insect holes or that are not uniform in shape, size, or color. Store the seeds in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer. To sprout and grow, the seeds must be both scarified (seed covers scratched) and stratified (buried in cold wet sand for several months).
Nature doesn't seem to have much trouble with the
scarifying and stratifying. Owners of redbud trees can testify to the ability of redbuds to propagate themselves.