Merlot redbud is designed for gardeners in hotter, drier zones (USDA Zones 6 to 9) looking for a small ornamental tree with dark foliage.
A cross between Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ and Cercis canadensis var. texensis, Merlot Redbud is drought and heat tolerant and has appealing shiny wine red foliage.
The glossy leaves of Merlot are dark wine-purple, like the color of a fine Merlot wine, and are smaller and more rounded, free of scorch well into fall. The reduced size and rounded shape accommodates the stress of hot climates, while the shiny leaf surface slows transpiration or water loss of this hybrid redbud. These strategies to “beat the heat” are inherited from their texensis parentage, and thick, glossy Merlot leaves hold up well during the heat of Southern and Southwestern summers without browning margins.
Mature trees flower heavily with strong, bright magenta-pink flowers on bare branches. They are self cleaning and have a low seed set. Thus, the homeowner or landscaper enjoys a heavy bloom but the seed pods tend to drop early before ripening and turning brown and don’t hang on the tree. These flowers are attractive to bees, butterflies and nectar-loving birds.
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