redbud or Judas tree, name for trees and shrubs of the genus Cercis, handsome plants of the family Leguminosae (pulse family), covered along the branches in the early spring with deep rose or (rarely) white flowers resembling pea blossoms. Species native to North America include the common redbud ( C. canadensis ), ranging through Mexico and the United States E of the Rockies, and the California redbud ( C. occidentalis ). According to tradition an Old World species was the tree on which Judas hanged himself. The bark of C. chinensis has been used in Chinese medicine as an antiseptic. The genus Cercis is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.