Seeds in a pod

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The seedpods of the American redbud tree look curiously similar to garden pea pods. However, the four to 12 seeds inside are small hard and brown when mature, and the pods are flat. These pods will turn brown in summer and remain hanging on the tree for several months keeping the seeds safe inside until falling during winter.

Native to approximately the eastern half of the U.S. and a narrow portion of eastern Mexico, the American redbud makes a great natural addition to any Southeast Missouri yard. This tree is easy to plant when small, requiring little or no maintenance. Growing about 15 inches or more each year, the tree can reach a maximum height of about 30 feet.

During April the redbud will delight everyone who sees it with its showy magenta profusion of small flowers that each resemble the sweet pea flower. Unlike flowers on most trees, redbud flowers will spring from the sides of its limbs and even sometimes from a young tree's trunk.

The tree has heart-shaped leaves that turn red-orange to brown in autumn.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo.

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