The common name 'Judas Tree' is used to describe Cercis siliquastrum. It is said to be the one from which Judas Iscariot hanged himself after betraying Christ, but the name may also derive from 'Judea's tree', after the region encompassing Israel and Palestine where the tree is commonplace.
Leaves appear late on this spectacular flowering tree, after the startling clusters of pea-shaped blooms which can smother the tree and burst from the new young shoots, the surface of the bare branches and even the main trunk of the tree.
To flower well it needs full sun and a long warm summer the previous year, and it is not so impressive in cooler gardens.
From late summer onwards, large bunches of rich purple pods deck the branches and last well into winter, while the pretty foliage turns light yellow and chestnut in autumn. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
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