The tradition that Judas hanged himself upon a species of cercis (the oriental name for the tree) has kept his name attached to the three or four species comprised in the genus. In America the genus is represented by C. Canadensis, which also bears the popular name of red-bud; it is a small tree, rarely exceeding 30 ft., found from New York southward and westward, especially on the banks of rivers. When not crowded by other trees it forms a rounded head, and appears at a distance somewhat like an apple tree; the leaves are round heart-shaped, of a bluish green above, with a grayish green on the under surface; the foliage has a remarkably clean and healthy appearance, and is not liable to the attacks of insects. It belongs to the legumi-nosce, in a suborder in which the flowers are not perfectly papilionaceous; the flowers are of a dark peach-blossom color, and are produced before the leaves appear in small umbellike clusters, not only upon the wood of the previous year, but upon branches that are several years old, and even upon the trunk itself; though individually small, the flowers are in such profusion as to quite cover the tree, which when planted for ornament should be set against a background of evergreens, to show to the best advantage; the fruit is a flattened pod with numerous seeds.
The wood is hard and capable of receiving a fine polish. Upon the continent the flowers of the European species are used in salads, and fried in butter as fritters, and the flower buds are pickled in vinegar; it is said that the French settlers in this country make a similar use of the flowers of our species, which have a pleasantly acid taste. This is one of the native trees which have received too little attention from planters, as it is pleasing at all times, and highly ornamental in early spring. - The European Judas tree, C. siliquastrum, has less pointed leaves and darker flowers than ours, and is also less hardy. One of the most valuable hardy ornamental shrubs of recent introduction is called in the nurseries G. Japonica, but is probably a variety of C. C'hinensis, and is known as the
Judas Tree (Cercis Canadensis).
Japan Judas tree. It is of slow growth, but blooms profusely when only a foot or two high, and has darker-colored flowers than the others. All the species grow from seeds.