Redbud vs Forest Pansy

(Question)

I like the look of a forest pansy but I have heard, largely anecdotally, that the Redbud grows slightly taller (30 feet vs 20 feet) and is more hardy. I live in central Toronto so conditions may be better than north of the city where gardeners have had a harder time with the forest pansy but size and longevity are key factors for the deck I need shaded.

Looking at more mature redbuds in Mt Pleasant Cemetary and Ramsden Park they are quite sizeable.

Are there any examples of larger forest pansies?

(Answer)

Hello:

Thank you for your question. Forest Pansy (Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’) is a cultivar of Cercis canadensis or Eastern Redbud. The chief distinguishing characteristic of the Forest Pansy is it’s purple leaves. From the research I have done, it seems that Cercis canadensis is marginally more hardy (5-10) than the Forest Pansy cultivar (6-10). Toronto is in zone 6a, so either tree should survive in Toronto. Regarding height, almost everywhere I looked gave the same size range for both, 20′ to 30′ high and 25′ to 35′ wide. There was one commercial grower, Monrovia, who gave the final height of Forest Pansy as 20′. It may be a touch smaller than Cercis canadensis. The Royal Botanical Garden in Burlington has a very large Cercis canadensis – much taller than 35′. They may have examples of the Forest Pansy.

Cercis canadensis doesn’t like to be moved around, so you should get a small tree and think carefully about planting it in it’s ‘forever’ place the first time. It will be very unhappy if you decide to move it at a later date. I also read in Wikipedia that it is pollinated only by long-tongued bees such as blueberry bees or carpenter bees; short-tongued bees can’t reach the nectar.

The Missouri Botanical Garden is known for high quality information and you may want to read these. It is an American Website and their hardiness zones are slightly different than ours. You add 1 to get our Canadian zone number.

For Cercis canadensishttp://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=h550

For Forest Pansy:  http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=r400

Both are beautiful specimen trees.