The Redbud (Cercis canadensis), a shrub or small tree found throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, has been named Wildflower of the Year for 2013 by the Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS).

“Redbuds, along with flowering dogwoods, epitomize springtime in Virginia,” says W. John Hayden, the society’s botany chair and professor of biology at the University of Richmond. Hayden said the flowers begin to appear while the plants are still leafless from winter, but leaves are expanding as the last flowers open. Flowers are followed by flat seed pods resembling small snow peas but eventually become hard, brown and dry.  Both the buds and the flowers are edible.

Each year since 1989, VNPS has selected a native plant as Virginia Wildflower of the Year to draw public attention to the botanical diversity of the Old Dominion. The plant selected becomes the subject of an illustrated brochure that introduces its botany, natural history, folk and garden uses, and conservation. Naming a tree as “wildflower” of the year accentuates the interest of VNPS in all forms of plant life native to Virginia.

Brochures about the Redbud can be obtained from local chapters of the VNPS or from the society’s office at the Blandy Experimental Farm in Boyce, Va.  A digital version can be found at http://vnps.org/wp/2013-wildflower-of-the-year/.

VNPS and its 2,000 members across the commonwealth promote public education, protection of endangered species, habitat preservation and appropriate landscape use of native plants. For more information, visit vnps.org/home or contact Hayden at 804-289-8232 or jhayden@richmond.edu.

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Professor of Biology
Anatomy, morphology, and systematics of vascular plants, especially family Euphorbiaceae, in the context of regional floristics, ethnobotany, systematic monographs, and revisions