Habit: deciduous multi-stemmed shrub growing as wide as it is tall with a dense rounded crown and many angled branches. Mature bark is a gray and somewhat scaly. In early spring flowers appear in small clusters along the branches before the leaves, blooming for only 2 weeks between February and April. The miniature pea like flowers are reddish purple to magenta pink with 5 petals. New leaves are light green and thin becoming bluish-green, thick, rounded with a heart shape and prominent veins. Fruit is a lime green flat pod hanging in clusters that turn purple brown and persist into winter. Autumn yellow leaves turn to red and brown.
Ecology: Cercis occidentalis is found in canyons and on dry steep slopes in rocky nutrient deficient soil at elevations of 2168-6200 ft (661-1890m) in California, Nevada and in limited areas of Utah and Arizona (being especially common in the Grand Canyon).
Growing Conditions: full sun to partial shade and well-drained rocky soil, drought tolerant. Cold winters produce more flowers.
Western redbud is a good soil stabilizer along streams, and can withstand periodic flooding. Produces flowers on trunk and branches (cauliflory), usually more common in tropical plants, thought to be useful for pollinators without wings.