Sunday, August 25, 2013

oklahoma vs. texas

At TMH, I took out a ton of dying and unhappy aspen, and those that were poorly sited (oh my poor back!). Aspen are beautiful, but what water hogs! And those invasive roots! Then I had to choose what to replace them with. I thought about redbud (Cercis), but I knew I didn't want eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) which doesn't have very rich colored flowers in this climate, and the leaves shred in the wind. The intensely colored redbuds would be much better, and from what I knew, were closer to being native. My on-line research showed various names, C. reniformis, C. canadensis texensis, C. c. ‘texensis ‘Oklahoma’, Oklahoma redbud, Texas redbud. From my readings, these were all names for the same tree. This being the fall of last year, the nursery I went to had one Texas redbud in a 15 gallon, and one Oklahoma redbud in a 5 gallon. I figured they were the same, and since I needed two trees for my courtyard, I bought both. I discovered that these are different trees. Although flower colors are similar, leaf shape and texture are very different, and growth is very different. If you ever wondered what the difference is, here you go.

Oklahoma redbud flowers

Texas redbud flowers

First the flowers. I’ll discuss Oklahoma first, but only because it is alphabetical. Oklahoma redbud has richly colored magenta flowers, on the cool side of the color range. Texas redbud has warm colored magenta flowers. The flowers are very similar in size and shape. Although the photos show very similarly colored flowers, in the landscape, the contrast between cool and warm magenta is apparent. If you’ve ever seen warm reds against cool reds, it can be jarring. I think that the magenta is less jarring than the cool vs. warm reds, but that’s just my opinion. So far, there does not seem to be a difference in how floriferous they are.

Oklahoma redbud leaf

Texas redbud leaf

Although when I purchased them, the leaves looked similar, in growth they are different. Oklahoma redbud has thick glossy leaves that are distinctly round (reniformis = "kidney shaped"). Texas redbud has matte leaves, that are round-ISH, but not nearly as round. They are in fact primarily heart shaped, especially in the leaves formed early in the season, or not drought stressed (most of the leaves have a point, like the one on the left of the photo - not so reniformis).

Oklahoma redbud growth

Texas redbud growth

The biggest difference between the two is that the growth of the two redbuds are dramatically different. Oklahoma redbud put out about four inches of growth from the top shoots, about 12 inches on the lowest branches, and then stopped. When the summer monsoons arrived, no new growth occurred. It is a very compact grower so far in its first year, and the branches are primarily horizontal, with no dominant upright leader.  Growing in the same area, Texas redbud has not stopped growing since it leafed out in the spring, and still has new leaves forming as of today. It has put on about 6 feet of growth (that’s right, feet), which is primarily vertical, although the branches become more horizontal as you go down the tree, so that the lowest branches at ground level are horizontal.

So there you have it. Similar flowers, but dramatically different leaves and growth.


  1. So glad to see you back blogging! With the disappearance of Google Reader, I moved to Inoreader, and your new post showed up. Hope you continue to share your Albuquerque gardening experiences.

    1. Thanks, Nancy. It may be sporadic, but the new blog is started. Time to get planting!

  2. Serious reading...I can't tell, either. I think the TX and OK species grade into each other, even into the Mexican species. Here at UTEP, the Texas Redbud looks more crinkly in leaf than the OK by far. Glad your(s) grew so well, and you could even find some!

  3. Thank you so much for showing us the difference on the OK and TX Redbuds. We are trying to decide which one to go with in our yard. The information and pictures are very helpful!

    1. You are welcome. You might want to check out my later post, which has some further differences. Let me know which one you you get!