Cercis canadensis "Forest Pansy"

Discussion in 'Woody Plants' started by donnacanadensis, Feb 25, 2005.

  1. donnacanadensis

    donnacanadensis Member

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    Location:
    North Saanich, Canada
    We planted Cercis canadensis tree about a year and a half ago. Last spring it bloomed well and the foliage appeared lush and healthy during the summer and fall. We now noticed that the tree hasn't set any buds and it looks dead. I can't imagine what caused this. It looked so healthy. We live just outside Sooke, overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Can anyone suggest what might have killed it? I'd like to replace it but don't want to repeat the same mistake.
    Thanks
     
  2. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Redbud trees were always one of my favourites in the spring back east. I don't see them as often here in the PNW. Unfortunately I am no expert on Cercis, donnacanadensis (very clever name by the way). They seem to be easy to grow and tolerant of varied growing conditions. The only thing I read that might fit, is that they don't like to be in soggy soil. That could be a problem in this area.

    Does anybody know why we don't see more Cercis in the Pacific Northwest?
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Prone to fungus problems causing dieback/"sudden" death, as with yours, both here and elsewhere. Note that wild species occur only in hot climates (California in western North America). Best bet for our area, as in Britain and Northern Europe, is probably Cercis siliquastrum. There are big, old ones of this scattered around Seattle. It is scarce in the trade, however, unlike C. canadensis, which, although a gamble, is not guaranteed to fail. Here are some local records, from R. Van Pelt, Champion Trees of Washington State:

    Cercis canadensis
    5'3" x 38' x 36' 1993 Tacoma
    2'3" x 43' x 29' 1993 Seattle

    Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'
    2'6" x 19' x 28' 1993 Seattle

    Cercis siliquastrum
    5'8" x 37' x 33' 1989 Seattle
    5'8" x 36' x 33' 1989 Seattle
    4'5" x 27' x 39' 1993 Seattle
     
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  4. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Thanks Ron B, I guess redbuds do not like our wet climate or perhaps the fungi do too well here. They do seem common in eastern North America however. There were a lot of them in Georgia. It is very wet there, but of course summers are considerably warmer there.
     
  5. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Here Forest Pansy grow more shrubby, sometimes
    wider than tall, as the purple red foliage will fry in
    90° weather on the Valley floor if not protected from
    the hot afternoon sun. Afternoon hot winds will do
    pretty much the same thing. We have to give them
    late afternoon shade here at the risk of having less
    bud set. For around San Francisco, Marin and nearby
    areas down to Santa Clara and San Jose, these can
    grow wonderfully well in full sun. I think for a
    blooming form I like Rubye Atkinson better. Much
    easier to grow here and less picky than Forest Pansy
    can be also.

    Hard to say what went wrong but from my experience
    Forest Pansy prefers to be grown in soil rather than
    in a medium to high, concentrated soil mix of mostly
    organic compost or in lots of humus. Another thing
    that may only be attributed to us is that Forest Pansy
    does much better with regular deep waterings. Give
    the tree a little more time as my tree has not started
    to break dormancy either. My Rubye Atkinson
    always has been ahead of my Forest Pansy to
    show any life to it.

    Oak root fungus can a real problem with canadensis,
    so is graft incompatibility with selected forms. If
    you can grow a Judas Tree then Western Redbud should
    be able to be grown in Vancouver also. We have more
    problems with the native form than most areas will as
    we try to grow it like an Eastern Redbud and that is not
    the way to do it. We tend to over water the Western
    Redbud here as well. Occidentalis likes afternoon
    shade here but in the foothills around 1500 - 4500
    feet in elevation grown in full sun they can be quite
    spectacular trees, especially when in bloom. Always
    are a crowd favorite in Yosemite.

    We've had quite a few chinensis planted around
    here in recent years, last 20 years. They bloom
    the earliest for us and are in bloom right now here
    whereas the Eastern Redbuds have not started to
    bloom quite yet but the buds are starting to swell
    right now in the warmer areas of the San Joaquin
    Valley.

    Jim
     
  6. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Metro Vancouver, BC, Canada.
    In the retail sector locally (PNW) forest pansy is usually an import of Monrovia, number 5 pot is fairly common to see. The field grown stuff is apparently slow to gain size and caliper compared to more mainstream trees so it is a longer term investment for the nursery. I just looked at my BCLNA buyers guide and it lists; 4 wholesale nurseries for B&B trees, 2 nurseries for bare root, 6 nurseries for container size and 6 nurseries for caliper size trees.

    http://www.canadanursery.com/canadanursery/find/plants.lasso

    a link for searching their listings (I hope this is not out of line for the board)
     
  7. donnacanadensis

    donnacanadensis Member

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    Thank you so much to all of you who have so far given me a few leads why my pretty tree died. (Or did it? - I have to double check its dormancy stage as suggested by mr.shep). The terminal branclets were dry and broke off easily.

    If "sudden death" is the cause, would it be the same as SOD? I thought of that but the tree did not exhibit any symptoms. It literaly went from a healthy tree to dead over the winter. I don't know if the tree came from Monrovia (no producer's tag) but I did buy it from a nursery which sells many plants from Monrovia, and that was at the time when Monrovia California products were being implicated with SOD infection.

    As for the planting coditions, the tree was planted in a woodland part of the 1 acre garden, with lots of humus and organic matter, and watered regularly. Aside from a couple of tasting nibbles by deer, the tree, at least visibly, did not suffer from any other insult.

    If anyone else has some other ideas, please keep them coming. I will probably plant another one one, and maybe even try a siliquastrum as well.

    Cheers
     
  8. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    The terminal ends have a tendency to break off easily
    anyway. Can look dead even when they are not dead.
    Check to see if the branches are indeed alive or not
    even if you have to use the saliva test of placing the
    end of the twig on your tongue to see if it is green
    inside or not. Keep breaking a branch back until
    you run into some live wood if there is any. I've
    seen a few Forest Pansy die out from the graft up
    pretty easy, yet the rootstock was still alive and
    rather healthy looking. Oak root fungus will kill
    the entire tree. Most people kill off root systems
    all too easily by planting these in non-sterilized
    compost and in lots of humus. Any addition of
    Nitrogen after the planting for the first year
    almost guarantees a few problems to show up
    sooner rather than later. If there is a quick
    decline in these trees check the area around
    the graft as our culprit will usually show
    itself there if we know what to look for. Aside
    from an occasional graft incompatibility problem,
    we homeowners are the principal reason why
    most of these trees die on us more often than
    not.

    Hate to say it but Monrovia may not have grown
    this one. For the record Monrovia has another
    large scale growing operation in another state
    besides California. I have a cousin that works
    for them at that particular location. I also know
    of the wholesale growing nursery in which most
    of these Forest Pansy are field grown in irrigated
    rows to get them up to 5 and 15 gallon size to be
    sold bare root to other wholesale nurseries allover
    the world. If your Forest Pansy came to you from
    a wholesale nursery B&B or you purchased one from
    a retail nursery B&B, balled and burlap, then the plant
    did not come from us. It may have originated here
    but sold bare root to nurseries and either potted
    up or field grown on elsewhere in another state.

    Jim
     
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  10. Are you sure it's dead? The summer before last I planted a Forest Pansy in Port Angeles (across the Strait from you) and was very worried about it last spring. Eventually, it budded out. I now have two and they both just barely budded quite recently. I have to walk right up to the tree and squint to see the new growth.
     
  11. My eastern redbud did the SAME thing last year. What a terrible disappointment as it was a beautiful tree!

    I plan to replace it with a river birch which is not prone to Verticillium wilt which my nursey said killed my tree. I do plan to plant a forest pansy on the other side of the yard and plan to pretreat the soil prior to planting.

    While I worry about another sudden death, I was so fond of this tree that I recently tagged a FP large specimen to the tune of $360. My mower and my weed wacker won't come within 10 feet of the new tree and the neighbors cat will NOT use this tree as a scratching post.

    http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/trees/CERCANC.pdf has a great article about these lovely trees and how they should be pruned to avoid splitting at branch/trunk junctures & crossed branches. Apparently they need to be watched for all bark damage.

    I know this seems like a lot of work for a tree, but the rewards are well worth the effort!

    Good luck if you decide to replace yours!
     
  12. I planted a forest pansy last year in a wooded area, but in a spot that receives a fair bit of sun on the south. It is growing well, leafed out nicely, but I never saw any flowers this year. Does it take several years to bloom? Mine is about 5 feet tall. My Kousa dogwood hasn't bloomed yet, either.

    When it blooms, are the flowers as pretty and pink as the Eastern redbud? As prolific? In our area what month is its most likely time to bloom? I thought I watched it fairly closely but as it is down the hill from my house, I suppose it is possible I missed it if it was very brief and very early. No sign of petal litter, however.

    Thank you. (I keep trying to recreate the Carolinas in my yard)

    Lynn - Victoria BC
     
  13. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Lynn - you might be interested to learn that we're planning a Carolinian Forest Garden here at UBC.
     

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