Aren't those flowers just too beautiful?
Would you believe me if I told you that not only are they gorgeous, they're also edible?
I pass this tree whenever I go to check my mail, but never paid much attention to it. One day though, one of my favorite foragers posted about foraging redbud blossoms and pods and included a picture.
Wait a second- that looked familiar!
I then found it in my local foraging book and knew why. Redbuds, scientifically known by the name Cercis, is a local plant! Duh!
Redbuds grow across North America, Europe, and Asia and, in my opinion, are some of the prettiest trees out there when they're in bloom.
The reason I never had noticed that tree before was because when its not in bloom, its just a standard, run of the mill tree, that didn't catch my attention in any way.
But when its in bloom, as it is in the spring, wow...
When I first spotted that tree, I strained to reach as high as I could and pick as many blossoms as I could, because once I tasted them, I just wanted more and more and more.
Why is that?
Because they taste so delicious! They're sweet and sour and taste really good. My kids could gobble them down by the handful.
Of course, after working so hard to reach the blossoms on the high branches, I discovered these smaller trees right near my house, all with flowers in easy reach.
So, how do you identify redbud trees?
Well, usually their blossoms are between pink and magenta, though some varieties have white flowers.
The flowers start off in small buds that look like this.
Then they open up somewhat.
At this point, you can start eating them. When they're still unopened, they taste bitter, and the more open they become, the yummier they are.
This is what they look like at their peak in tastiness.
If those types of flowers look familiar, you're probably right. Redbuds are in the pea/bean family and have the same banner, wings, and keel type petals.
At this point, little leaves are just starting to open up, which will then grow larger and larger until the entire tree is covered in large leaves.
The flowers will eventually turn into snap pea like pods. These are last years pods all dried up. Apparently you can use the young pods in stir fries but the local pods don't taste nice, so I don't.
There are no poisonous look alikes to this plant.
As for nutritional/medicinal info, I haven't been able to find lots, other than the flowers are very high in vitamin C, the pods are high in protein, and that flowers and the seeds are very high in antioxidants as well as linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid. The seeds also have oleic and palmitic acids. (Not that I know what those are good for anyhow, but I assume it means they're good for you.)
Off to do some more spring cleaning!
Have you ever seen redbud trees? Have you ever eaten their blossoms or pods? Do you like them?
So, who agrees with me that these blossoms are gorgeous? What are your favorite types of flowers?
Linking up to Frugal Friday