Native to parts of California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada, western redbud (Cercis orbiculata, Fabaceae) can often be found in rocky soil along canyons, slopes, and streams below 4000 feet. Also known as California redbud, this deciduous shrub or small tree can grow up to twenty feet in height. It can easily be identified by the heart-shaped leaves and pink-purple flowers that appear from late winter through early spring.
These attractive flowers are pollinated primarily by bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Bombus spp.) and orchard mason bees (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae: Osmia lignaria). After fertilization, the flowers develop into slender purple seed pods that brown with age. In late April in the Klamath Mountains of California there were both flowers and seed pods present:
Like its more widespread relative the eastern redbud (C. canadensis), this plant is widely cultivated for use as an ornamental. Unlike its cousin, western redbud is much more drought tolerant and better suited for the arid southwest.