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Cercis Canadensis

Plant of the month | Forest Pansy

Sep 14, 2012

Spring is here!  Tiny buds are appearing on trees that have been barren all winter.  One spectacular example is the ‘Cercis Canadensis’ – the Forest Pansy.

The sight of the tiny bright pink flowers appearing in clusters against its metallic-grey bark along the zig-zag branches heralds warmer weather and news that summer is coming.  Having stood proud and bare all winter, this display is the start of a long, varied and glorious one.

Following the pink blossom, tiny blood-red heart-shaped leaves begin to show.  These eventually become large, shade-giving and deep burgundy in colour.  Come autumn their final show is a brilliant display of purple, gold and orange tones before the leaves start to drop and the story is over until the next Spring.  This particular tree is the dwarf variety so grows to only 5m and therefore suitable for smaller gardens.  Prefers fertile, moist and well drained soil in a sheltered spot in full sun or partial shade.

Botanical name:                ‘Cercis Canadensis
Common name:                 Forest Pansy
Family:                                     Fabaceae
Origin:                                      Eastern North America

19 responses to “Plant of the month | Forest Pansy”

  1. Mary Mentiplay says:

    Is the Forest Pansy tree frost tolerant?

  2. Hi. We have recently moved to Orange from Sydney, and we are on a learning curve re what plants like the cold climate. Winter was a bit of a shock, and we lost some much loved plants. We would love to plant a forest pansy-
    would this beautiful shrub survive, and if so, where should we plant it? We are in a new home on a large block, but the soil is clay, and drainage is poor on a flat block at the bottom of a rise. Any suggestions welcome, thank you

    • rochelle says:

      Heather I would suggest that you contact someone locally. You have described a number of various conditions – soil, climate, aspect etc and you will get the best result it you have a Horticulturist that is local (qualified and experienced) to come and chat with you. The cost of this would be far cheaper than losing more plants.

    • Marianne Pankhurst says:

      Hi Heather, I live in Orange and am about to plant a Forest Pansy after seeing 2 in a front yard at 71 Kite St. Talk to Marianne at Thompson’s Nursery for advise. Maz

  3. Dean says:

    Hello everyone, can the forest pansy tolerate wind? I’m thinking of planting in the north facing garden that can be prone to windy days.

    • rochelle says:

      No they do not like wind and your site is too exposed. A good alternative is an Olive, Tuckeroo etc. Look for a tree with a thicker leathery leaves or from a Meditterean climates as they tend to do better with exposed sites. Coastal Banksia’s if you are near the coast is a good option too.

  4. Rhia says:

    I am a first time gardener, and currently have a forest pansy I bought about 2 months ago-it is in the same pot it came in when I had bought it. I was wondering if I plant it in a spot and need to move it elsewhere in the garden, will it be ok if I do so? I was told to make sure, as some plants don’t cope well with relocating in the garden. Thank you 😊

    • rochelle says:

      Generally they are not the easiest tree to move – they prefer to stay put!
      If you do need to move it, do it while it is smaller. You will need to prepare the tree in mid to late summer by trenching around the base to prepare the roots for movement. Once the leaves have completely dropped, in the middle of Winter dig out the tree, preserving as much of the root ball as possible and relocate it.

  5. Marion Martin says:

    Does any one know if the Forest Pansy is a child safe tree to plant in a child care centre

  6. Skye says:

    What can I plant under a Forest Pansy? It faces west.

    • rochelle says:

      Senecio is a good option for a ground cover. If you are after some height try Convolvulus.

    • Caz Gren says:

      Hi, I’m looking to plant a forest pansy that would get the western sun in afternoon. Does yours tolerate the sun well? I thought it need more partial Sun? I need a tree of interest that isn’t too large.
      Thanks, Caz

  7. Vanessa says:

    Will the Forest Pansy be suitable next to a crepe myrtle to provide shade to a bedroom wall that is about 2m above the ground (has a cellar/garage underneath). It will receive the full westerly afternoon sun.

    • rochelle says:

      Vanessa it is difficult for us to provide advice without seeing the area the tree will go into, so this os very general. I would assume you have waterproofing and weight bearing sorted if this sits above a room? In theory you can have a Forest Pansy next to a Crepe Myrtle that would not be an issue. The Westerly sun is also fine. As it is deciduous it would allow light in during Winter and then when it does get to the height required would provide shade in Summer. Plus you get the benefit of beautiful blossoms. We had a Forest Pansy in our last office. It was a beautiful tree. It was very sad to have to leave it behind when we moved.

  8. Bruce Meppem says:

    Can the cersis canadensis be pleached ? Have a specimen planted behind a pittosporum tenuifolium hedge and want to know if the lower limbs can be pruned so that the limbs will not grow into hedge or can the cersis limbs be pruned on the side leaving a three sided shape ? Thank you for your advice Bruce Meppem

    • rochelle says:

      Yes this would be fine to take off the lower limbs. We would not recommend pleaching this from a looks perspective but for what you have outlined it is fine.

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