At last, I found Redbud seeds in the mulch from Albuquerque, from my friend’s neighbor.
I have six in moist seed starters in the greenroom and hope they sprout. This tree is part of the Fabaceae (bean) family. These beautiful spring bloomers were everywhere in Texas. I see them in Albuquerque but never anywhere I can get close enough to see which variety they are.
There are physical differences in Redbud trees grown in the dry Southwest and Western locations, like adaptations to high solar radiation. Leaves are smaller, thicker, and their stomata transpire less water..
The seeds take up to 8 weeks to germinate, but I do not plan to keep them in the greenroom that long. I will keep them moist until we are fully in the monsoon season, then take them out and plant them with deadwood and some of my saved clay. I will also plant them adjacent to brush piles (some brush piles have a ring of oaks surrounding them) and use ID stakes.
I usually do not ID seeds in my food forest, they come up or they don’t. In this case I will because I am clearing that area and do not want to disturb the seeds. I will make a hugelkultur planting hole for a tiny Redbud seed.
Redbud is a beautiful spring blooming tree and has edible flowers rich in Vitamin C and the flavonoid anthocyanin that Ius an antioxidant. As early as they bloom, the fresh nutrition can be helpful to your diet. Use them in salads, boiled, or fried. I like them in both salads and added to teas, but leave most for seed production.
I have been reading about supporting your skin’s natural defenses against all UV spectrums, a subject suitable to a fair skinned person living in the New Mexico mountains. One skin support is to eat foods high in anthocyanins (red/purple/blue), but direct topical application also improves your skin’s ability to protect cells from UV damage. This is in a medical research summary and I am only on page 48/133, but it is fascinating. What occurs to me is that a diffusion of red/blue/purple flowers would be a nice skin tonic for skin support. Redbud flowers, for example, which are also astringent. Internal or external, anthocyanins support your body’s natural defenses against sun damage.
The leaves are edible, best in early spring when less fibrous. Otherwise run the through a blender like wheatgrass. I chew on them while gardening and spit out the fiber.
The main event are the dried beans, which I collect as soon as they are dry enough to get them before the pests get them. The little round lentil-shaped bean cooks up much like any of its bean cousins, soak to remove saponins (use to water plants) and cook. I was thrilled to discover a bean tree in my Texas yard. Free to me beans! Every year. Native and no watering necessary. Large crop.
Redbud provided me more beans than I could eat in Texas, and is so common in its natural range of Texas east to the coast, that I again assert that there is no need for Americans to go hungry like Venezuela or Greece. Take a pot of Redbud beans and add a handful of native grass seeds and you have a complete protein. A few herbs and a little salt. No hunger and no suffering. No Market Economy woes.
Added to its value is that tea from Redbud’s inner bark is a folk remedy for leukemia. Like the flowers, it is astringent. It treats fevers, diarrhea, and dysentery. A cold infusion of roots and inner bark is used for chest complaints including whooping cough and congestion.
The bark of young shoots is used in basketmaking. Does it get better? It prefers alkaline soil. My tree will have its hearts content with alkaline soil.
It has high value to wildlife, the seeds feed cardinals, pheasants, rose-breasted grosbeaks, quail, deer, squirrels, and me. Maybe chickens if the girls like it. Of course, any seedlings I get will not set seed for years, probably 8. Don’t forget the bounty for early pollinators, honeybees and butterflies.
I also ordered a bareroot Redbud seedling that should bear seed in fewer years. It is in a pot getting a few more roots and will go in the ground in a week or so with my monsoon rains. It is warm enough to leaf out now, and I hope Redbud seedling and seeds thrive in my food forest.