Cercis is a genus of about 10 species in the subfamily Caesalpinioideae of the pea family Fabaceae, native to warm temperate regions. It contains small deciduous trees or large shrubs commonly known as redbuds. They are characterised by simple, rounded to heart-shaped leaves and pinkish-red flowers borne in the early spring on bare leafless shoots, on both branches and trunk ("cauliflory"). Cercis is derived from the Greek word κερκις (kerkis) meaning "weaver's shuttle", which was applied by Theophrastus to C. siliquastrum.
Cercis species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Mouse Moth (recorded on Eastern Redbud).The bark of C. chinensis has been used in Chinese medicine as an antiseptic.
Trees, 6-20 m tall. Trunk to 30 cm d.b.h. or more. Bark and branchlets grayish black. Petiole 2-4.5 cm; leaf blade often purplish red when young, greenish when mature, cordate or triangular-orbicular, 5-12(-20) × 4.5-11.5(-18) cm, thickly papery to subleathery, adaxially shiny, glabrous or comose-pubescent in vein axils, principal veins (5-)7, base shallowly to deeply cordate, rarely truncate, apex obtuse or acute. Raceme short; rachis 5-10 mm, 4-12-flowered. Flowers light purplish red or pink, 1.3-1.5 cm; pedicel 1-2.3 cm, slender. Legume purplish red, broadly linear, (7-)9-15 × 1.2-1.5 cm, wing 2-2.3 mm, sutures unequal (rarely equal), dorsal suture slightly longer, base rounded to acuminate, apex acuminate; stipe 2-3 mm. Seeds 1-8, compressed, suborbicular, 6-7 × 5-6 mm. Fl. Mar-Apr, fr. Sep-Nov.
Open or dense forests, mountain slopes, along valleys near roads, on rocks; 600-1900 m. Anhui, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang.
Plants called "Cercis gigantea Cheng et Keng f." (in Wei & He, Fl. Zhejiang. 3: 279. 1993) may represent a distinct species, but too little material was available to be certain. This needs further study. The name was not validly published because no Latin description or diagnosis was provided and no type was indicated (Vienna Code, Art. 36.1, 37.1).