Judas Tree (Cercis siliquastrum)

I first noticed this tree in the last week of March in the parks of the capital of Malta, Valletta. This turned ouI happened to be there during the peak flowering week of the Judas Tree. This week  (first week of April) I travelled to Valencia, Spain and I noticed the Judas Tree was also planted all over the city. The tree is native to the eastern Mediterranean and further east. It has long been cultivated for parks and gardens. As you can see above, the spring blast of pink is beautiful and it is suited for the climate and soils.

The name is interesting and there is much speculation on how it came to be. Legend has the Judas of Biblical fame, hung himself on this type of tree. Others think it is a corruption of Tree of Judea, one of the regions it was originally found. Some others think it came from the way the pods hang from the tree which resembles they way Judas hung.

It is a hardy tree and a member of the pea family (Caesalpinioideae) and one of only two of this family found in Europe. There are seven species in the genus. As it matures, flowers begin to bloom directly from the trunk as you can see below. When not in flower, the tree can be identified by the heart-shaped leaves. 

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