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During this time of COVID-19 isolation, some have discovered it’s quite easy to take a walk while still social distancing.

And as you’re walking through your neighborhood, if you look around something magical is happening. The redbud trees are blooming.

Redbud trees are the Oklahoma state tree, and you can recognize them immediately from their blooms. Different cultivars have slightly different looks, but for the most part you’ll see flowers that are some shade of pink.

Announcing spring

This is the time of year that the Redbuds in your neighborhood and throughout the metro become obvious.

Redbud trees are deciduous, showing the cycle of the year through losing their leaves and then growing new ones every spring. They are drought-tolerant, strong in high winds, and a favorite of birds and bees due to their sweet flowers.

redbud trees
An aging Redbud that still looks great on March 29, 2020, in Oklahoma City. (Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press)

When deciding to plant a Redbud it is recommended that you choose a tree that was started from a local harvested seed. Redbud varieties can grow in many different areas of the country, but the ones local to you will always be better suited for your area’s weather patterns.

The strongest Redbuds will have been regularly pruned and inspected for fungal infections and problematic insects like weevils.

Redbud flowers look similar to pea blossoms and grow along each branch that can vary from pink to a deep reddish-purple are part of the magic of springtime in Oklahoma.

Edible?

The flowers on a Redbud aren’t just pretty but they are also edible.

Raw, they taste a bit citrusy and can be a fun addition to a salad. The flowers can be pickled and used in place of capers as well.

Redbud flowers are high in vitamin C and should be harvested early in the spring while they are still small for the best flavor profile.

redbud trees
Aging doesn’t seem to stop this Redbud from looking brilliant in its neighborhood in Oklahoma City on March 29, 2020. (Brett Dickerson/Okla City Free Press)

As the spring goes on, the flower petals will become larger and less flavorful, but in the early summer, you’ll start to see pods forming along the branches. These contain seeds and are a favorite snack of deer and other local wildlife.

They may be your new favorite snack too. When they are young and tender, these pods can be steamed and eaten whole, added to a dish instead of snap peas, and yes pickled. Pods contain protein and are an excellent addition to your diet.

If urban foraging isn’t your hobby though, be sure to watch the pods and see them change over the season from purple to black. When the redbud’s leaves begin to go more green than red, it’s time to harvest them for the seeds if you want to give your friends a locally grown Redbud.

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