Ajuntament de Barcelona

Cercis siliquastrum

Porta de Montjuïc

    Catalan name: 
    Arbre de Judes
    Spanish name: 
    Árbol del amor
    English name: 
    Judas tree

    According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the conservation status of this plant is least concern.

    Species characteristics
    Western Mediterranean area
    Stream banks making short forests

    Deciduous tree 5-8 m tall, although it can reach 15 m in height, with a single trunk, often twisted and with blackish brown clefted bark, and a crown measuring about 4 m in diameter, although some specimens' crown can measure up to 12 m.

    The leaves are alternate and simple, 7-12 cm long, with a variable shape (from rounded to heart-shaped), rounded apex and a long petiole. The young leaves, appearing late, can have a pink shade becoming dark green with purple shades (yellowish in autumn) on the upper side and greyish-green on the lower side.

    The hermaphrodite flowers, about 2 cm long, appear before that the leaves and can come out directly on the branches' and the trunk's bark. They are composed of a dark pink papilionaceous corolla and getting into small groups (3-6 flowers), about 12 cm.

    The fruits are dark brown siliquas (hanging flattened legumes), 5-10 cm long, with many seeds.

    Flowering time: 
    Fruiting time: 
    Early autumn (remaining all the winter until spring)
    Uses and properties: 

    Judas Tree has been used in gardening since ancient times because of its shadow and blossoming, usually purple pink, although white in some variations.

    According to tradition, its fruits are widely used in popular medicine.

    Its flowers, bittersweet at taste, are used in salads and fritters, also poached in vinegar in a similar manner to capers.

    It is very resilient to drought but highly sensitive to some insects.

    Bounding is recommended to happen after blossoming has taken place, usually in the oldest branches.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name Cercis siliquastrum comes from the Greek κερκίς, “shuttle”, and the Latin siliqua, “carob (bean)”, with the suffix –astrum, “similar to”, both with reference to the fruit. Quite a lot of its popular names refer to a legend according to which Judas Iscariot committed suicide hanging itself from one tree of this species.

    The arrival to Europe happened circa 1200 in France, where it was carried by the crusaders. The diffusion across the European continent was very quick and at the 16th and 17th centuries it often appeared in the herbaria.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001

    THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. Enciclopedia de plantas y flores. Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1996