Judas Tree

Cercis siliquastrum
Leguminosae (Pea family)
There are many fine examples of Judas Trees (Cercis siliquastrum) around Cambridge, its enjoyment of the dry Cambridge climate bearing witness to its Mediterranean origins.
Richard Lynch, Curator, notes in his 1915 tree survey that the Judas Tree, still growing today in what is now called the Gilbert-Carter Memorial Area, was one of the finest in the country. The weight of its limbs has caused the tree to fall apart, as it is prone to do, and it is now a wonderful spreading specimen of great character. The startling, bright mauve, clusters of flowers arise, like blisters, in late spring along the bare branches or even from the trunk of the tree, often before the tree has leafed up, and make a wonderful contrast with the froth of Cow Parsley below.

The biggest specimen of the Judas Tree, however, is in the Autumn Garden. It was planted here not only for its lovely spring flowers, but also for the beautiful light-chestnut of the heart-shaped, serrated leaves in autumn and the long, purple pods that persist even into winter.