Recently, we learned that native eastern redbud blossoms are edible and so we ran outside to harvest some, just in the nick of time. As seen in the above photo, the buds are waning, being replaced by those lovely heart-shaped leaves. They tasted great as a salad topping and, to the palate, were virtually indistinguishable from bean sprouts. According to the North Carolina Folklife Institute, North Carolinians have been eating redbuds for centuries. Native Americans ate them raw and also boiled them. The blossoms also make great jelly. They are one of the first trees to blossom in spring. This sweet-pea pink color looks fabulous on a bed of greens.
Unfortunately, the redbud blossoms are mostly gone already. However, we can still enjoy the tree's beauty from now until fall. As the "eat local" trend continues to grow, we expect to see these blossoms appear on more and more menus in Greensboro. The redbud tree has a shallow root system and can be difficult to cultivate. However, once one is established, you have a beautiful, edible addition to your yard. Let us know if you plant one!