It may not be as celebrated as Washington DC’s cherry blossoms – at least not yet – but the massive planting of native redbud trees with dense pinkish-purple blooms along the north coast of Pittsburgh and other locations is in full bloom and is expected to last be next week.
In contrast to the cherry blossoms, the native redbud blossoms have a longer waiting time of up to three weeks, depending on the weather. Native to Japan, the Yoshino cherry produces an abundance of blossoms in Washington, DC that lasts up to two weeks, according to the National Park Service.
For the past five years, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has planted more than 3,250 trees for its Pittsburgh Red Project. It is said to beautify the urban landscape and strengthen the wildlife habit with the native eastern redbud, cherry, birch, spruce, hophornbeam, and hawthorn.
“Native trees and plants provide habitat and food for wildlife and are an essential foundation for ecological function,” said Jeff Bergman, director of community forestry and TreeVitalize Pittsburgh for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
Non-native invasive plants have invaded many parts of the city, reducing the number and diversity of native tree and plant species, he said. This, in turn, restricts the intake of food for wildlife.
“In addition to the beautification aspect of the Pittsburgh Redbud project, we are also improving the biodiversity and ecological health of our Pittsburgh river basins,” said Bergman.
For example, native red buds are beneficial for bees, according to the Penn State Extension. The flower clusters along the stems are rich in nectar and pollen for bees, when food is scarce it is spring.
Where they are planted
Planted areas in Pittsburgh include the Three Rivers Heritage Trail near Heinz Field, Carnegie Science Center, Heinz Field and PNC Park, and River Avenue on the North Shore Riverfront Trail.
Downtown Pittsburgh plantations include the entrance to Point State Park, Gateway Islands Median, and Grant Street.
Then there were other plantings around town in Frank Curto, Grandview and West End Overlook parks, Allegheny Landing, Station Square and along West Carson Street.
Pittsburgh-born landscape architect Frank Dawson came up with the idea of planting thousands of native redbuds in the city.
“In early spring, when the landscape is still varying shades of brown and gray, the last traces of winter, you sporadically come across the delicate pink of the red-bud tree that covers the tree line,” Dawson said, according to the conservation company.
The Redbud project also includes the planting of 1,400 shrubs and more than 8,200 perennials / grasses.
Mary Ann Thomas is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter.