One of the earliest trees to bloom in the spring is the redbud. This favorite ornamental rarely reaches heights of greater than 20 feet. The redbud comes in three color varieties: white, red, and purple. They are self-pollinating and a fast grower, but that also means they have a shorter lifespan. The redbud is a member of the legumes- their seed pods and flowers are edible. They are forgiving of soil types, growing best in moist, well-drained sites.
Maimee Lee Robinson Browne (1881-1963) had a special fondness for the redbud, and made its survival her mission. Browne served as the general chairman of the Oklahoma City Beautification Committee, leading awareness and planting campaigns, as well as pushing for the redbud to become the official state tree of Oklahoma. Her efforts overcame the objections of opponents, including the formidable Roberta Campbell Lawson of Tulsa, who contended that the Eastern redbud and the European redbud or Judas tree (connected to the betrayer of Biblical times, Judas Iscariot) were one and the same. Success was finally attained on March 30, 1937, when Governor E.W. Marland and the Sixteenth Legislature signed joint resolution officially bestowing the redbud's historical role in Oklahoma history, however it was not officially declared the state tree until June 24, 1971 by Governor David Hall.