Some beautiful and long-lasting trees bear purple flowers each spring. Flowering cherries and redbuds are harbingers of spring, with early blooms. Others, such as the jacaranda, bloom later in the season but provide color for one to two months. Purple flowering trees grow in a variety of soils and in numerous hardiness zones.
The Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis L.) grows from upstate New York to Florida and west to New Mexico. It bursts out with purple and purplish pink flowers in early spring. These flowers are short-lived, falling a few weeks after first appearing on the tree's gray limbs. The Eastern redbud has a high drought tolerance, withstands annual rainfalls of between 20 and 80 inches and grows in fine- to medium-textured soils with a pH of 5.0 to 7.9.
The Jacaranda mimosifolia (syn. J. acutifolia) tree is good as a specimen tree or as a mass planting. Thousands of purple trumpet flowers bunch together at the end of its branches in pyramid-shaped clusters. Blooms last up to two months. Native to the Amazon river basin, Jacaranda mimosifolia flourishes in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. This tree likes a sunny location, well-drained soils and medium moisture.
While Japanese flowering cherry trees are more famous for pink and white blossoms, the Takasago flowering cherry (Prunus serrulata 'Takasago') presents pale pink blooms that turn almost white before the flowers' centers turn dark purple. Flowers are slightly fragrant. Other names for Takasago include Prunus sieboldii, Siebold's cherry, Naden's cherry and Prunus serrulata caespitosa.
The purple lily magnolia (Magnolia liliiflora 'Nigra') grows 6 to 10 feet high and 4 to 8 feet wide. Suitable for USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9, this evergreen magnolia produces flower petals with dark purple exteriors and pink interiors. It grows in full sun, needs weekly watering and has a long blooming season.
Texas Mountain Laurel
The Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora (Ortega)) or Mescal bean is an ornamental tree that usually grows 10 to 15 feet tall. It produces clusters of purple lavender flowers with a fragrance "reminiscent of artificial grape products," according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center database. The plant grows well in full sun on limestone soils in Texas and New Mexico.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Conservation Plant Characteristics--Cercis canadensis L.--eastern redbud
- Shutter Moments: Guide to Vancouver Ornamental Cherry Trees
- Floridata: Jacarana Acutifolia
- Monrovia: Purple Lily Magnolia
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Native Plant Database--Texas Mountain Laurel
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Plants Profile - Cercis canadensis L.--eastern redbud
Austin resident Thomas Charles has written professionally for more than 30 years, first as a daily newspaper reporter, more recently online with SEO content, consumer and high tech marketing, public relations and grant campaigns. He holds a journalism and law degree from the University of Texas.