Pittsburgh Redbud Project
The Pittsburgh Redbud Project is an exciting initiative of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy funded by Colcom Foundation. The project launched in 2016 to plant thousands of flowering Eastern redbuds and complementary native trees on trails, hillsides and open spaces in downtown Pittsburgh in view of the city’s riverfronts.
Imagine celebrating spring in Pittsburgh with the vibrant purple and pink colors of native redbud trees lining the city’s trails, promenades, hillsides and open public spaces along the three rivers in downtown Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Redbud Project is advancing this effort with the planting of nearly 3,800 trees along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers to date.
The idea was developed by Frank Dawson, a Pittsburgh-based landscape architect. Frank observed that, “In early spring, when the landscape is still varying hues of brown and grey, the last vestiges of winter, you sporadically come upon the delicate burst of pink of the redbud tree, dappling the tree line.” The main goal of the Pittsburgh Redbud Project is to introduce bursts of spring color to downtown Pittsburgh’s three rivers through the planting of thousands of native redbud trees.
Simply put: Redbuds are beautiful, flowering trees and are among the first trees to bloom each spring! Flowering occurs before the trees' leaves form. Flowers are usually pink, but can have either white or purple foliage. Some wildlife feed on redbud seeds and bees use the trees' flowers for honey production. Evergreen trees, other flowering trees and shrubs have also been planted along with the redbuds to provide tree diversity and encourage tree health. These trees introduce bursts of spring color to downtown Pittsburgh’s three rivers, and as they mature and the canopy grows, the area transforms with even more native beauty while adding to the city's tree canopy.
In addition to the pretty flowers, The Pittsburgh Redbud Project has undertaken riparian buffer restoration efforts along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers. Non-native, invasive plants will be replaced with native trees, shrubs and perennial plants that will provide food and habitat for wildlife and improve water quality.
- Landscape trees: 1,669
- Restoration material: 3,027
- Perennials/grasses: 8,261
Every good project starts with great collaboration. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is the managing partner for the Pittsburgh Redbud Project with Riverlife and the City of Pittsburgh as collaborating partners. This project is funded by Colcom Foundation in recognition of the foundation’s 20th anniversary. Many individual volunteers and volunteer groups have helped plant trees in downtown Pittsburgh, Point State Park and Frank Curto Park, on Mount Washington, near Carnegie Science Center and along the North Shore. Through this project, the Conservancy has also given away more than 2,000 redbud tree saplings or seeds to volunteers and community members.