Pittsburgh Redbud Project
The Pittsburgh Redbud Project is an exciting initiative of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy that launched in 2016 with funding from the Colcom Foundation. With the help of hundreds of volunteers and partners, we've planted thousands of flowering Eastern redbuds and other complementary native trees and shrubs on trails, hillsides and open spaces in downtown Pittsburgh and on the North Shore in view of the city’s riverfronts.
Thanks to seven years of planting thousands of trees through the Pittsburgh Redbud Project, Pittsburgh now welcomes spring with vibrant bursts of pink color from native Eastern redbud trees lining the city’s trails, promenades, hillsides, parks and open public spaces along the three rivers in downtown and along the North Shore. With the help of Pittsburgh Redbud Project volunteers and partners, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has planted 3,770 new trees at several locations along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers.
This idea was developed by Pittsburgh native and landscape architect Frank Dawson to introduce bursts of natural color to downtown Pittsburgh’s three rivers through the planting of thousands of native redbud and complementary tree species. Frank observed that, “In early spring, when the landscape is still varying hues of brown and grey, you sporadically come upon the delicate burst of pink of the redbud tree dappling the tree line.”
Simply put: Eastern redbuds are beautiful, flowering trees and are among the first native tree species to bloom each April. Springtime foliage occurs before the trees' leaves form, and redbud tree flowers are usually pink, but can also be white or purple. Some wildlife feed on redbud seeds and pollinators find them useful, too, as 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 also introduce bursts of spring color to and enhance visual interest around Pittsburgh’s three rivers. As these trees mature and the canopy grows, the area will continue to transform with even more native beauty while adding to the city's tree canopy, among several other tree benefits.
In addition to adding more natural color, the Pittsburgh Redbud Project is also helping to restore the riparian buffer along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers. Since 2016, non-native, invasive plants are being replaced with thousands of native trees, shrubs and perennial plants that are providing food and habitat for wildlife and improving water and air quality. Here are the types and quantity of native vegetation planted to date:
- Trees: 3,770
- Shrubs: 1,804
- Perennials/grasses: 9,442
The Pittsburgh Redbud Project is an initiative of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, and this, and every other good project, starts with great collaboration! As the managing partner, the Conservancy works closely with other organizations around Pittsburgh to help maximize project goals and optimize opportunities to restore our riverfronts. We're grateful to the following partners for helping to advance this initiative:
The Pittsburgh Redbud Project wouldn't be possible without community support, too. With initial funding from Colcom Foundation in recognition of its 20th anniversary, the project has successfully advanced thanks to many individual volunteers and volunteer groups who 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 free redbud tree saplings and seeds to volunteers and community members from across Pittsburgh.
For More Information:
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
The Pittsburgh Redbud Project
800 Waterfront Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15222