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.

The Inspiration to Plant Redbuds

Pittsburgh Redbud Project

Because of the thousands of new trees and grasses planted through the Pittsburgh Redbud Project, Pittsburgh now welcomes spring with vibrant bursts of pink color from native Eastern redbud trees! These trees line the city’s trails, promenades, hillsides, parks and open public spaces along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers in downtown and along the North Shore and are spectacular to see when in full bloom each April. Thanks to the help of many Pittsburgh Redbud Project volunteers and partners, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has planted 3,770 new trees at several locations along the three 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.”

Why Redbuds?

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 and enhance visual interest around downtown Pittsburgh’s three rivers. As the trees mature and the tree canopy grows, this 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 and provide wildlife habitat along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio rivers. Through the Pittsburgh Redbud Project, non-native, invasive plants are being replaced with thousands of native trees, shrubs and perennial plants that are providing food and habitat for wildlife, while 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

Experience the Redbuds in Bloom Each April!

The Eastern redbud tree hits full bloom about a month after spring officially begins each year, with colorful pink blossoms that start to bud in early-to-mid April. That pop of color is a sure sign of spring and warmer weather, so you don't want to miss when these beautiful redbuds trees are in bloom!

Click this GIS map to find the specific locations where you can get outdoors and see these beautiful trees each April. Also, thanks to our partnership with VisitPittsburgh, a new redbud-themed blog, Insider's Guide: Pittsburgh Redbuds, provides visitors and tourists with information, interesting facts and an engaging map to experience Pittsburgh's Eastern redbud trees in relation to downtown and North Shore hotels and restaurants.

Partners, Volunteers and Funders: Thank you!

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. Hundreds of volunteers 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.

WPC Planting Trees in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Redbud Project seedling giveaway
The Pittsburgh Redbud Project
For More Information:

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
The Pittsburgh Redbud Project
800 Waterfront Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Alicia Wehrle
Community Forestry Project Coordinator