2008 Theodore Klein Plant Award Winner

Cercis canadensis ‘Silver Cloud’ – Silver Cloud Red BudCercis canadensis ‘Silver Cloud’ – Silver Cloud redbud is an outstanding Theodore Klein selection found in his nursery field of seedling redbuds. The white on green foliage is striking and holds up reasonably well through the summer. The variegation observed in Silver Cloud redbud is most likely the result of a “jumping gene” caused by a transposon.  Transposons are pieces of DNA that move from one location to another on a chromosome.  If the transposon moves into a gene important for pigment production, that cell is unable to produce that pigment. The resultant irregular patterns show up as blotches, dots, irregular lines and streaks. Dr. Barbara McClintock, won the 1983 Nobel Prize for describing this pigment variegation in corn grains.

This plant is a favorite of all who know it and was a particular favorite of J. C. Raulston that he showed to every visitor he took on tour at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum. In Harrison Flint's book he states that "J.C. Raulston has pointed out that the white-variegated foliage is most effective on vigorous plants under full sun but cool conditions", while Dirr says "best grown in some shade". A number of years ago Bonnie Appleton and others at the VATech Hampton Roads Research Center had an under-power-lines plant evaluation out. 'Silver Cloud' redbud performed well in full sun under what could only be deemed harsh conditions. At the UKREC Botanic Gardens in Princeton, KY it is being grown in full sun on compacted disturbed clay soils and it has performed well there. It's tolerance of soils and heat is matched by it's hardiness, having survived the -24°F of several Kentucky winters. The very old declining original plant at Yew Dell (image below) was replaced in 2007. Because of the continuing interest in this plant, once impossible to find, it is now readily available. (Win Dunwell plant images, Monrovia Growers bloom image)