Cercis Siliquastrum aka Erguvan, or in other words...Redbud Tree
The other day, Anonymous stopped by and left a comment on my post about Boğaziçi University. (For newcomers, BU is the setting for my novel.) Anonymous pined for the lovely campus of his/her alma mater and reminded me of how beautiful the erguvan trees are in the spring. Of course, I'm a sucker for flowering anything, and Istanbul in bloom is just breathtaking. How could I not mention it in my writing someplace? (It's in chapter two of Burnt Amber, btw.)
So what is an erguvan tree? Cercis siliquastrum, aka theredbud tree. The Bosphorus strait is dotted with redbuds for a few weeks in late April/early May. Some areas, Bebek included, have pockets of the trees like the one in the picture. It's no wonder that Roxelana's favorite color was erguvan mauve. There was nothing the Ottomans didn't have in that color.
Here in the Carolinas, we have its cousin, native cercis canadensis, blanketing our hillsides. Dainty blooms, ornamental seed pods and pretty heart shaped leaves make an attractive tree, so redbuds are popular in gardens of the southeast and all the way up into southern New England. When my grandmother passed away I planted a dwarf weeping variety called "Covey" at my old house in New Haven. I also have several of the burgundy leaved "Forest Pansy" variety in my new backyard. Currently, I'm coveting a new variety borne of "Forest Pansy" and "Covey", "Ruby Falls", which both weeps AND has beautiful burgundy foliage. I just need to find that sweet spot for it.
Green twigs have been used in southern Appalachia to season venison for years, so the tree is also known as spicewood up in the mountains. Native Americans ate the buds raw or boiled and roasted the seeds. I haven't tried any of these recipes, but some buds might look pretty on top of a salad...