The specific epithet for redbud hazel, cercidifolius, implies that the “leaves are of Cercis”; the resemblance is such that a quick glance at the shrub can lead to misidentification during certain times of the year. However, when the chlorophyll in the leaves of Disanthus cercidifolius begins to break down, a panoply of colours are revealed dissimilar to the autumn colours of Cercis.
The genus Disanthus is monotypic, meaning it contains only one species (compare with a monotypic family – it would only contain one genus, like the Nepenthaceae). Similarly, it is recognized that Disanthus has no close relatives within the witch-hazel family, relatively speaking. For more on its phylogenetic relationships, see: Li et al. 1999. Phylogenetic relationships of the Hamamelidaceae inferred from sequences of internal transcribed spacers (ITS) of nuclear ribosomal DNA. Am. J. Bot. 86:1027-1037.
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