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Coffeetree, Kentucky Gymnocladus dioicus

Kentucky Coffeetree - Gymnocladus dioicus
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Picturesque in summer and winter, coarse ascending branches often form a narrow crown. Oval leaflets emerge late in spring, changing from pinkish-tinged to a dark, almost blue-green. Tolerates most conditions, drought and pollution. Needs full sun. Grows to 60'-75' with a 45' spread. (Zones 3-8)

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Zones 3 - 8 Zones 3 - 8
Hardiness Zones 3 - 8
The Kentucky Coffeetree can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the arborday.org zone map. View Map
Ornamental Tree Ornamental Tree
Type of tree
Ornamental Trees, Shade Trees
60' - 75' High 60' - 75' High
Mature Height
The Kentucky Coffeetree grows to be 60' - 75' feet in height.
40' - 50' Spread 40' - 50' Spread
Mature Spread
The Kentucky Coffeetree has a spread of about 40' - 50' at full maturity.
Slow to Medium Growth Slow to Medium Growth
Growth Rate
This tree grows at a slow to medium growth rate. More about this.
Full Sun Full Sun
Sun
This coffeetree does well in full sun.
Various Soils Various Soils
Soil
The Kentucky Coffeetree grows in acidic, alkaline, drought tolerant, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, well drained, wet, wide range, clay soils.
Oval Shape Oval Shape
Shape
This coffeetree has oval, rounded shape.
Attributes

Resistant to disease and able to adapt to a wide variety of soils and climates, the Kentucky Coffeetree is an excellent choice for parks and golf courses. It is also widely used as an ornamental and street tree.

Description

Picturesque in summer and winter, coarse ascending branches often form a narrow crown. Oval leaflets emerge late in spring, changing from pinkish-tinged to a dark, almost blue-green. Tolerates most conditions, drought and pollution. Needs full sun. Grows to 60'-75' with a 45' spread. (Zones 3-8)

Wildlife Value

Sources disagree on which parts of the seed pods are edible. Although the seeds have been roasted to make a type of coffee, one source says the raw seeds are poisonous. The seed pulp is reportedly toxic to cattle, but it has been used in home remedies.

History/Lore/Use

The Kentucky Coffeetree is native to the central states of America from Pennsylvania to Nebraska and from Minnesota to Oklahoma. This tree gets its name because early Kentucky settlers noticed the resemblance of its seeds to coffee beans. Timber from this tree tends to be brittle, but can be used for fence posts. In earlier times, its wood was used in the construction of railway sleeper cars.

Moisture

It tolerates some wet soil, yet has extreme drought tolerance.

Leaves

This tree has bipinnately compound, 2 to 3 inches long leaflets, light green in summer and yellow in autumn.

Flower Color

Purplish flowers of the female tree have a rose-like fragrance. These mature into large, brownish seed pods containing large 3/4-inch bean-like seeds. Pods remain on the tree throughout the winter. Raw seeds are toxic to humans.

Bloom Time

April-May.

Fruit Description

This tree produces a pod, 5 to 10 inches long, dry, hard, green turning to brown.