Kentucky Coffee Tree (gymnocladus dioica)

Posted by Super User
on 01 January 2014

Native to the central United States, Kentucky coffee tree is a member of the pea family. Its name -- from the Greek, meaning "naked branches" -- refers to the fact that it loses most of its leaves in the early autumn. It is also one of the last trees to leaf out in the spring.

A tall, handsome, somewhat slow-growing tree, the Kentucky coffee tree can reach cultivated heights of 60 to 75 feet (taller in the wild). Its stout branches carry large, compound leaves with many leaflets. The bark is rough, scaly, and dark grayish brown. The reddish brown pealike pods of female trees hang on into the winter.

Kentucky coffee tree likes full sun and moist, fertile soil. It is a tough tree that can adapt to dry soils and city stress, and insects are not usually a serious problem.

Use a male for a street tree to avoid pod litter. The Kentucky coffee tree is too big for the small landscape but is a park or large garden candidate. It has a bold winter silhouette.

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