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Kentucky Coffee Tree Gymnocladus dioicus

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
jim-noh-KLAY-dus dye-oh-EE-kus
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Kentucky Coffee Tree is a slow to moderate growing deciduous native tree in the bean family.  It is resistant to air pollution and drought and makes an excellent addition to a rain garden or in a landscape to provide shade.  Their interesting shape and seed pods are attractive and make for winter interest in a landscape.

Plant in the full sun in moist, well-drained soil though this tree tolerates a wide range of soil types.  Select male plants to avoid seed pods.  It is a good dependable city tree which is drought and air pollution tolerant

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems though some consider the leaf litter and seed pods a nuisance on hardscaped surfaces.  

Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#showy flowers#deciduous#large shade tree#poisonous#rain garden#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#native tree#low maintenance#winter interest#air pollution tolerant#street tree#showy fruits#NC native#messy fruits
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#showy flowers#deciduous#large shade tree#poisonous#rain garden#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#native tree#low maintenance#winter interest#air pollution tolerant#street tree#showy fruits#NC native#messy fruits
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Gymnocladus
    Species:
    dioicus
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The roasted, ground pods were used as a coffee substitute though it has no caffeine. Seeds were roasted for food because they are toxic raw.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South Eastern Canada to Central & Eastern U.S.A
    Edibility:
    Seeds, roasted and ground, can be used as a substitute for coffee; does not have caffeine.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 60 ft. 0 in. - 75 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 40 ft. 0 in. - 50 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Horizontal
    Irregular
    Open
    Oval
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Female trees develop fruit; a flat black to red-brown 10" seed pod with 4-7 seeds with a sticky pulp between them. Male trees are considered desirable because of lack of pods, though they can be attractive.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Greenish white showy bloom in the late spring to early summer. Separate male and female trees. Male flowers appear in clusters 4" long while female flowers are in fragrant12" long panicles.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Insignificant
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Greenish white showy bloom in the late spring to early summer. Seperate male and female trees. Male flowers appear in clusters 4" long while female flowers are in fragrant12" long panicles.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Scaly
    Bark Description:
    Scaly rough brown-gray bark
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Riparian
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Native Garden
    Rain Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Street Tree
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Pollution
    Problems:
    Messy
    Poisonous to Humans
    Weak Wood
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN. The pulp between the seeds can be mistaken for the sweet, non-toxic pulp of the honey locust. Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, irregular pulse, coma.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Alkaloid cytisine
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits