Family: Fabaceae (Caesalpiniaceae)
Common Name: Kentucky coffeetree
A cultivar is a variety of plant produced in cultivation for desirable characteristics. Many predominately male cultivars are available such as “Espresso”, “J.C. McDaniel”, and “Stately Manor” none of which produce seed (4).
Region of Origin: Kentucky coffeetree is native to the Midwest of North America. There are a few scattered patches of Kentucky coffeetree in the eastern United States where Native Americans planted the tree (2).
Photo retrieved from: luriegarden.org
Photo retrieved from: sluh.org
Uses, Care and Limitations: Kentucky coffeetree is well suited to be used in large yards and parks (3). Kentucky coffeetree has large leaves, up to 3’long, divided into 3-7 pinnae, with individual leaflets about 1-3” long. Leaflets are blue-green in the summer, and a beautiful yellow in the fall (3). Due to the large stature of the tree and distinct leaves, mature trees will cast light shade (3). Both male and female trees flower in late spring (between May-June). Male flowers appear in clusters and are about 4” long (3). Female flowers appear as panicles and are about 12” long. Both male and female flowers are greenish-white (3). Fertilized female trees produce seedpods, which ripen in October and persist into winter (3). While Male trees are generally preferred because of the lack of seedpods, mature female frees with seedpods can be attractive against the winter sky (3).
Kentucky coffeetree has no major limitations. Trees producing seedpods can cause litter problems however there are many predominately male cultivars available none of which produce seedpods (3).
Photo retrieved from: igrow.org
Kentucky coffeetree is a tough tree, able to withstand heat, drought, very alkaline soils, and soil compaction (1).
Size at Maturity:
· Height: 60-80 feet, less frequently reaching 100 feet (3)
· Canopy spread: 40-50 feet (3)
· Diameter at breast height: 24-36 inches (3)
· Roughly 100 years (1)
· Dioecious (separate male and female trees) (1)
· Perfect flowers (trees have either all male or female flowers)(1)
· Flowers are fragrant but can be hidden by foliage (1)
· Flowers bloom in late May to early June, and lasts about 2 to 3 weeks (1).
· Large flattened seedpods replace fertile flowers. Seedpods mature during fall and persist through the winter (1).
· No major problems relating to pests and disease (3)
· Litter from large leaves and seedpods can be troublesome (3)
Kentucky coffeetree is a tough tree, able to withstand heat, drought, very alkaline soils, and soil compaction (1). The trees ability to persist under harsh conditions makes it well adept for urban conditions (1).
· Soil: Moist, rich, well-drained soils (3)
· Sun: Full sun (3)
· USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 to 8 (3)
· Will tolerate poor soils and drought (3)