Kentucky Coffee

Scientific name: Gymnocladus dioica

Kentucky coffee tree is a large, moderately fast-growing, deciduous tree, native to the United States. It is a member of the bean or legume family. The canopy is open, spreading, and rounded in shape. It typically grows in full sun and reaches 60-80 ft tall and 40-60 ft wide. Large, blue-green, compound leaves (up to 3’ long!) give this tree a tropical look. In the fall, leaves turn a showy yellow. Scaly, gray-brown bark stands out in the winter. Inconspicuous white-gray flowers are fragrant. Appearing in fall, fruits are poisonous, long woody pods with inedible seeds that look like large coffee beans. Indeed, this tree was named for the past use of its roasted seeds as a substitute for coffee. Tolerant of a wide range of soil types and urban conditions, air pollution, and drought. Outstanding in all seasons, this tree may live between 50-150 years. Recommended for parks, residential areas, rain gardens, and other large open spaces to provide shade.

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