Kentucky Coffeetree

Kentucky Coffeetree is a species native to the Midwest and has recently gained popularity as a replacement for Ash and Elm trees.  It is a medium-sized tree that fits into many landscapes and provides interest all year with its bark, leaves, flowers, and fruit.

Coffeetree leaves are alternate and compound, and are made up of 6-14 small, green, oval leaflets. If there is not a real hard freeze right away in fall, Coffeetrees leaves will turn yellow. Leaves do drop quite early.

The species is dioecious, meaning trees either have only male flowers or female flowers. Both flowers are small and white, but female flowers develop into large pods that are 5”-10” long and about 1.5” wide. They contain large dark brown seeds, when mature they can remain on the trees well into the winter. While many people do not care for a tree that produces fruit, the large pods of this tree are quite ornamental while on the tree and are not produced in large numbers that make a big mess in your yard when they fall.

Young trees have a moderate growth rate, putting on about a foot of top growth in a good year. As they grow, they develop an open crown with coarse branches and can live to about 100+ years.

The Kentucky Coffeetree’s tolerance to pollution and a wide range of soils makes it a suitable tree for urban environments. It does grow best in moist, well-drained soils. The Kentucky Coffeetree has no serious pest problems.

For more information see:


Botanical name: Gymnocladus dioicus
All Common Names: Kentucky Coffeetree
Family (English): Pea
Family (Botanic): Fabaceae
Foliage: Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Height: 60′-75′
Spread: 40′-50′
Shape: Irregular, Oval
Exposure: Full Sun
Foliage: Blue-green

Bloom Time: June
Fall Foliage: Mild yellow
Zone: 3-8

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Kentucky Coffeetree