Kentucky coffeetree

Silhouette - Kentucky coffeetree
  • Latin name: Gymnocladus dioicus (L.) K. Koch
  • French name: Chicot févier
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 502851
  • NA3 , C5
Description

Leaves

  • Doubly compound leaf - Kentucky coffeetree
  • Leaflet - Kentucky coffeetree

Form

  • Deciduous, alternate
  • Doubly pinnately compound
  • Composed of about 70 leaflets
  • On 3–7 pairs of branches from a central stalk
  • Central stalk easily mistaken for a stem
  • Leaflets ovate
  • Short-stalked
  • Seldom opposite each other
  • No terminal leaflet
  • Tree is leafless more than half the year

Length

  • Leaflets about 5 cm
  • Leaf and central stalk 30–90 cm

Colour

  • Bluish-green

Margin

  • Smooth

Buds

Form

  • Terminal bud absent
  • Twig tip tapered to a blunt point
  • Lateral buds small, blunt, with several scales, covered with dark silky hairs
  • 2 or 3 in a group above the leaf scar
  • Upper bud largest
  • Leaf scars large, inversely heart-shaped, with many vein scars

Length

  • 6–9 mm

Twigs

  • Lateral bud group and leaf scar - Kentucky coffeetree
  • Winter twig - Kentucky coffeetree

Form

  • Very stout
  • Widely spaced
  • Pith large

Colour

  • Twigs greyish-brown
  • Pith deep orange-red

Flowers

Form

  • In large, open, many-branched terminal clusters (panicles)

Colour

  • Greenish-white

Structure

  • Dioecious
  • Insect-pollinated

Floral timing

  • Spring with the leaves

Fruits

  • Fruit pod  - Kentucky coffeetree

Form

  • Husk hard, leathery
  • Usually with a powdered appearance
  • Hanging on a stout stalk
  • Remaining on the tree through the winter

Length

  • Pod 12–20 cm
  • Stalk 2–3 cm

Colour

  • Husk dark reddish-brown

Structure

  • Legume

Seeds

  • Seed - Kentucky coffeetree

Form

  • Large, rounded
  • Slightly flattened, hard-shelled
  • Few in each pod, imbedded in a sweet, sticky pulp

Length

  • About 2 cm

Colour

  • Dark brown

Bark

Form

  • Hard, firm, with thin scaly ridges curling outward along their edges

Colour

  • Dark grey

Wood

Texture

  • Moderately heavy, hard
  • Decay-resistant

Colour

  • Reddish-brown

Morphology

  • Ring-porous
  • Rays scarcely visible

Size

Height

  • To 25 m

Diameter

  • To 60 cm

Maximum age

  • 75 years

Tree form

  • Silhouette - Kentucky coffeetree

Forest-grown

Crown

  • Principal branches ascending
  • Crown narrow

Habitat

Site

  • Mainly on deep rich soils

Associated species

  • Other broadleaf trees

Range

Rare in Canada; southwestern Ontario

COSEWIC Status

Threatened

Photos
  • Kentucky coffeetree
  • Kentucky coffeetree
  • Kentucky coffeetree
  • Kentucky coffeetree
  • Kentucky coffeetree
  • Kentucky coffeetree
  • Kentucky coffeetree
Distribution map
Distribution map - Kentucky coffeetree
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