Trees of Alabama and the Southeast

Lisa Samuelson, Ph.D.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Auburn University

KENTUCKY COFFEETREE
Gymnocladus dioicus
Caesalpiniaceae

Leaves are bipinnately compound, alternate and deciduous with up to 13 ovate to oval leaflets alternate on the rachis (leaflets of most species are arranged oppositely on the rachis). Twigs are red-brown, mottled and stout with orange lenticels and heart-shaped leaf scars. Bark is light brown to gray becoming loosely ridged and scaly. Fruit is a woody, flat legume about 8 inches long containing brown oval seeds. Form is up to 30 m (100 ft) in height with a narrow crown. Kentucky coffeetree is found scattered in the eastern US as far south as northern Alabama usually on fertile, moist sites. The heavy wood is used for fencing. The seeds were roasted and used as a coffee substitute but raw seeds are poisonous. Planted as an ornamental.

Photographs by Mike Hogan.

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