The Kentucky coffeetree's tolerance to pollution and a wide range of soils makes it a suitable tree for urban environments. Native to the Midwest, this tree bears leathery, reddish-brown seed pods that add winter interest to the Midwestern landscape.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All common names:
- Residential and parks,
- City parkway,
- Wide median,
- Restricted sites
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Dry sites,
- Occasional drought,
- Wet sites,
- Alkaline soil,
- Road salt
- Messy fruit/plant parts
- Spring blossoms,
- Fragrant flowers,
- Persistent fruit/seeds
Seasons of Interest:
- late spring,
- early fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Tree & Plant Care
Transplant in sites with deep, rich, moist soil.
Consider male cultivars to avoid messy fruit.
Disease, pests, and problems
No serious pests.
The tree's leaves and seeds are poisonous.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Tolerant of high pH, drought, and pollution.
Native geographic location and habitat
Native to the Midwest. Often found along streams and in flood plains.
Bark color and texture
Bark is dark brown; rough, becoming scaly with curved edges.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, texture, and color
Alternate, bipinnately compound leaves; with numerous leaflets; lowest set of leaflets simple.
Leaflets, oval with entire margins and blue green color; mild yellow fall color.
The whole leaf is 36 inches long and 24 inches wide.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Long (8 to 10 inch) spike-like clusters of greenish white flowers; male and female flowers on separate trees.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
5 to 10 inch long, red-brown, leathery pods containing a few large rounded seeds on female trees.
Male trees are seedless.
Cultivars and their differences
“These plants are cultivars of a species that is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research. Cultivars are plants produced in cultivation by selective breeding or via vegetative propagation from wild plants identified to have desirable traits."
Prairie Titan™ (Gymnocladus dioicus ‘J.C McDaniel'): An upright, spreading male selection.
Stately Manor (Gymnocladus dioicus 'Stately Manor'): Male cultivar with a more narrow, upright form.