The Kentucky Coffeetree is a hardy tree that is a member of the legume family. It is found in the Midwest and eastern North America. It gets its name from its fruit which was once used by pioneers as a substitute for coffee.
The trees are medium-large, typically growing to a height of 50-90 feet with a 40-50 foot spread. It has a growth rate that is moderate to fast.
Flowers appear on the trees in May/June. Male and female flowers grow on separate trees. Both the female and male trees display greenish-white flowers arranged in elongated clusters, however the male flowers at four-inches long are much smaller than the female flowers which can be 12-inches long.
Leaves are very large and twice pinnately compound (1-1/2—3 inches) each leaf being made up with a number of leaflets. They emerge in late spring and are a pink-beige in color. They turn dark blue-green in summer. In fall, they become a golden yellow and fall from trees.
The Kentucky Coffeetree fruit is thick, flat and woody, containing six to nine tough, leathery seed pods which are toxic to ingest unless first roasted.
Kentucky Coffeetrees prefer full sunlight, humus-rich moist soil and is tolerant of drought, limestone and urban conditions. Hardiness Zones: 3-8.