Kentucky Coffeetree 10

Scientific Name

Gymnocladus dioicus
Legume

Characteristics

The Kentucky Coffeetree is a moderately fast-growing tree, reaching heights of 50 to 70 feet and flowers in June. The bark is deeply fissured, its surface scaly with prominent narrow ridges. The fruit is a hard-shelled bean in heavy, woody, thick-walled pods filled with sweet, thick, gooey pulp. The tough, leathery seed pods are too difficult for many animals to chew through (in addition to being poisonous) and they are too heavy for either wind or water dispersal. It is thus believed that the tree would have been browsed upon by now-extinct mammoths and mastodons which ate the pods and nicked the seeds with their large teeth, aiding in germination.