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Kentucky Coffeetree

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Kentucky Coffeetree

Gymnocladus dioicus

Family: Fabaceae

Leaf Type: Deciduous

Mature Height: ~18 m (~60 ft)

Fall Color: Yellow

Native Range: Kentucky coffeetrees have a relatively small range throughout the Midwest.

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Features

The leaves of the Kentucky coffeetree are compound which means that the full leaf is made up of smaller leaflets. Kentucky coffeetrees have double compound leaves with five to nine pairs of leaflets which then each have six to fourteen subleaflets. This can make the full leaf measure up to 30 inches. The fruit of these trees is a hard-shelled bean that is encased in a woody pod. The pod is full of a thick, gooey pulp. The seed inside the pod begins as an orange-brown before turning black when mature. Mature pods can be roasted as a coffee substitute but are poisonous if unroasted. We recommend not sampling the fruits & nuts of the trees and plants here at Adventure Science Center. The bark of Kentucky coffeetrees is pale gray with long ridges. Young trees have orange colored furrows. Mature trees have curled scales that peel.

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Fun Facts

● The seeds of the Kentucky coffeetree can be roasted as a coffee substitute, hence the name.
● The Kentucky coffeetree was the state tree of Kentucky from 1976 to 1994.

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