Monday, June 3, 2019

Yellowwood Tree - Cladrastis kentukea

The Yellowwood Tree - Cladrastis kentukea, is a medium sized deciduous member of the legume family.  With it's smooth elephant grey bark, pendulous fragrant flowers, and red/brown stems it offers beauty to any landscape year round.  It is native to the Eastern United States, most notably two very small areas, one runs along the Kentucky and Tennessee border, and the other between Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma.  It is commonly planted in landscapes from New England south to Washington DC & Virginia.   Yellowwood is hardy from zones 4a to 8b and can be purchased from most large nurseries in the Eastern US.  

The leaves are composed of widely spaced leaflets that are alternate not opposite one another. There are usually 9-11 leaflets per leaf.  The leaves are a yellow green in Spring, bright green by Summer and then Yellow in the Fall.  The wood of this tree contains a Yellow dye which stains the heartwood, hence the name Yellowwood. 

The flowers of the Yellowwood are very similar to Wisteria, they grow in a pendulous form and feature white fragrant flowers.  The flowers are small and grow on open panicles ranging from 10-15 inches long.   They are considered to be highly fragrant and appear in May.  The flowers give way to long brown seed pods as the Spring Summer season changes.

Image Citations (Photos 1-3): Missouri Botanical Gardens - 
 (This is a great site for plant/tree information and id help)

When mature this tree can reach heights of 30-50 feet and a spread of 40-55  feet wide.  It is considered to be virtually pest free and quite hardy in it's native range.  This tree is easily transplanted in B&B or bareroot up to 2 inches in caliper.
The Society of Municipal Arborist named this tree the "2015 Urban Tree Of The Year", this selection was made based on it's adaptability and strong ornamental traits.   

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