Trees of Wisconsin

Gymnocladus dioicus (L.) K.Koch
Kentucky coffee tree
Family: Caesalpiniaceae
tree branch leaf fruit leaf scar bark

The leaves of Gymnocladus dioicus are alternate and twice compound. The ultimate divisions of the leaves are broader than 1 cm with acute tips and there are no thorns. The only other Wisconsin tree regularly producing twice compound leaves, Gleditsia triacanthos, has ultimate leaf divisions less than 1 cm broad and blunt pointed, and it usually develops thorns (in wild plants, but often not in horticultural plants). The fruit of Gymnocladus dioicus is a thick, tough legume (see above) that tends to stay on the tree into winter. The bark is dark gray and often forms large, curling scales as the trunks mature.

The range of Gymnocladus dioicus is from eastern Nebraska and Oklahoma east to Tennessee and western New York, and north through Iowa to southern Wisconsin and Michigan. Naturally occurring plants are rare in Wisconsin in the southern counties but it is sometimes planted as a yard or street tree and does well in the Green Bay area when planted.

known Wisconsin distribution


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