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Cladrastis kentukea (Dum.-Cours.) Rudd
Kentucky yellowwood, Yellowwood, Gopherwood, Virgilia
Synonyms: Cladrastis lutea
USDA Symbol: CLKE
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
Kentucky yellow-wood is a small, deciduous tree that rarely reaches 50 ft. in height. It is as wide as tall, with graceful, pendulous branches and bright-green, pinnately-compound leaves. Showy, pendent, foot-long spikes of cream-colored flowers appear in quantity only two or three times a decade. Fall color is a delicate orange or yellow. Bark is smooth and beech-like.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf:
Green Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
AL , AR , CT , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , ME , MO , MS , NC , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN Native Distribution:
S. IN & s. MO, s. to NC & e. OK Native Habitat:
Mesic woods; ravines; river valleys; limestone slopes USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(I)
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Low Light Requirement:
Part Shade Soil pH:
Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2) CaCO3 Tolerance:
Medium Soil Description:
Rich, well-drained soils. Conditions Comments:
Yellowwood is rare throughout its range. It provides excellent shade but has such deep roots that grasses and shrubs grow easily beneath it. The deep roots, however, make transplanting difficult. The tree
is slow-growing in its early years. Once established, this tree
is drought-tolerant and nearly pest-free. Corrective pruning is often necessary to eliminate weak branch forks. Do not prune in the spring or immediately after transplanting. Very few disease and insect problems. Open-grown specimens are more vase-like in outline than the taller, narrower woodland specimens.
BenefitConspicuous Flowers: yes
Propagate by seed or root cuttings. Take cuttings in December and hold in nearly dry sand until transplanting to well-drained, fertile soil in mid-spring. Seed Collection:
Not Available Seed Treatment:
Like all legume
seeds, these need scarification. After scarification, stratification may or may not be necessary. Commercially Avail:
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Georgia Native Plant Society
- Atlanta, GA
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Record Modified: 2012-10-20
Research By: TWC Staff