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Kentucky Coffee Tree
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A capital perching tree, Kentucky Coffee Tree will give your backyard birds a fine vantage point from which to survey the land. This noble native grows tall and vase-shaped; it makes an excellent replacement for the majestic Ash Trees that have been decimated by the emerald Ash borer in recent years. Coffee Tree’s huge leaves are composed of dozens of small leaflets that create a pool of dappled shade under the tree—you’ll find this the perfect spot for growing shade-loving plants that provide additional wildlife habitat. In late spring, hummingbirds may visit the greenish-white flowers on female trees.
- Hardiness Zone: 3-7
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Recommended by Our Growers
Coffee anyone? The Kentucky Coffee Tree gives off a tropical vibe, though it’s native to the U.S. This majestic tree is found throughout the Lower Midwest, but only in isolated patches. It gets its name from the fact that settlers used to roast and grind its seeds to make a coffee substitute. The roasting was an important step, because the seeds are toxic if eaten raw. It’s doubtful that the Coffee Tree drink tasted any good, because once the settlers had access to the real thing, they never made it again. Coffee Tree is a dioecious plant, which means that male flowers and female flowers are found on separate trees. Only female trees produce seeds.
Kentucky Coffee Tree is one of the last trees to leaf out in the spring, so be patient! When the foliage does emerge, it’s a bright pink color, maturing to a cool blue-green. In fall, the leaflets turn a wonderful radiant yellow, while the leaf stems take on hot pink tones.
How to Grow
Looking for an easy-to-please shade tree? Kentucky Coffee Tree is simple to grow and forgiving of harsh conditions. Give it a site in full sun. Deep, loamy soils on the alkaline side suit it best, but this tree tolerates poor soil. Irrigate with the Bower & Branch Elements™ Watering System to help your tree get off to a strong start. Once established, your Coffee Tree will be quite drought tolerant. It can also handle extreme heat and humidity, winter lows to -30°F, de-icing salts, and air pollution! Young trees will have very little branching, and no pruning will be needed; however, suckers may appear from the roots from time to time and should be pulled out. Coffee Trees have no major pest or disease issues to worry about.
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