Yellowwood Tree
Yellowwood Leaf
Yellowwood Additional Product Shot 3279
Yellowwood Additional Product Shot 535
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Yellowwood Tree
Yellowwood Leaf
video screenshot
Yellowwood Additional Product Shot 3279
Yellowwood Additional Product Shot 535

Growth Facts

  • Hardiness Zone: 4-8
  • Spacing: 40-50'
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Show more ›


Cladrastis lutea

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The All-American Yellowwood is an underused medium to large shade tree that will bring an easy elegance to your landscape whether your garden style is grand and formal or more intimate and naturalistic. Its arching canopy and bright green leaves will create a shady spot below for playing, dining, or just unwinding in summer, and in fall, its foliage will light up your yard with a golden glow. In spring, you may be treated to a show of long chains of fragrant white flowers adorning this stellar specimen tree’s branches. Yellowwood doesn’t bloom every year, but when it does, it’s spectacular. Some think the blossoms smell like Pez candy!

Growth Facts

  • Hardiness Zone: 4-8
  • Spacing: 40-50'
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Show more ›

Recommended by Our Growers

The Story

Yellowwood’s botanical name, Cladrastis, means “fragile branch,” indicating that this is perhaps not the best tree for the kids’ tire swing.  Its wood is hard, though, and was probably used for gun stock in more than a few Civil War rifles.  Its species name, kentukea, is a nod to one of the states to which it is native.  In all of those states, however, yellowwood is listed as threatened, endangered, or in some degree of scarcity in the wild.  Planting one in your own yard will help ensure that this beautiful species lives on.

The Details

Good ol' American Yellowwood. Why's it called Yellowwood you ask? Because the wood of the tree contains yellow dye which colors the heartwood of the tree. All the crazy stuff we learn just by reading a tag! Anyway, this is one cool tree. The leaves when they first appear are yellowish-green but later turn to bright green in summer and then turn to yellow during fall. And the blooms on this tree are awesome (although Yellowwood only tends to bloom every few years)! Intensely fragrant, white flower clusters covers mature trees in late spring. The flower clusters will remind you of Wisteria blooms. After flowers fade, flat brown seed pods appear and mature in fall. American Yellowwood is one excellent, low maintenance tree that is well suited as a shade tree in your garden!

How to Grow

Although native to hot and humid Southeastern and Lower Midwestern states, Yellowwood is surprisingly cold-hardy, and can be grown as far north as Maine.  It prefers to have sun for most of the day, but is quite accepting of light shade as well.  It is not fussy about soil pH either, so whether you have an acid or an alkaline soil—or even if you don’t know which you have—it really doesn’t matter!  Its smooth, slate-gray bark is thin, and should be shielded from string trimmers and overzealous kitties.

More Info

Cold Tolerance/Hardiness Zone 4
Heat Tolerance/Hardiness Zone 8
Exposure Full Sun
Avg Mature Height 40'
Avg Mature Width 40'
Spacing 40-50'
Growth Rate Medium
Leaf Color Green
Fall Leaf Color Yellow
Flower Color White
Flower Time Early Summer
Cary Award Winner No
PA Gold Medal Award Yes
Attractive Bark Yes
Attracts Birds No
Attracts Butterflies No
Attracts Hummingbirds Yes
Attracts Pollinators No
Deer Resistant No
Drought Tolerant Yes
Dry, Poor Soils Yes
Edible Fruit No
Fragrant Yes
Groundcover No
Hedge/Windbreak Yes
Native Yes
Salt Tolerance/Seashore Yes
Seasonal Cut Branches No
Shade Tolerance No
Showy Flowers Yes
Specimen Yes
Urban Conditions Yes
Utility Line Trees No
Wet Moist Soils No
Winter Interest Yes
Woodland Garden Yes
Decor/Craft Use No

Size Guide

Size Guide Scale


Size: C

Size C

This graphic shows the approximate size and form of the Tree you are viewing.

Size C Trees:

10-12' tall. Grown and delivered balled and burlapped. Wide branching, strong structure, pruned from a young age to develop great featured branching and form. This tree is HUGE and will be an immediate impact in your landscape. We suggest that you have this size tree moved and planted by a professional.

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Yellowwood Tree
Yellowwood Leaf
Yellowwood Additional Product Shot 3279
Yellowwood Additional Product Shot 535