Thoughts on the Kentucky Coffeetree

From the Wiki:

The Kentucky Coffeetree is a moderately fast-growing tree and the male trees are often grown in parks and along city streets for ornamental purposes. The tree is typically long-lived, healthy trees living from 100 to 150 years;[5] however they often appear dead for the first six months of its growth.[citation needed] This is because the Kentucky Coffeetree sheds its leaves early during the fall and therefore appears bare for up to 6 months. The naked appearance of the tree is reflected through the Kentucky Coffeetree’s Greek genus name: γυμνοκλαδυς = “naked branch.”[6]

Gymnocladus dioicus is cultivated by specialty tree plant nurseries as an ornamental tree for planting in gardens and parks. The peculiarly late-emerging and early-dropping leaves, coupled with the fact that the large leaves mean few twigs in the winter profile, make it a tree that is ideal for urban shading where winter sunlight is to be maximized (such as in proximity to solar hot-air systems).

Think about this early fall leaf shed and the establishment of an overwintering crop. The germination of something like spinach might be aided by the shade of the tree, then come fall/winter the sun penetration should help the spinach get good root growth. It is also the last tree to put out leaves so that might be perfect for shade tolerant overwintered crops.

Click to access cs_gydi.pdf

Status: Kentucky coffeetree‟s numbers are declining rapidly due to over harvesting. The species is not invasive; it is only found in small clusters due to root sprouting and makes up a rare component of any woodland. In nature the seeds germinate with difficulty due to a hard outer shell. Squirrels do not cache them, so the seeds do not spread from the mother tree except along streams where the seeds may be transported by water down stream.
It looks like the KCT evolved along side some large animal that could break open the seed pods and is gradually disappearing due to their absence. Sounds like a good place for MANKIND to get involved and break up them seed pods.
It also looks like it isn’t a very good nitrogen fixer unfortunately, and doesn’t have a particularly fast growth rate. The seeds have use as coffee and fish poison. The wood is good but the leafing pattern is most interesting…

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