Common Name: American Yellowwood
Botanical Name: Cladrastis kentukea
Native Range: South, Midwest, Northeast
Growth Rate: 9’-12’over an 8-10 year period. Will grow faster with adequate water and fertilizer.
Sun: Full Sun to part shade
Leaf Description: Alternate, odd-pinnately compound leaflets with the entire leaf 8-12 inches long. The stem is slender, smooth and bright reddish brown.
Fall Color: The leaf opens as bright yellow/green changing to bright green in the height of summer. Fall color ranges from yellow to golden yellow.
Flower Timing: Late May to early June
Flower Description: White fragrant flowers are 8 to 14 inches long, bees are attracted to the nectar. Tends to produce the greatest number of flowers in alternate years.
Fruit: The fruit is a flat legume containing hard coated seeds.
Bark Description: Thin and gray to light brown retaining color as the tree ages. The bark is smooth and beech -like in texture and appearance.
Wildlife Benefit: Pollinators such as bees are attracted to the flower nectar.
Tolerates: Tolerates both high pH and acid soils as well as full sun.
Possible Insects: None serious
Possible Disease: Very few problems are found in this tree although verticillium wilt has been seen in one arboretum.
Uses: Considered an excellent tree for its flowers and foliage. Yellowwood’s medium height and spreading patterns are considered assets as a shade tree for smaller landscapes. The tree’s foliage, bark and flowering pattern enhance its landscape presence.
Where to be found on municipal property: Mature specimen in Marquand Park adjacent to the weeping hemlock, 2 newly planted specimens on Aiken Ave walking towards the Harrison Street Park entrance.
- The tree’s name is attributed to the yellow color of its freshly cut heartwood.
- Dirr, M. A.; Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. 2019
- Feathers, S. “A Shade Tree with Benefits” Penn State Ext, 2014
Printable Info Sheet (PDF)