The Cladrastis Kentuckea -- a Kentucky native

The Cladrastis Kentuckea
The Cladrastis Kentuckea

By Cindi Sullivan
WAVE 3 Garden Expert

Cladrastis Kentuckea has recently gone through a name change; it used to be called Cladrastis Lutea. It is a very nice native tree. The common name of this medium sized shade tree is American Yellowwood. It gets its common name from its yellow-colored heartwood. It will reach 30-50 feet in height and will spread just as wide.

The bark of the Yellowwood resembles that of the American Beech, it is smooth and thin and a nice gray to light brown color, it will remain quite handsome with age. The growth habit of this tree is broad with a rounded crown and low branches.

The leaves are compound with 5-11 leaflets, the leaves open a bright yellow-green in spring, the summer color is a distinctive bright green, with yellow fall color.

Flowers will appear on this tree in late spring. They hang in panicles that are 8-14 inches long. Each flower is an inch or so long, they are fragrant and white. The tree tends to produce flowers in abundance only every other year or every third year. So this tree may go unnoticed in a park or yard, and then suddenly it will get a lot of attention because those flower clusters are so spectacular.

The Yellowwood prefers well-drained soils, but is tolerant of soils with low or high PH. For the best flowering potential, plant the Yellowwood tree in full sun.

If you have a gardening question for Cindi, you can e-mail her by clicking on her name below. You can also find many helpful garden tips from Cindi by clicking on the highlighted link: Garden Talk.

Online Reporter:  Cindi Sullivan

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway