Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea)


The yellowwood displays very large drooping clusters of creamy white to pink, intensely fragrant flowers during the spring. The tree's leaves are pea-green and are teardrop shaped. Its bark is smooth and gray. This tree attracts bees.

Family: Fabaceae (Pea)

Characteristics: New leaves are covered in silky hairs which are lost after the leaf matures. Mature leaves are ovate, odd-pinnate compound (leaflets attached in pairs along stem with one on top), and pea-green. In the fall, leaves turn yellow. Fragrant and creamy white flowers occur in 8-14 inch long, drooping panicles (loose branching clusters). These flowers are followed by 2-4 inch long light brown pods. Bark is smooth and gray, similar to beech bark in appearance. This is a low branching tree with a broad and rounded shape. It grows 30-50 feet high and 40-55 feet wide.

Foliage: Deciduous (leaves lost seasonally)

Geographic Origin: United States: North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee (non-native)

Cultivation Notes:  Requires low maintenance. Does best in full sun, but can also tolerate part shade. Prefers moist and well-drained soils. This tree is very susceptible to ice damage. It should be planted in an area protected from strong wind.

Number on Campus: 2

Sources: Dirr, Morton Arboretum, Missouri Botanical Garden