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American Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea)

Item #:
Sold out for the season.
Item #:
Sold out for the season.


Hardy, deciduous, Eastern North American tree
Description: Pendulous clusters of fragrant, white flowers appear in late spring, resembling Wisteria; bright green, pinnately compound foliage and smooth gray bark; foliage turns a mix of soft yellow, gold, and orange; takes around 10 years to reach flowering age
Habit: Medium-sized tree to 50 ft high and wide
Culture: Prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil
Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 through 8
Origin: Southeastern United States
Attributes: Fragrant flowers; Fall color

Cladrastis kentukea is native to the southeastern United States, but is not widespread. Its common name, Yellowwood, describes the color of the wood when the tree is freshly cut. First noted in the wild by botanist and plant explorer André Michaux in 1796, this species was named by his son François Michaux in 1813 as Virgilia lutea. In 1822, botanist and polymath Constantine S. Rafinesque renamed the species Cladrastis and sent seeds to Thomas Jefferson. Writing from Monticello that same year, Jefferson thanked Rafinesque for the seeds, stating “too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for my posterity…”

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