Cladrastis kentuckea (American Yellowwood) with curling leaves
Close-up of Cladrastis kentuckea (American Yellowwood) leaves

Cladrastis kentukea (American Yellowwood)

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Cladrastis kentukea, also called American yellowwood, is a medium to large-size deciduous tree native to much of the American east. Growing to 30-50' tall, though occasionally up to 80' tall, with a spread of 40-50', American yellowwood is named for a yellow dye contained within, that results in the tree's heartwood having a rich yellow hue. Noted for its attractive, fragrant, creamy-white flower panicles in the spring and early summer, Cladrastis kentukea is sure to delight both local wildlife and anyone who catches its sweet aroma on the air. Fragrant flowers and rich pollen deposits are especially attractive to a number of different pollinators, and good branching angles makes the tree desirable to songbirds as a nesting site; bright yellow fall foliage also adds a ton of multi-season interest.

Cladrastis kentukea grows best in loamy, well-drained soils in full sun or partial shade. While American yellowwood prefers moist soils, it is also drought tolerate once established; drought tolerance is, in part, due to a deep taproot that makes the tree difficult to move once established. Cladrastis kentukea is naturally very low maintenance, provides a ton of interest for gardeners and pollinators, and its deep roots means that it works great alongside shade plants planted underneath. American yellowwood works great as a specimen tree, as a shade tree, or as a restoration planting in open forest sites, but care should be taken with planting too close to houses or pipes, as its deep taproot may cause issues with underground structures.

Straight Species and Native to U.S.
Mature Tree Height: Large: over 30 feet
Sun (6+ hours) and Part Shade/Sun (4-6 hours of sun)
Soil Moisture: Medium and Well-drained
Soil Type: Loam, Rich Organic Matter, and Average
Bloom Time: Spring and Summer
Flower Color: White
Foliage Color: Green
Features: Attracts Birds, Attracts Pollinators, Fragrant, and Fall Color
Tolerances: Drought Tolerant and Clay Soil Tolerant
Garden Type: Pollinator Garden, Woodland Garden, Specimen Tree, and Shade Tree

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