Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus)
Kentucky coffeetree's interesting name alludes to the former use of its roasted seeds as a coffee substitute. It is a medium to large-maturing tree with open branching, large blue-green compound leaves, and unique, almost scaly gray-brown bark. A tree for all seasons, it is good for parks and other large, open spaces. This tree produces huge twice-compound leaves with a tropical look. Each leaf can measure up to 3 feet long. The fruits are long woody pods containing a single row of hard, dark-brown inedible seeds that resemble large coffee beans. In winter, this dark-barked tree creates a distinctive form against the barren landscape; in summer, its leaves turn dark bluish-green; and fall brings a lovely yellow. Kentucky coffeetree grows best in full sun in well-drained soil but is also very tolerant of urban conditions.
Illinois native species.