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Kentucky coffeetree seed

Kentucky Coffeetree
Gymnocladus dioicus

Kentucky coffeetree is a unique tree with large, woody pods and very large leaves made up of smaller leaflets. Its common name refers to the use of the pods by early settlers as a coffee substitute. With its bold form, contorted branching, unique bark and decorative clusters of large pods rattling in the wind, Kentucky coffeetree is an exceptional winter ornamental. Leaves emerge in late spring a striking pink-bronze color. As the beautiful, large airy leaves mature they become dark bluish-green above. The light, airy shade (semi-shade) of this tree makes gardening under it possible. This tree’s yellow fall color contrasts nicely with the clusters of dark, maturing pods.

At one time the Kentucky coffeetree was the designated state tree. It occurs throughout Kentucky, but is most common in open woods in the Bluegrass. The common name comes from the seeds being used by pioneers as a coffee substitute. The Kentucky champion tree is in West Liberty in Morgan County and is 90 feet tall. It is one of the largest Kentucky coffeetrees in the USA.

1. Boil enough water to equal at least six times the volume of the seeds. Put the seeds in a non-metallic heat-proof container. Wait 30 seconds after the water is removed from the stove, and pour it over the seeds. Stir with a spoon.
2. Soak the seeds overnight. After 24 hours, discard any floating seeds.
3. Plant any seeds that have begun to swell immediately. Leave any seeds that haven’t swelled in the water.

Planting Seeds
1. Mix equal parts of peat and perlite. Moisten the mix with water.
2. Fill 4-inch pots with the mix. Thump the pot against a hard surface to settle the mix. Add more if necessary.
3. Make a hole 1 to 2 inches deep and one-half inch wide in the middle of the potting mix. Drop a seed in the hole, and cover it with potting mix. Water the pot thoroughly until water comes through the drainage holes.
4. Put pots into a nursery flat, and place them in partial sunlight. Keep the potting mix moist until germination occurs, usually within two to four weeks.