In this winter edition of Tree Mail, we like to think about trees to
highlight that deliver interest to the winter landscape. Obviously,
evergreen trees provide color throughout winter, but deciduous trees
with unique branching structure, bark, or fruit can be great features of
the winter landscape. This season's featured species, the Kentucky
coffee tree, beautifully displays seed pods throughout winter. The pods
will be exposed when the tree loses its leaves in the fall, and many
commonly remain on the tree nearly until spring. The coffee brown color
of the seed pods contrast nicely against the blue of a winter sky. I
also notice the bark and form of the Kentucky coffee tree to be a great
attribute of the tree. Overall, the bark is light in color. The texture
appears very course and rugged, much like the irregular branching
pattern typical of the species.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma is
part of the natural range of the Kentucky coffee tree. In fact, we have
found these growing uncultivated along roadways and streams here in
Edmond. There is also a cultivar of the tree that does not produce the
seed pods. If the seed pod production and dropping is a concern, then
opting for the “Espresso” Kentucky coffee tree may be a great option for
you. We have actually planted this cultivar as part of the Foster-A-Tree program!
Plan for the Kentucky coffee tree to mature to around 35’ tall and
about as wide. When shopping for this tree, be sure to ask if you don’t
see it. It may not be commonly stocked, but a full service nursery
should be able to get it for you.