Kentucky Coffeetree is a large tree best suited to parks, golf courses and other large areas. Its bipinnately compound leaf can be up to 36 inches long and 24 inches wide with individual leaflets 1.5 – 3 inches long. Leaves are late to leaf out and fall color is variable, ranging from ineffective to a nice yellow.
Stems are stout and often contorted and bark is rough and scaly and this combination creates winter viewing interest. Trees are primarily dioecious meaning only female trees bear fruit. Fruits are a brown pod 5 – 10 inches long containing hard seeds and a sticky pulp, and can be messy.
The coffeetree name comes from the fact that early settlers used the bean as a substitute for coffee beans. The seeds are poisonous, but it is speculated that roasting removes the toxicity.