Earth–Kind® Plant Selector Home
Start a Search

Common Name:

Kentucky Coffee Tree

Scientific Name:

Gymnocladus dioicus

Family Name:

Fabaceae (Leguminosae)


This is a large coarse textured tree native to the Eastern US. This tough tree has large 1 ft to 2 ft long bipinnately compound dark green leaves and interesting platy bark on old trees.

Plant Habit or Use:

Tree, medium tree, large tree



Flower Color:

Dioecious, dull whitish green, fragrant, not ornamental

Blooming Period:


Fruit Characteristics:

Fat stout lima-bean like almost woody 4 inch to 6 inch long pods containing fat button-like hard seeds.


40 ft to 60 ft (90 ft)


40 ft to 60 ft

Earth–Kind® Index:

  • Heat Tolerance: Non-Defined Heat Tolerance
  • Water Requirements: Non-Defined Water Use
  • Soil Requirements: Non-Defined Soil Requirements
  • Pest Tolerance: Non-Defined Pest Resistance
  • Fertility Requirements: Non-Defined Fertility Requirements
Explanation of the Earth–Kind® Index breakdown

Firewise Index

Explanation of the Firewise Index numerical value

USDA Hardiness Zones:

4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Regions that intersect these hardiness zones:
Region A - Panhandle and High Plains Region B - North and Central Texas Region C - Northeast and East Texas Region D - West Texas Region E - Upper Rio Grande Region F - Hill Country and Central Coast Region G - Southeast Texas
Click image for enlarged map of USDA Hardiness Zones

Additional Comments:

Valued for rugged consitution, but trees languish in the heat of USDA zone 8b. Parts of the pods are reportedly poisonous. Can be stark of form to a fault.
Click for Larger View Click for Larger View Click for Larger View Click for Larger View

A Special Note about Cool Season Annuals

Cool season annuals typically are planted in the fall or early winter and flower in early spring under moderate temperatures. This group of plant materials includes: pansies, snapdragons, violas, dianthus, flowering cabbage/kale, etc. Because cool season annuals flower in the spring when conditions are mild, most have limited heat tolerance.

As a result cool season annuals do not receive a high Earth–Kind® index despite their outstanding landscape qualities.