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American Yellowwood

American Yellowwood Tree
The wood of the American yellowwood is indeed yellow. Bark from the yellowwood's roots was used to produce a yellow dye by early settlers to North America, while wood from the trunk was used to make gun stocks. The American yellowwood is in the pea family and produces fragrant flowers in early June, blooming heavily every two to three years. The flowers are proceeded by seedpods that closely resemble those of field peas. There are fewer than a dozen American yellowwood trees in Central Park.

Common Name: American Yellowwood

Scientific Name: Cladastris kentuckea

Origin: Southeastern and central United States

Family: Leguminosae

Size: 50' tall

Form: Wide-spreading crown, typically low branching

Culture: Thrives in full sun; likes moist, fertile, well-drained soils; prune in summer to avoid "bleeding" that occurs in winter and spring


8 - 12" long, alternate arrangement; rows of leaflets; individual leaflets have sub-opposite arrangement; five to nine leaflets (usually seven); smooth edges


8 - 14" hanging clusters, pea-like creamy to white; somewhat fragrant bloom late spring to early summer


2 - 4" long, 1/2" wide; flat brown pod containing small, brown, hard-coated seeds; ripen early fall; persistent


Very smooth, often wrinkled, gray