A gorgeous, fast-growing tree which is technically in the pea family, Kentucky Coffeetree produces long panicles of beautiful greenish-white, lightly fragrant flowers (May-June), which, when pollinated on female plants, turn to tough woody pods containing seeds which were used by Native Americans and early settlers, both as a food source and to brew a coffee-like beverage (although the seeds are poisonous prior to roasting). Leaves turn yellow and drop early in the fall, and emerge blue-green to somewhat violet late in the spring. Tolerant of salt, a variety of soil types, and droughts once established, it also has almost no disease or insect pests, giving it a well-earned reputation for toughness. Bumble bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds all visit the flowers. Interestingly, although this tree is now rare and has no modern method of seed distribution, scientists hypothesize that its primary method of seed distribution may have once been American Mastodons or other Ice Age megafauna.
Native Range: ME south to GA, excluding VT, NH, RI, west to TX excluding LA, north to ND. Also native in Canada in southwest ON. Rare in MD, VA, NC, SC, GA, AL, MI, SD, WI and ON.
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