What it looks like

Kentucky coffeetree has the largest leaf of any native tree, up to 90 cm long, but it is doubly compound, and leaflets are small and oval. This tree leafs out very late and in fall, the central stalk of the leaf can persist. Twigs are very thick and stout. The fruit is a large, thick brown pod, also persisting into winter.

Where it is found

Kentucky coffeetree is an uncommon tree found in only a few locations in southwestern Ontario, but is increasingly planted as a street tree in urban areas. Native stands are protected by its Threatened status under the Endangered Species Act, 2007.

Wetland drainage and deforestation, as well as the distance between male and female trees to produce seed, is contributing to the decline of Kentucky coffeetree in Ontario.

Planting Tips

  • Size: Up to 25 m tall
  • Moisture: Moist to moderately dry
  • Shade: Prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade
  • Soil: Prefers deep, rich soils

 If you are interested in planting Kentucky coffeetree as part of the Recovery Strategy, contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources Species at Risk biologist.

Did you know?

Early settlers may have roasted the seeds as a coffee substitute but many parts of the tree are toxic if consumed.

Image credits

  • Tree: Sean Fox
  • Leaf: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service
  • Bark: Steven J. Baskauf
  • Fruit: Sean Fox