Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: American Yellowwood, Kentucky Yellowwood
Cladrastis lutea

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cladrastis (kluh-DRAS-tis) (Info)
Species: lutea (LOO-tee-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Cladrastis kentukea

6 vendors have this plant for sale.

7 members have or want this plant for trade.


Unknown - Tell us

30-40 ft. (9-12 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Toxicodendron
Thumbnail #1 of Cladrastis lutea by Toxicodendron

By gonedutch
Thumbnail #2 of Cladrastis lutea by gonedutch

By Equilibrium
Thumbnail #3 of Cladrastis lutea by Equilibrium

By ViburnumValley
Thumbnail #4 of Cladrastis lutea by ViburnumValley

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By mgarr
Thumbnail #6 of Cladrastis lutea by mgarr

By mgarr
Thumbnail #7 of Cladrastis lutea by mgarr

There are a total of 20 photos.
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7 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Feb 25, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Beautiful flowers, foliage, and bark. One of the best of our many beautiful native trees. Rarely troubled by pests or diseases.

This tree often forms poor crotches---the mature trees I see usually have several major branches emerging from a single low crotch. I've seen several mature trees fall apart in this area. Skilled training early in the life of the tree may compensate for this. Also, avoid placing too close to a house.

Beneath mature trees I usually see bare soil to dripline. I infer that this species has thirsty shallow roots like a maple.

Positive AuburnR On Jun 2, 2013, AuburnR from Gaithersburg, MD wrote:

From Gaithersburg MD. I adore this tree. We planted ours in fall 2011. My husband feared we would never see it bloom. It bloomed in spring 2012, and this year was spectacular. Blooms didn't stay too long because of three days of constant strong winds, but it's gorgeous in flower. There is a huge one at Brookside "Gardens in Wheaton, must be at least 60 feet high by 40 feet wide. Wonderful tree!

Positive YVW On Aug 15, 2012, YVW from Atlanta, GA wrote:

I have a beautiful Yellowwood in my back yard. I bought it at the Trees Atlanta annual sale about 5+ years ago and it just bloomed this spring. What a fabulous surprise! Love this tree. I am going to attempt to propagate by seed. So, add Atlanta, GA to a region it thrives in, especially when we get rain. It is in a full sun, low lying, meadow-like environment.

Positive baker2 On May 22, 2011, baker2 from Hinsdale, NH wrote:

This plant survived 3 weeks of not being watered, while in its pot, in the summer, then being stripped by deer the following spring. It is now 5 years old in my garden and doing beautifully - pruned to a lovely shape. I am anxious to see it bloom and smell the fragrance. It is grown on side streets in Keene NH and does well.

Positive watertownbigdog On Jun 9, 2007, watertownbigdog from Watertown, NY wrote:

There is a relatively large one that has been growing on grounds at the New York State Zoo in Watertown. Getting ready to bloom this year

Positive ViburnumValley On Dec 2, 2006, ViburnumValley from Scott County, KY (Zone 5b) wrote:

American yellowwood is an excellent medium-size shade tree for the Ohio River valley and central US. The smooth gray bark is reminiscent of American beech; the arching vase-shaped habit mimics the much larger American elm; the pendulous fragrant white flower clusters could just as well hang from wisteria vines; and the fall colors in golden yellows hinting towards orange just glow in the setting sun. Oh, and it's a native, too.

The former national champion was at Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, OH. The current national champion grows in Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville KY. There are many fine specimens planted around this part of the country as well as locations where one might see yellowwood as part of the indigenous woodlands (Yellowwood State Forest in Indiana; the Palisades of the Kentucky River in KY's Bluegrass region). Anyone who lives with calcareous soils ought to have at least one to enjoy.

Positive gonedutch On Aug 16, 2005, gonedutch from Fairport, NY wrote:

The grower of my pink-flowering Yellowwood had less than a 50 percent survival rate and only two survivors with pink flowers (see image). In my upstate NY garden it has done well in full sun with periodic watering during dry spells. It survived a late-winter cold snap while a nearby Davidea (Dove Tree) did not. I agree with others that any pruning must be done in summer or winter to avoid excessive fluid loss. The pendelous floral display against its green foliage and grey bark is well worth the two year wait!

Neutral carrieebryan On May 13, 2005, carrieebryan from Independence, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

I planted my Cladrastis last October. The new leaves this spring looked dandy until we had some late frosts in April, which damaged or outright killed just about all of them. I had a few scary weeks of watching the leaves turn brown and crispy, but now (mid-May) a new, 2nd set of leaves is starting to bud out.

Neutral mystic On Sep 7, 2002, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Has blooms that look like wisteria that are white with yellow markings.Usually just blooms every other year.

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Easily grown in average, medium wet, well-drained soil in full sun. Prune in summer only because cuts made in winter or spring tend to bleed considerably.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Morrilton, Arkansas
Fort Collins, Colorado
Atlanta, Georgia
Clermont, Kentucky
Frankfort, Kentucky
Georgetown, Kentucky (2 reports)
Hi Hat, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky (3 reports)
Nicholasville, Kentucky (2 reports)
Paris, Kentucky
Smiths Grove, Kentucky
Versailles, Kentucky
Coushatta, Louisiana
Gaithersburg, Maryland
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Grafton, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Thompsonville, Michigan
Ballwin, Missouri
Brunswick, Missouri
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Independence, Missouri
Piedmont, Missouri
Saint Louis, Missouri
Hinsdale, New Hampshire
Fairport, New York
Rochester, New York
Southold, New York
Watertown, New York
Athens, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Glenshaw, Pennsylvania
Schwenksville, Pennsylvania
Signal Mountain, Tennessee
Lindon, Utah
Orem, Utah
Everett, Washington
Cambridge, Wisconsin

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