Cladrastis Species, American Yellowwood, Kentucky Yellowwood

Cladrastis kentukea

Family: Fabaceae (fab-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Cladrastis (kluh-DRAS-tis) (Info)
Species: kentukea (ken-TUK-ee-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Cladrastis fragrans
Synonym:Cladrastis lutea
Synonym:Cladrastis tinctoria
Synonym:Sophora kentukea
Synonym:Virgilia lutea



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


30-40 ft. (9-12 m)


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Morrilton, Arkansas

Fort Collins, Colorado

Atlanta, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Lisle, Illinois

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

Riverdale, 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

West Chester, Pennsylvania

Signal Mountain, Tennessee

Lindon, Utah

Orem, Utah

Everett, Washington

Cambridge, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 2, 2015, lovetrees13 from Roberts, IL wrote:

I live in central Il just bought a 10 foot yellowwood and planted it now we water it and watch it grow and wait


On May 24, 2015, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

A wonderful, beautiful, medium sized tree with smooth, gray bark, pretty, compound foliage, and handsome white pea-like flowers in May. Grows about 1 to 2 feet/yr and lives about 120 to 160 years in nature. Should be used much more.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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


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... read more


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!


On May 13, 2005, carrieebryan from Midland, WA (Zone 8a) 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.


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.


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.