- Take our Quiz of the Week
Test your knowledge of Wisconsin's rare plant, animals and natural communities. Win a prize!
- Contact information
- For information on Wisconsin's rare plants, contact:
- Kevin Doyle
Kentucky Coffee-tree (Gymnocladus dioicus)
Kentucky Coffee-tree (Gymnocladus dioicus), a State Special Concern plant, is found in rich alluvial or mesic forests. Blooming occurs throughout June; fruiting occurs early July through early September. This species can be identified year-round.
Synonyms: Guilandina dioica
- Distinguishing characteristics: Leaves very large, bipinnately compound with leaflets mostly 1.5 to 4 cm wide; fruit an oblong, flattened pod with large, hard seeds in a sticky pulp; twigs stout and unarmed.
- Flower characteristics: Spike-like flower heads 6 to 20 cm long, open, growing from the end of the branches; flowers numerous, greenish-white, star-shaped, and covered with tiny soft hairs; petals 8 to 10 mm long, oblong or inversely lance-shaped.
- Fruit characteristics: Seed pods oblong, flattened, 8 to 25 cm long and 3 to 5 cm wide; seeds 10 to 15 mm long, bean-shaped, thick and hard, in a sticky pulp when fresh.
- Leaf characteristics: Bipinnately compound leaves grow to nearly 1 m in length (look back to woody twig and bud at base of stout petiole to determine length of leaf), with many pairs of sharply pointed, egg-shaped 3 to 8 cm x 1.5 to 4 cm leaflets.
- Blooming phenology: throughout June
- Fruiting phenology: early July through early September
- Optimum time to identify: all year
- Growth form: Tree
- Vegetative reproduction:
- Life cycle: Perennial
- Comments: Associated Species: Fraxinus pennsylvanica, F. americana, Tilia americana, Acer saccharum, Juglans nigra, Celtis occidentalis, Carya cordiformis, Betula nigra.
Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin
The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Kentucky Coffee-tree (Gymnocladus dioicus). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.
|Federal Status in Wisconsin||none|
|Tracked by NHI||Y|
Habitats and landscapes
The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.
General habitat information
- Habitat description: Found in rich alluvial or mesic forests.
- Soils: Rich, moist soils.
This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Kentucky Coffee-tree. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).
This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Kentucky Coffee-tree. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.
The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.
These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.
- Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
- Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes on or near known populations.
- Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species
- Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
- Although maintaining high overall forest canopy is important, silvicultural techniques which open small gaps in the canopy may be beneficial to this species.
Links to additional Kentucky Coffee-tree information
Other links related to vascular plants (all exit the DNR website)
- Wisconsin Vascular Plants
- Freckmann Herbarium
- Atlas of Wisconsin Prairie and Savanna Flora - Wisconsin State Herbarium
- USDA - NRCS Plants Database
- USGS Midwestern Wetland Flora - field office guide to plant species
- Cofrin Center for Biodiversity Herbarium
- Intermountain Herbarium Grasses of North America
- Orchids of Wisconsin
Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.