Cladrastis kentukea  (Dum. Cours.) Rudd - Yellow-wood


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Cladrastis kentukea - (image 1 of 8)



Family: Fabaceae


Gleason and Cronquist call this C. lutea (Michx. f.) K. Koch.


Rich woods and rocky bluffs.




Scattered in western VA and western NC to southern OH, southern IN, AL, MS, southern MO, AR, and OK. Native mostly south but planted and probably escaped further north.


Medium, multi-stemmed tree to 15 meters. Bark smooth and gray. Leaves alternate, compound with 6-9 leaflets, entire; base of the petiole completely covers the bud. Flowers white, showy, in hanging panicles, pea-like; standard reflexed.  


Flowers May to early June.

Wetland indicator: Upland (?)

The only member of the genus found in the U.S. Five additional species occur in Asia. Seems to flower in alternating years, at least when young. Heartwood is bright yellow and has been used to make a yellow dye.


Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.
The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY


Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region.
Indiana Academy of Science. The Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.


USDA, NRCS. 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (

National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.




 Michael Hough 2004