Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kentucky Coffeetree

Gymnocladus dioicus has huge bipinnately compound leaves that can measure up to 40 inches long. Of course now, there's not a leaf in sight. Gymnocladus means "naked branch." With few twigs and barely visible buds, the tree looks almost dead in winter.

The Kentucky coffeetree has another unmistakable feature: the seed pods. They are stout and hard to break open.

Inside, surrounded by a sticky pulp, there are round seeds that pioneers purportedly roasted and used as a substitute for coffee. (I wouldn't try this at home. Raw seeds are toxic.) The species is dioecious, so pods can only be found on female trees.

The bark is furrowed and rough, and can break into scales resembling those of an alligator's back.

1 comment:

  1. Your winter posts show us differences that we would otherwise overlook — especially on cold, gray days when everything seems the same.