American yellowwood, is a medium-sized, deciduous tree of the legume family that typically grows 30-50’ tall with upright branching and a broad, rounded crown. It is noted for its pinnately compound foliage, panicles of fragrant white spring flowers, autumn seed pods and yellow fall color. Pinnately compound leaves (usually with 7-11 leaflets) open as yellowish green, turn bright green in summer and then turn yellow in fall. Intensely fragrant, wisteria-like, pink flowers in large, drooping, terminal panicles (10-15” long) will cover a mature tree in late spring. Profuse bloom may occur only once every 2 or 3 years however. New trees may not bloom for the first 8-10 years. Bloom is similar in appearance to that of black locust (Robinia). Flowers give way to flat seed pods (2.5-4” long) that mature in September-October. It is an excellent small tree for residential lawns, particularly on smaller properties. Also may be planted near patios and terraces. It may be effectively grouped on larger properties. Roots go deep, so other plants may be easily grown underneath. The name yellowwood derives from its yellow heartwood, used in small amounts for specialist furniture, gunstocks and decorative woodturning. Kentucky yellowwood is recommended as one of the best medium-sized trees for cultivation as an ornamental plant in gardens.
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