Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Plant of the Week: Kentucky Yellowwood, Cladrastris kentukea

Now that fall is winding down it is the perfect time to begin planting trees in the landscape.  The really good thing is, at this time of the year, nurseries are having tremendous sales on trees so they do not have to carry them over during the winter months.  What this means is that you might not find the common species like red or sugar maples that everyone seems to plant, but you can find some unique species like the Kentucky Yellowwood.  I will never forget the first time I saw this growing in the wild near the boat landing at Shakertown at the base of the palisades.  It was in full flower and fragrant, oh my, what a sweet smell.  The long, white, wisteria like clusters of flowers in late spring is something to behold.  Typical legume or pea like flowers in a cluster that can reach 1 to 2' in length. While it takes this species about 10 years to begin flowering, and it is slow growing, once it does begin flowering it produces a bummer crop every two to four years with lesser periods of flowering in between time.  While spring is the obvious showy time, check out this brilliant yellow foliage in the fall!  I also like the smooth bark which contrasts so nicely with either the flowering or fall color periods during the year.  This is a species that is pretty uncommon in the wild, and equally as uncommon in people's yards and landscapes.  The native range is mostly Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, and North Carolina. I assume it isn't used in the landscape so much because it is slow growing and the one drawback is that the trunk can divide close to the ground.  It can be trained, when young to develop a longer trunk, but only prune this species in fall or early winter because it bleeds profusely when pruned at other times. The best place to grow this species is in the full sun, where it does best, with well drained calcareous soils although it will also grow in part sun, just not as fast and will not flower as profusely.  Yellowwood reaches a height of about 30' at maturity and has a nice wide spread making it a wonderful mid-sized landscape tree. This species has a long taproot so digging and transplanting from the wild is not recommended. The species gets its name from the brilliant yellow wood that is very hard and used for specialty furniture and gunstocks.

1 comment:

  1. At the moment we are considering yellow wood for the neighborhood medians off Richmond Rd...hoping all will agree to plant this lovely tree in several places. There are two that I planted in the schoolyard across from my house and I adore them. They did not bloom this year but the fall color is splendid.