Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus)

Family: Bean (Faba­ceae)

Common Names: Coffeetree, American coffee berry, Kentucky mahogony, Stump tree, American coffee bean, American mahogany, Chicot, Chico du Canada, Chicot tree, Coffeebean, Coffeebean-tree, Coffeenut, Coffeetree, Dead tree, Geweihbaum, Mahogany, Mahogany-bean, Nettle-tree, Nicker-tree.

A native of the midwestern United States, the slow-growing Kentucky Coffee Tree reaches 80 feet tall and 50 feet wide in the open. As a member of the Bean Family, it is related to many other representative species, including Honey Locust, Black Locust, and Wisteria, among others. The double compound leaves measure up to 3 feet in length and 2 feet wide.

The wood of Kentucky Coffee Tree is ring porous, resembling ash, honeylocust or oak. The sapwood is narrow and yellowish white, while the heartwood is light red to reddish brown. The wood is hard and durable and very attractive when finished and polished.

The Kentucky Coffee Tree is used in some cabinet making, mostly by local and regional shops.

In appearance, it is similar to Red Oak or Honey Locust. It is available commercially as turning blanks, in specialized plywoods and increasingly as dimensioned lumber from specialty lumber suppliers.

The wood is hard and not easy to machine. Dulls edged tools readily. Holds screws well. Finishes well. It is getting more attention as a fine wood for cabinetry and furniture, but has no widespread commercial availability. More likely to be found as a veneer than dimensioned lumber or plywood.