This is an archived copy of this article, recovered after a server failure in January 2022.

Some links may be broken, and editing is disabled. We are working to bring back full functionality.


Toxic parts

The ripe seed contains hydrocyanic acid. This toxin can be destroyed by thoroughly heating the seed for at least 3 hours at 150°c[1]. The seed contains saponins[2]. Although toxic, these substances are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by heat so a long slow baking can destroy them. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is not advisable to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K].

Edible uses


Seedpod - raw or cooked. The roasted seeds can be eaten like sweet chestnuts[3]. The pulp is sweet[4][5]. A flavour like caramel[2]. The pods are up to 25cm long and 5cm wide[6].

The roasted seed is a caffeine-free coffee substitute[4][7][8][9][10]. A bitter flavour[11]. Thorough roasting for at least 3 hours at 150°c is necessary in order to destroy the poisonous hydrocyanic acid that is found in the seed[1].

Seed - roasted and eaten like a nut[12][10][11]. The seed contains toxic substances, see notes above.

Unknown part


Material uses

The fruit is high in saponins and is used as a soap[13].

The leaves are used as a fly poison[2]. Trees are planted on the spoil tips of mines to stabilize and reclaim the soil[13].

Wood - coarse-grained, heavy though not hard, strong, very durable in contact with the soil, finishes to a fine lustre. A handsome wood, it weighs 43lb per cubic foot and is used for cabinet work, furniture, construction, fencing etc[8][14][5][15][6][16].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The pulverised root bark is used as an effective enema[10][2][3]. A tea made from the bark is diuretic[2]. It is used in the treatment of coughs due to inflamed mucous membranes and also to help speed up a protracted labour[2]. A snuff made from the pulverized root bark has been used to cause sneezing in comatose patients[3].

A tea made from the leaves and pulp from the pods is laxative and has also been used in the treatment of reflex troubles[2].

A decoction of the fresh green pulp of the unripe fruit is used in homeopathic practice[5].

Unknown part


Ecosystem niche/layer

Canopy or Secondary canopy

Ecological Functions

Soil builder

Nitrogen fixer


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe[13]. The seed can also be sown in early spring in a greenhouse[17]. Scarification and pre-soaking the seed for 24 hours in warm water, especially if it has been stored, will improve germination[13]. Make sure the seed has swollen after soaking, soak it again if it has not and, if it still does not swell, try filing away some of the seedcoat but be careful not to damage the embryo. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into fairly deep individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection against the cold for their first couple of winters outdoors Root cuttings 4cm long and 1cm thick in a greenhouse in December[13]. Plant the roots horizontally in pots[17]. Good percentage.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Gymnocladus dioica. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Requires a deep rich soil and a sunny position[18][13]. Tolerates drought, atmospheric pollution, salt and limestone soils[13].

A very cold-hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -30°c[13]. A very ornamental[18] but slow growing tree[7], it rarely flowers in Britain, requiring more summer heat than it usually gets here[7][13]. Trees in the wild seldom live longer than 100 years[6]. The tree has a light canopy so does not cast much shade[13], making it a good tree to use for the top canopy of a woodland garden. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.

Unlike most members of the Leguminosae, his species does not form nodules of nitrogen-producing bacteria on the roots[19].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Gymnocladus dioica. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Gymnocladus dioica.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Gymnocladus dioica
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Salinity
  • Drought
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type


  1. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  2. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
  3. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
  4. ? Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  5. ? Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America. Dover Publications Inc. New York. ISBN 0-486-20278-X (1965-00-00)
  6. ? Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. ISBN 0442238622 (1980-00-00)
  7. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
  8. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  9. ? 9.09.1 Saunders. C. F. Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-23310-3 (1976-00-00)
  10. ? Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
  11. ? Lauriault. J. Identification Guide to the Trees of Canada Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Ontario. ISBN 0889025649 (1989-00-00)
  12. ? 12.012.1 Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237. U.S. Depf of Agriculture. ()
  13. ? 13.0013.0113.0213.0313.0413.0513.0613.0713.0813.0913.1013.11 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  14. ? 14.014.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  15. ? 15.015.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.1 Britton. N. L. Brown. A. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada Dover Publications. New York. ISBN 0-486-22642-5 (1970-00-00)
  17. ? 17.017.1 Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
  18. ? 18.018.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  19. ? Diggs, Jnr. G.M.; Lipscomb. B. L. & O'Kennon. R. J [Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas] Botanical Research Institute, Texas. (1999-00-00)
  20. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-43

Facts about "Gymnocladus dioica"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupYes +
Belongs to familyLeguminosae +
Belongs to genusGymnocladus +
Functions asSoil builder + and Nitrogen fixer +
Has binomial nameGymnocladus dioica +
Has common nameKentucky Coffee Tree +
Has drought toleranceTolerant +
Has edible partUnknown part +, Seed + and Seedpod +
Has edible useCoffee + and Unknown use +
Has environmental toleranceDrought + and Salinity +
Has fertility typeSelf sterile +
Has flowers of typeDioecious +
Has growth rateSlow +
Has hardiness zone4 +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useInsecticide +, Soap + and Wood +
Has mature height20 +
Has mature width15 +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useHomeopathy + and Miscellany +
Has salinity toleranceTolerant +
Has search namegymnocladus dioica + and kentucky coffee tree +
Has shade toleranceNo shade +
Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral +, Alkaline + and Very alkaline +
Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
Has taxonomy nameGymnocladus dioica +
Has water requirementsmoderate +
Inhabits ecosystem nicheCanopy + and Secondary canopy +
Is deciduous or evergreenDeciduous +
Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Gymnocladus dioica +, Gymnocladus dioica +, Gymnocladus dioica +, Gymnocladus dioica +, Gymnocladus dioica +, Gymnocladus dioica +, Gymnocladus dioica + and Gymnocladus dioica +