Mostlt in eastern North America, but planted elsewhere as an ornamental tree
Kentucky coffee tree - Gymnocladus dioica
A water soluble, heat labile toxin or group of toxins are present in the leaves andseeds. A group of complex glycosides called gymnocladosapponins may be responsible for the toxicity associated with consumption of the uncooked seeds or leaves. The cooked seeds were at one time tried as a coffee substitute. Poisoning of livestock has been associated with animals drinking water into which the Gymnocadus seeds had fallen. The toxins appear to have gastrointestinal irritation and narcotic effects.
Native to North America and east Asia, the 4 Gymnocladus species are slow growing trees attaining heights of 70 feet. The Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus), the North American representative of the genus, is indigenous to eastern North America, but has been planted in many other areas as an ornamental tree.
Deciduous, branching trees with large (2-3 feet in length), twice pinnately compound leaves, with pairs of ovate leaflets 4-7 per pinna. Terminal leaflets are absent. The inflorescence is a terminal raceme or panicle. Flowers are small, star-shaped, whitish,and fragrant; the male and female flowers being prodiced on separate plants. The female trees produce 4-8 inch long, brown leguminous pods with 5-8 hard-coated, olive-brown seeds.
Excessive salivation, colic and diarrhea
Treatment when necessary should be directed at relief of colic and diarrhea.
Gymnocladus dioica leaf
Gymnocladus dioica green pods
Gymnocladus dioica pods and seeds