Street Trees Part 5 – Gymnocladus, Kentucky Coffee Tree, Gleditsia, Honeylocust, and Koelreuteria, Goldenrain Tree

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This week we look at what some very durable choices for street trees. These include Kentucky Coffee Tree, Honeylocust and Golden Rain Tree. The latter two may have been overused for this application in the past several decades but are still good trees when used in combination with other Genus and species to increase diversity.

Gymnocladus dioicus, Kentucky Coffee Tree is a durable street tree, that once established is highly tolerant to adverse growing conditions.


Kentucky Coffeetree 1


Because Kentucky Coffee Tree can produce seed pods which may be perceived as a detriment by homeowners, you may wish to consider using the male clone, Gymnocladus dioicus ‘Expresso JFS’ ™, Expresso Kentucky Coffee Tree which as an oval vase shape upright growing habit and a yellow fall color. This clone produces no pods.


Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis, Thornless Honeylocust has been around for decades.




Improved varieties are thornless and have an upright growth habit. Gleditsia triacathos ‘Skycole’, Skyline Honeylocust makes an excellent street tree with its conical form that broadens with age.




In most years, it has a golden yellow fall color.




Gleditsia triacathos ‘Street Keeper’®, Street Keeper Honeylocust is another great choice for a street tree cultivar as it has a tight, narrow branching habit.


Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis ‘Suncole’, Sunburst Honeylocust has bright yellow new growth that contrasts to green foliage.




Two advantages of Honeylocust are the small compound leaves require no fall leaf clean-up


Gleditsia leaf


and the canopy is a filtered shade that allows turf to thrive by not inhibiting sunlight.




Koelreuteria paniculata, Goldenrain Tree has an excellent growth habit


Koel growth


and provides multi seasonal interest with flowers


Koel flower


fruit which persist into winter,


Koel Fruit


and leaf texture.


Koel leaf


Koelreuteria paniculate ‘JFS Sunleaf’ ™ Summerburst Goldenrain Tree has yellow flowers and yellow fall color. It tolerates heat well.


Koelreuteria paniculate ‘September’, September Goldenrain Tree flowers in late August through September


sept koel tree


and has beautiful yellow flowers that attract pollinators


koel flwr


and have great fall interest.



koel fruit 1


Concerns arise as to whether this tree can become invasive. In warmer climates they can be an invasive problem. This does not seem to be a problem in Northern Ohio but as you move south to warmer zones, check to see if this appears on your invasive lists for your location.


So, consider adding Gymnocladus, Kentucky Coffee Tree, Gleditsia, Honeylocust, and Koelreuteria, Goldenrain Tree and cultivars to your street tree palette.