Yellowwood Tree (Cladrastis kentukea)
The fiber of this tree is yellow and the Cherokee would use this as a dye. Also they would use the wood to carve decorations and use as lumber. Another use of this wood was for making bows because it is hard, strong, and close grained. The Yellowwood is found in only small pockets of the Southeast United States. For a native tree it is rarely found in the wild. It is a wonderful tree for any garden but very few nursery propagate this tree.
It grows up to 50 feet tall and 50 feet wide. It takes full sun and makes a great shade tree. Once established you can plant shade loving plants under it because the tree’s roots go very deep. Prune only in the summer because cuts made in the winter can cause excessive tree bleeding. The bark on the tree is smooth, thin, and grey in color. The tree will bloom in May or June after it is about eight years old. The flowers are fragrant and can reach 12 to 16 inches long and six inches wide. The flowers form a seed pod in September. In the fall the leaves turn gold, orange, and yellow.
It was exciting to be given young trees from a local native tree propagator. The Cherokee elders in Tahlequah have been asking for this tree. It is now planted in my garden and this fall it will be planted in the Heritage Garden in Oklahoma.