Trees and Shrubs forum: KY Coffee Tree seeds

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Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
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gasrocks
Jul 15, 2017 12:59 PM CST
I have never seen this before. All on one tree. I have a total of about 15 trees. Tell me all you can about telling when they are ripe and how to pick them please. Gene
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Name: John
Scott County, KY (Zone 5b)
You can't have too many viburnums..
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ViburnumValley
Jul 16, 2017 4:01 PM CST
Hi Gene (ha! bet you get THAT a lot):

I think you can find definitive information about ripeness on line, or in a text like Seeds of Woody Plants in North America (which everyone should have on their shelves).

If you didn't already know it, Gymnocladus dioicus is dioecious - male flowers and female flowers are on separate trees. Your observation of maturing seed pods tells you that you have at least one female tree that has flowered and been fertilized - out of your fifteen trees. Note to yourself: watch for flowering next year, and learn the difference in the form/appearance of the females versus male flower structures.

The seed pods (properly called a tardily dehiscent flat thick woody legume) ripen in September/October. They can hang on the tree all winter.

I would say you could collect them any time after the leaves drop, if you can reach them. Otherwise, pick the pods up off the ground when they drop. You'll have to break the pods open to get the very hard seeds out. The pods will have a gummy substance on the inside - supposedly sweet, according to Mike Dirr.

The seed needs to be scarified in order for proper germination to take place. There are various ways to do this, but the simplest is with a file or a grinder. A great class on understanding what imbibition means can be done with Kentucky Coffeetree seeds. You won't believe how much something can swell till you try it yourself.

What else do you want to know? If you acquire the text mentioned above, pretty soon you won't need us - and you'll be immersed its wonderful pages anyway...


Young tree at local cemetery:
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Older tree at the Morton Arboretum, Lisle IL:
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Open seed pod:
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Glorious tree at the Arnold Arboretum, Boston MA:
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John
Name: Gene Staver
Portage WI 53901 (Zone 5a)
Herbs Annuals Hummingbirder Butterflies Garden Photography Cactus and Succulents
Birds Cat Lover Houseplants Garden Sages
Image
gasrocks
Jul 17, 2017 7:05 AM CST
Thanks for all the info. It is one of my favorite trees. Has a unique look in the winter. Gene

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