Forest cultivation: Deer tree

Forest cultivation: Deer tree

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Classification, origin and diffusion

Division: Spermatophyta
Subdivision: Angiospermae
Class: Dicotyledones
Family: Fabaceae

The deer tree is a plant native to the northeastern sector of North America. Introduced in Europe in the nineteenth century, it is present in parks and botanical gardens.

Deer tree - Gymnocladus dioica (L.) Koch (photo

Deer tree - Gymnocladus dioica (L.) Koch

General characteristics

Size and bearing
It can exceed 30 meters in height, with a large crown, also developed vertically; the straight or sinuous trunk, sometimes polyconic, is covered with a gray, wrinkled, furrowed rind, which is scaled into sub-rectangular plates.
The leaves (up to 70 cm long) are deciduous, alternate, bipinnate, composed of 4 cm long ovate-sharp segments.
Reproductive structures
Dioecious species, although bisexual flowers may also be present. The flowers are gathered in racemes, elongated in the female trees and globular in the male ones. The fragrant flowers have an elongated and tubular corolla.
The fruit is a samara, an indehiscent legume, bluish-black when ripe and up to about 25 cm long. The mesocarp has a brownish pulp and the seeds are large, lenticular and brown.


The main use is as an ornamental essence. The wood is hard and resistant but difficult to work. It is also known as Kentucky Coffee Tree because it is said that indigenous peoples obtained a kind of coffee from roasted seeds.

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