Tag Archives: omaha trees

The Kentucky Coffee Tree


The Gymnocladus dioicus, better known as the Kentucky Coffee tree is a tree in the subfamily Caesalpinioideae of the pea family Fabaceae, native to the midwest of North America, primarily in southern Michigan and Ohio as well as southwest to Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The Kentucky coffee tree was the state tree of Kentucky from 1976 to 1994.

These trees vary from 18 to 21 meters (60–75 feet) high with a spread of 12–15 meters (40–50 feet) with a trunk up to one meter (3 feet) in diameter. The Kentucky Coffee is a moderately fast-growing tree. With the healthy trees living from 100 to 150 years, this tree is normally long-lived; however for the first six months of the tree’s growth, they often appear dead. This is due to the Kentucky Coffee tree shedding its leaves early during the fall, appearing bare for up to 6 months. When the leaves are attached, they appear bright pink, but turn green to bronze when aged. The bark is similar to black cherry with it’s ash-gray and scaly texture. A Kentucky Coffee tree bears fruit in a hard-shelled bean that is in heavy pods made from wood that are filled with sweet, gooey pulp that is thick. The shape of the pods varies somewhat: pod length ranges from about 5 to 10 inches (130 to 250 mm); unfertilized female trees may bear miniature seedless pods. The seed pods are too difficult for many animals to chew through, and they are too heavy for either wind or water to disperse them. The beans contain the toxin cytisine, which can interfere with breathing, resulting in death in cases of heavy doses. The plant is toxic to some animals.


The Kentucky Coffee is a great landscaping tree for large lawns and parks. The male trees are generally considered more desirable because of the lack of seedpods. However, mature female trees with hanging seedpods can be very attractive in winter.

In the summer and winter, the ascending branches often form a narrow crown. Oval leaflets form in late spring, changing from pinkish to a dark blue-green. The Kentucky Coffee tree tolerates most conditions including drought and pollution. This tree is best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun. However, avoid heavy clays.

For tips and details on the Kentucky Coffee tree, where to plant it, and if it is too toxic for your environment (animals, children, etc) be sure to check with an Arbor Hills Specialist today.

Star Magnolia shrubs and trees


Magnolia stellata, also known as star magnolia, is a shrub or small tree that is slow-growing and native to Japan. These have large, white or pink fragrant flowers with 12-30 thin petals that bloom early in March. Before these flowers bloom, in late winter, this tree begins to grow groups of fuzzy buds waiting to blossom. The flower, once bloomed, requires shelter from frost and wind, which can discolor the blooms.

Star Magnolias grow anywhere from 10 to 20 feet with an 8 to 15 feet spread with a rounded crown shape for a tree or a large oval to rounded shrub. They are best grown in moist, well-drained organic soil in full sun to partial shade, and are intolerant of most urban pollutants. Star Magnolias require medium maintenance of pruning, which should be done after flowering to avoid ridding the tree of its buds that are set for the next season. They grow best when protected from high winds, and it is best to avoid planting these in southern exposures where the buds may open too early in late winter.

Remaining small and compact for several years, Star magnolia is a great flowering tree for a small yard. These can be incorporated with other trees and shrubs into a planted bed for a great look. Try planting near a dark background such as a brick wall or darker trees to show off the flowers. Star Magnolias are great to plant near your patio or deck, where you can enjoy the flowering scents all season long.

For expert advice and the best opinion on where to put your Star Magnolia, consult an Arbor Hills Trees consultant today.

FAQ: Red Sunset Maple Trees


Red Sunset Maple Trees have proven to be the best cultivars of red maple for the Midwest. ‘Red Sunset’ has strong wood and is a vigorous, fast-grower, reaching a height of 50 feet with a spread of 25 to 35 feet.

This tree is preferred when a fast-growing maple is needed, and will take on a pyramidal or oval silhouette. The newly emerging red flowers and fruits signal that spring has come.

Leaves retain an attractive high gloss throughout the growing season. The seeds of ‘Red Sunset’ red maple are quite popular with squirrels and birds too.

Thinking Ahead – Anticipatory Tree Planting Information



In a recent article in the Daily Nebraskan, Eric Berg of the Nebraska Forest Service noted, “Nebraska has seen significant tree loss over the last few years. Emerald ash borer (EAB) and other pests, diseases and severe weather will result in even more dramatic loss in coming years.”

Berg recommends what he calls “anticipatory planting” – Meaning, planting a tree years, or decades ahead of the removal of a declining tree due to aging or disease proneness.

Homeowners often plant trees to fill a vacant space or for landscaping a new construction home or building. However, if you have a property with several mature trees, the anticipatory planting method may be something you want to consider.  Berg suggests planting a new tree near one that is anticipated to eventually decline.

There are numerous considerations to make when doing this.  Root space is one factor. Sunlight is another. Your replacement tree must tolerate low levels of light if planted too close to the existing trees canopy. Most species of trees require six hours of direct sunlight in the growing season, but some trees can do less, like certain species of Maples.

The Nebraska Forest Service suggests that the best placement for the new tree is at the current tree’s canopy edge to the east, south or west. A northward planting is likely to cause too much shade for the growing replacement tree.

A resource for successful tree planting can be found from ReTree Nebraska or you can put your planting specifics in the hands of a professional such as Arbor Hills Trees and Arbor Hills Landscaping. We’re happy to guide you through the process, help you devise a planting strategy, and implement your planting needs.  Call us for a quote today at 402.895.3635