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Cladrastis - Growing Guide
Growing Cladrastis kentukea 'Yellow Wood'
This tree has exceptional yellow autumn colour which starts turning in September and is usually over by mid October. It is very well worth growing as a specimen tree for this attribute alone but it also has pendant panicles of fragrant ‘wisteria-like’ white flowers with yellow markings in June.
Unfortunately after 27 years of spreading growth at Caerhays we have yet to see any sign of a flower although we look expectantly each summer. The reference books describe it as ‘flowering irregularly’ in the UK.
Cladrastis kentukea is fully hardy, grows to around 40ft in maturity with a similar spread. As a slow growing tree the wood is tough and yellow when cut. The leaves are light green and about 12in long. They are composed of seven to nine delicate ovate leaflets which hang down in an attractive manner.
There are other species of cladastis from China which we have yet to attempt. Cladrastis kentukea probably needs a severe drought, like the one we had in Cornwall in 1976, to induce it to flower.