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The Audubon Yellowwood in flower, showing off the white, graceful and fragrant chains of blooms surrounded by green leaves
A map highlighting the locations where the Yellowwood can be found natively growing
The Audubon Yellowwood in flower, showing off the white, graceful and fragrant chains of blooms surrounded by green leaves
A map highlighting the locations where the Yellowwood can be found natively growing

Audubon® Native Yellowwood

Bower & Branch Trees and Plants

Cladrastis lutea

Regular price
Reference Only

Growth Facts

  • Hardiness Zone: 4-8
  • Mature Height: 30-50' tall
  • Mature Width: 40-50' wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Spacing: 40-50' apart

This plant is not available at this time through Bower & Branch. We provide this plant profile for reference only. 

See below for alternative selections for purchase and inspiration!


  • May Benefit & Attract: Bees & Hummingbirds 
  • The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow.
  • This bird-friendly native trees provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
  • All Audubon® branded trees are grown 100% Neonic-free by Bower & Branch, making these plants safer for the birds and safer for the environment.

Why the Audubon® Native Yellowwood?

The All-American Yellowwood is an underused medium to large shade tree that will bring an easy elegance to your landscape whether your garden style is grand and formal or more intimate and naturalistic. Its arching canopy and bright green leaves will create a shady spot below for playing, dining, or just unwinding in summer, and in fall, its foliage will light up your yard with a golden glow. In spring, you may be treated to a show of long chains of fragrant white flowers adorning this stellar specimen tree’s branches. Yellowwood doesn’t bloom every year, but when it does, it’s spectacular. Some think the blossoms smell like Pez candy!

Yellowwood’s botanical name, Cladrastis, means “fragile branch,” indicating that this is perhaps not the best tree for the kids’ tire swing. Its wood is hard, though, and was probably used for gun stock in more than a few Civil War rifles. Its species name, kentukea, is a nod to one of the states to which it is native. In all of those states, however, yellowwood is listed as threatened, endangered, or in some degree of scarcity in the wild. Planting one in your own yard will help ensure that this beautiful species lives on.

How to use in the landscape?

Good ol' American Yellowwood. Why's it called Yellowwood you ask? Because the wood of the tree contains yellow dye which colors the heartwood of the tree. All the crazy stuff we learn just by reading a tag! Anyway, this is one cool tree. The leaves when they first appear are yellowish-green but later turn to bright green in summer and then turn to yellow during fall. And the blooms on this tree are awesome (although Yellowwood only tends to bloom every few years)! Intensely fragrant, white flower clusters covers mature trees in late spring. The flower clusters will remind you of Wisteria blooms. After flowers fade, flat brown seed pods appear and mature in fall. American Yellowwood is one excellent, low maintenance tree that is well suited as a shade tree in your garden!

Why Bower & Branch?

At Bower & Branch, it’s our job to know and grow trees… especially big trees.

- Trusted, Experienced Growers

- Trusted, Knowledgeable Expertise

- Trusted Brand of Quality Trees Across the United States

We do the hard part. Our trees and plants are grown and cared for by only the best, local growers for years before they find their forever home in your landscape. Bower & Branch is known for having hard-to-find, substantial sizes and selection. The quality of our trees and plants are consistent in health and vigor—always ready for immediate impact in your garden and instant curb appeal. We never rush our trees to reach a ‘grade size.’ Our trees are grown for quality height, vigor, health and age.

We believe in empowering homeowners with the truth about strong, healthy and structurally sound plants that are grown to perform in the ground after they leave the nursery for home delivery, always fresh inventory from the grower.

Audubon is devoted to protecting birds and the places they need, while Bower & Branch is devoted to the growth of true native trees and plants–no cultivars or hybrids. Together, we strive to unite communities in conservation and inspire individuals to cultivate a better world for birds starting in their own backyards, balconies, or patios. By guiding and recommending trees and plants truly native and beneficial to your region, we can really start to make a difference.

What is the definition of Native?

“In the United States, a native plant is defined as one that was naturally found in a particular area before European colonization. Native plants are the foundation of a region’s biodiversity, providing essential food sources and shelter for birds, especially those threatened by the changing climate. Since native plants are adapted to local precipitation and soil conditions, they generally require less upkeep, therefore helping the environment and saving you time, water, and money.” – The National Audubon Society

Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program.

Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.

How To Plant

Although native to hot and humid Southeastern and Lower Midwestern states, Yellowwood is surprisingly cold-hardy, and can be grown as far north as Maine. It prefers to have sun for most of the day, but is quite accepting of light shade as well. It is not fussy about soil pH either, so whether you have an acid or an alkaline soil—or even if you don’t know which you have—it really doesn’t matter! Its smooth, slate-gray bark is thin, and should be shielded from string trimmers and overzealous kitties.

How To Water

Be sure to give your Yellowwood regular water while it becomes established; afterwards, it will tolerate dry spells on its own.

How To Fertilize

Incorporate Elements Starter Plant food granular form into the soil when planting. If planting in spring or summer, start fertilizing late fall using Elements Starter Plant food granular form on an annual basis each late fall. Continue this for the first three years to get your plant well established.

How To Prune

One other thing you should know about Yellowwood is that it's a 'bleeder'. Like Birch and Maple, it will ooze sap if you prune it in the winter or spring, so wait until summer to make any cuts. Bleeding doesn't actually harm the tree, but it can look alarming!

Planting Zones

Hardiness Zone: 4-8