Naked Branches Budding

The branches of Kentucky coffeetrees look dead in winter. No buds. Gnarly indecipherable leaf scars. But they are showing signs of life now.
Gymnocladus dioicus: the binomial tells you a lot of what you want to know. The genus means “naked branch,” referring to the stark lack of twigs. The species name means the tree is dioecious, that is, the male and female flowers are on different trees. This one, judging from the complete lack of the very obvious seed pods on the ground, is a male.

The common name refers to the history of this native North American tree’s seeds being roasted as a coffee substitute. I see one source that says it’s less satisfying than chicory for java junkies.

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