Considered a rare tree in the wild, the American Yellowwood is native to parts of Illinois. Its’ habitat in Illinois is primarily in the Southern part of the State and is found in woodland areas in river valleys, lower slopes of wooded bluffs and shaded banks near rivers. Luckily for homeowners, the American Yellowwood is also a tree suitable for the home landscape. Characteristics of this tree include clusters of fragrant, pea-shaped, white flowers that appear in late spring and are a showstopper in any yard. It typically has a broad, rounded appearance and can grow 30-50 feet tall. Yellowwood leaves darken as the year progresses, starting off a lighter green or chartreuse color in the spring and a darker green in the summer. In the fall, the dark green leaves give way to yellow leaves, before dropping for the winter. In the winter, the smooth, silver bark adds an additional element of interest in the landscape. Yellowwood prefers a sunny location, but will tolerate some shade. Soil should be well drained and preferably alkaline, however the Yellowwood will accept a more acidic soil. Yellowwood also tolerates soil heavier in clay. The USDA hardiness zones for the Yellowwood are zones 4-8, but the tree would probably require some winter protection in zone 4.
Planting native trees has many advantages to the home landscape. These trees are already adapted to a Midwest climate. Hot, dry summers and cold winters are nothing new for native plants. In addition, native trees are usually less susceptible to disease and insect problems. Although planting native plants has many advantages, it is still important to know the tree characteristics and select a location most suitable for the plant’s full potential. While many native trees are excellent candidates for the home landscape, there are some that are not appropriate. For example, some native trees are prone to insect and disease problems. This is not the case with the Yellowwood. Although disease and insects do not appear to be an issue with this tree, pruning is. Pruning should be done in midsummer only. Spring pruning may cause tree “bleeding” and winter pruning makes the Yellowwood tree more susceptible to branch cracking. While the American Yellowwood may have some eccentricities, its overall durability, versatility and attractiveness make it an excellent choice for many homeowners in the Chicago area.
Questions? Contact KTS today to discuss your tree needs.