A medium-sized tree, smooth gray bark, wood yellow. The flowers are white, clustered, May-June, The fruits are pealike pods, formed in Sept - Oct. Cladrastis kentukea, the Kentucky Yellowwood or American Yellowwood (syn. C. lutea, C. tinctoria), is native to the Southeastern United States, with a restricted range from western North Carolina west to eastern Oklahoma, and from southern Missouri and Indiana south to central Alabama. The tree is sometimes called Virgilia.
Cladrastis lutea ( syn. kentukea) is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree typically growing 10–15 metres (33–49 ft) tall, exceptionally to 27 metres (89 ft) tall, with a broad, rounded crown and smooth gray bark. The leaves are compound pinnate, 20-30 cm long, with 5-11 (mostly 7-9) alternately arranged leaflets, each leaflet broad ovate with an acute apex, 6-13 cm long and 3-7 cm broad, with an entire margin and a thinly to densely hairy underside. In the fall, the leaves turn a mix of yellow, gold, and orange.
The flowers are fragrant, white, produced in Wisteria-like racemes 15-30 cm long. Flowering is in early summer (June in its native region), and is variable from year to year, with heavy flowering every second or third year. The fruit is a pod 5-8 cm long, containing 2-6 seeds.