Black Locust, Honeylocust, Japanese Pagoda Tree, Yellowwood, Kentucky Coffeetree, Redbud

There are 6 species of legumes in the Yard. All but one (redbud) have compound leaves. All legumes are characterized by having seed pods which hold their fruit. The black locust is characterized by its bark, which has large ridges and deep furrows.

Black locust bark.

A black locust in bloom in early June next to Massachusetts Hall.

The honeylocust is actually the most numerous tree species in the Yard, with 38 trees. Its bark breaks into ridges as it matures. The twigs are also notable because they thicken at each node. The honeylocust is the primary canopy tree in Tercentenary Theatre (The quad bounded by Memorial Church, Sever Hall, University Hall, and Widener Library). This is where graduation is held each June. The honeylocust's compound leaves have the ability to allow a filtered, shimmering light to shine upon the graduates.

A honeylocust in Tercentenary Theatre, with the Memorial Church tower in the background.

Some honeylocust trees produce shoots from the trunk that have thorns.

The Japanese pagoda tree has green granches when they are young. In addition to having compound leaves, it has creamy white flowers which appear in July. Many of these were planted during the relandscaping in the mid-1990s.

Japanese pagoda tree; Thayer Hall in the background

The Japanese pagoda tree blooms in mid to late summer.

The following legume with compound leaves is unique in the Yard because its leaflets are alternate on the leafstalk. The yellowwood also has smooth gray bark, even when mature.

Several yellowwood trees have been planted in Tercentenary Theatre.

A yellowwood tree in bloom.

The Kentucky coffeetree has peeling bark and thick, clubby branches. The twigs are dominated by the large leaf scars from its big compound leaves. In fact, the winter bud is not readily visible on the bare branch. The bud is small and sunken into the branch. Mature Kentucky coffeetrees have large, thick seed pods that persist throughout the winter.

Two Kentucky coffeetrees on the east side of Sever Hall

Kentucky coffeetree seed pods. These trees were planted around 10 years ago, but are already reproductively mature.

A Kentucky coffeetree in the north part of the Yard near the Science Center.

A Kentucky Coffeetree in bloom.

The final legume in Harvard Yard, the redbud, does not have compound leaves. It has large, thin, cordate leaves. It does not become a large tree when mature. It's best known for its flower display in early spring. Small red flowers cover the branches before the leaves emerge.

Two redbud trees in bloom in front of Straus Hall.

A redbud with the Fogg Art Museum across the street.

Virginia Tech Dendrology info - black locust, honeylocust, Japanese pagoda tree, yellowwood, Kentucky coffeetree, redbud


Created by Ryan Lynch

Map template courtesy the Harvard Planning and Allston Initiative

Last updated May 6, 2007