Kentucky Coffee Tree – Toxic Plant of the Week

Kentucky Coffee Tree

Welcome to a new weekly edition of the a-z of plants horses should avoid. Today’s plant is less common than most & really more a tree than a plant. Many places will not have to worry about Kentucky Coffee Trees, but those who know of them should keep their horses away.

A Little About Kentucky Coffee Tree

Gymnocladus dioicus is also called American Coffee Berry, Kentucky Mahogany, Nicker Treet & Stump Tree. This is a tree that can grow up to one hundred feet tall. Branches are either thick & blunt, or slender branchlets which bloom. Bark is ash colored & flakey. Leaves are large, bipinnate & emerge late in the spring. Flowers are green/ white & fruit is a hard shelled bean.

How Dangerous Is It?

While most grazers will remain blissfully unaware this tree exists, the few that graze near them must beware. Parts of the Kentucky Coffee Tree contain an unknown toxin which causes a variety of severe symptoms. This alone means that horse owners should know them when they see them.

The leaves, seeds & pulp of this plant are toxic & can be fatal to equines.


What To Look For

You know your animal the best, so you should know when something is amiss. Kentucky Coffee Tree toxicity symptoms include gastrointestinal upset, depression, lack of coordination, muscle spasms, trembling, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, convulsions & paralysis.

Learn More

Be sure to check out the Kentucky Coffee Tree page to learn more about the plant & while you are at it why not check out more toxic plants?

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

*It should be noted that we’re not veterinarians. This information is written specifically for horses & should be used for reference purposes only. If you think your horse has eaten something toxic call your vet right away.

2 Comments on “Kentucky Coffee Tree – Toxic Plant of the Week

  1. Tony Knight

    The picture of the red flower is misleading as this is not the flower of Gymnocladus dioecia!
    The flowers are typically small, pale yellow and in loose clusters. Have a look at the following website.


  2. C. Nye

    The seed pods, especially the green flesh within surrounding the seeds, can be quite toxic to pets, such as dogs and cats.

    Please pick up the seeds, and keep an eye on all pets in the area.

    Years ago I moved into an 1898 home with a 3 mature Kentucky Coffee Trees in back. We found out the hard way that the seeds are quite toxic to dogs. Upon eating even one small bite, dogs will begin to vomit large amounts of frothy, light green/yellow liquids that projectile from their throats/mouths. This could be quite an issue for small dogs.

    Please be aware and safe.

Comments are closed.