Remarkable Trees of Virginia: State Champion Yellowwood

Last week we decided to visit a couple of local to us remarkable trees.  We started at Historic Kenmore, home of the Virginia state champion yellowwood tree.
Despite having lived in the area for over eight years, we for some reason had never visited Kenmore (George Washington’s sister’s home) before.  There is no charge to explore the grounds, but if you want to tour the home and small museum you must pay.
The grounds are beautiful, and many of the trees and shrubs are labeled making it a great place to learn some new species.  The kids were thrilled with all the great big oaks on the property.
They were especially impressed with this Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata.)
It’s huge!
But this is the tree we were there to see, a rare yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea) that happens to be the state champion.
This yellowwood tree is lovely I am sure any time of year, but I would like to go back for a visit when it is flowering.  The fragrant white flowers resemble wisteria.
Yellowwoods only bloom profusely at 2 to 4 year intervals so it is nearly impossible to predict when a good blooming year will be.
Based on all the seed pods on the tree, this was probably a good year!  Too bad we missed it.
One last thing I read in the Remarkable Trees of Virginia book is that the yellowwood is a source of yellow dye, which was “probably the source of many a yellow stripe in a piece of old-time homespun.”
When we arrived at our second tree for the day, The Brompton Oak, there were private property signs forcing us to look at the tree from the sidewalk only.  The president of the University of Mary Washington lives in the Brompton House on whose grounds the tree resides, so I guess we will try to get permission because we need a picture!  It is possible that I would have had my kids race up for a quick shot, but there were sprinklers going which helped me to make the responsible choice of asking first.  Hopefully we will get permission!

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