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Kentucky Coffeetrees along Jaguar Lane criticized

Unhappy resident presents seed pods to board

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – A resident who lives along Jaguar Lane let the Howard village board know in no uncertain terms Monday, June 11, that she doesn’t care for Kentucky Coffeetrees with their seed pods in her neighborhood.

Patricia Gegere provided board members a clear bag containing the seed pods and also held one with a work glove as she spoke at the podium during the meeting’s public appearances.

“These (seed pods) are as hard as rock,” Gegere said. “They are from Kentucky Coffeetrees that have been planted on Jaguar Lane and they’re budding, they’re getting worse every year.”

Gegere said she came before the village board “to represent the neighbors and my many friends on Jaguar Lane.”

“I have pictures of hundreds of these (seed pods) falling under the tree,” she said. “People have to remove them, otherwise their power equipment will be completely destroyed. Once these are opened, there’s a sticky glue, very comparable to a banana, a very ripened banana, and it will get into the carburetors and mess (up) any power equipment.”

Gegere said a neighbor of hers, whose property she won’t touch because of the seed pods, had his lawn mower stop dead.

“The neighbors are very tired of this,” she said. “I’ve had to avoid these in the street….”

Gegere said she took exception when the village’s superintendent of parks/forestry and golf, Mike Harris, informed her there are plans to plant Kentucky Coffeetrees in new neighborhoods.

“I will make it a point to make sure that people are aware of the Kentucky Coffeetree,” she said. “These are a menace, they’re a mess and my neighborhood is so angry, and the people on Alfa Romeo won’t even walk on Jaguar Lane because of these pods. They’re terrible. They’re poisonous. I’m surprised someone hasn’t filed a lawsuit, because if these get into a lawn mower, and they shoot, they become a bullet.”

Gegere ended her remarks by asking the board to encourage Harris not to plant any more Kentucky Coffeetrees.

“You place these onto your property and see how much you like these,” she said. “They’re terrible.”

Village President Burt McIntyre, who noted this wasn’t the first time he heard about there being an issue with Kentucky Coffeetrees in Howard, asked village staff, by the next board meeting on June 25, to provide a report to the board about what the trees are and why they are being planted in Howard.

Arbor Day Tree Guide

The Arbor Day Foundation’s online Tree Guide gives the Kentucky Coffeetree positive reviews, such as describing it as drought-resistant, tolerant of pollution and adaptable to a variety of soils.

“With its reputation as a tough species, the Kentucky Coffeetree is an excellent choice for parks, golf courses and other large areas,” states the Tree Guide. “It is also widely used as an ornamental or street tree.”

However, that same guide gives mixed reviews for the seed pods as they relate to wildlife value, noting there is disagreement on which parts of the seed pods are edible and the “seed pulp is reportedly toxic to cattle.”

According to the Tree Guide, the Kentucky Coffeetree got its name because early Kentucky settlers noticed the resemblance of its seeds to coffee beans.

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