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Most trees produce seeds, fruits or berries, but hanging pods are among some of the more visually interesting forms. Many pods attract wildlife to the landscape and provide food for birds. When choosing pod-producing trees for your yard, first consider the site's cultural characteristics. Soil type, sun exposure, moisture levels and U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone rating all determine which trees can thrive in your landscape.
Drought-tolerant trees survive with only natural rainfall or irregular irrigation. The desert ironwood (Olneya tesota) thrives in full sun and a range of soils and tolerates drought. Desert ironwoods grow to 35 feet tall and have grey-green, compound foliage. They bloom in summer with purple and pink blossoms and then produce long, hanging green-to-brown pods in summer and fall. The smoke tree (Dalea spinosa) produces bright blue flowers in spring and green-to-brown seed pods in fall. A deciduous tree, the smoke tree grows to 25 feet tall and prefers full sun and dry soil. It tolerates drought and has a dense, low canopy. The smoke tree is hardy to zone 7.
Sites with alkaline soil have a pH level higher than 7.0. The blue paloverde (Cercidium floridum) grows to 35 feet tall and has blue-green, deciduous foliage. This tree is hardy in zones 8 to 9 and prefers full sun and alkaline soil. Blue paloverdes produce showy yellow flowers in spring and summer, followed by long, hanging green and brown pods in fall, winter and summer. The eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) blooms with a profusion of pink and purple spring flowers, followed by long, hanging, green, brown and purple seed pods. This spreading, deciduous tree reaches heights to 25 feet and is hardy in zones 4 to 9. It prefers full sun and tolerates alkaline soil.
Plant shade-tolerant trees in sites that receive less than five hours of direct sunlight or a constant mix of sun and shade per day. The Scotch laburnum (Laburnum alpinum) grows to 35 feet tall with a low, oval canopy. This deciduous tree blooms with showy, yellow flowers in spring and summer, followed by long, hanging green-to-brown seed pods in fall. It has smooth, green bark and is hardy to zone 5. Scotch laburnum trees prefer full sun to partial shade. The common goldenchain tree (Laburnum anagyroides "pendulum") grows to 35 feet tall and has a wide, spreading and weeping canopy. A deciduous tree, the common goldenchain blooms with yellow spring and summer flowers, followed hanging, green-to-brown pods in fall. It prefers partial shade. Goldenchain trees are hardy in zones 6 to 8.
Some pod-producing trees grow well in moist, regularly irrigated soils. The Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus diocius) produces long, hanging green-to-purple seed pods. This deciduous tree grows to 70 feet tall with a 50-foot spread and has an upright, oval to rounded canopy. Hardy in zones 3 to 8, this slow-growing tree prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil. Only female trees produce seed pods. The atlas broom (Cytisus battandieri) blooms in summer with aromatic yellow flowers, followed by large, hanging, green-to-brown seed pods. This deciduous to semi-evergreen tree grows to 20 feet tall and is hardy in zone 6. Atlas broom trees grow well in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
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