New Forests

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 263–274 | Cite as

Genetic diversity and differentiation of yellowwood [Cladrastis kentukea (Dum.Cours.) Rudd] growing in the wild and in planted populations outside the natural range

  • Nicholas LaBonteEmail author
  • Jadelys Tonos
  • Colleen Hartel
  • Keith E. Woeste


Yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea) grows in small, widely scattered populations in the wild, but is also a popular ornamental tree that thrives when planted in urban areas outside its natural range. Since the small native populations of yellowwood in several states are considered at risk of extirpation, the cultivated population could serve as an ex situ repository of yellowwood genetic diversity that could be used to restore lost local populations of the species. The potential value of cultivated yellowwood for conservation depends on the genetic diversity among cultivated trees compared to natural populations. Using nuclear microsatellite markers, we genotyped 180 yellowwoods from natural populations in Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, and Kentucky, along with 61 trees from urban parks and landscapes in Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri. We found that, even when statistics were adjusted based on population size, the urban “population” had higher genetic diversity than any of the wild populations sampled, indicating that commercially-grown yellowwood is most likely a mixture of genotypes from isolated wild populations. We observed strong genetic differentiation among wild populations, and evidence for inbreeding in at least one of the wild populations.


Ex situ conservation Urban forest Landscape genetics Fabaceae 



The Nature Conservancy provided funding for the work described in this paper. The authors would like to thank Megan Simmons for her help with lab work and genotyping. The authors would also like to thank all those who helped us find sampling sites in Indiana, Kentucky, and Arkansas, and all those who mailed us yellowwood samples from Missouri and Ohio.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas LaBonte
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jadelys Tonos
    • 2
  • Colleen Hartel
    • 3
  • Keith E. Woeste
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Forestry and Natural ResourcesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.BioSciences DepartmentRice UniversityHoustonUSA
  3. 3.The Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural ResourcesColumbusUSA
  4. 4.USDA Forest Service Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center at Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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