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TREES & plants

Golden rain tree

Golden rain tree in full flower.

Golden rain tree is known for its sprays of yellow flowers in summer.  The flowers are followed by fruit that are air-filled capsules resembling Japanese lanterns.  These fruit change from green to yellow to a fleshy, almost pink color.  Because it readily self-sows, it has become a problem in some locations.

Botanical name: 
Koelreuteria paniculata
All Common Names: 
Golden rain tree, panicled goledn rain tree, varnish tree, pride of India
Family (English): 
Soapberry
Family (Botanic): 
Sapindaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • Non-native
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen, 
  • Shade tree
Size Range: 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Yellow
Shape or Form: 
  • Round
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate, 
  • Fast
More Information: 

Size and Form

30-40 feet high and wide, but may not reach its full potential in zone 5; rounded form.

Tree & Plant Care

This tree tolerates a wide range of conditions including drought and alkaline soils.
In zone 5, the tree may struggle with hard winter conditions.
Because the tree readily self-sows, weed seedlings can be a problem.

Disease, pests, and problems

Canker diseases and leaf spots are possible.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to China, Japan and Korea; often found in dry, rocky sites.

Bark color and texture 

Bark is light gray in color and shallowly ridge and furrowed.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Leaves are alternate and may be pinnately compound or even bipinnately compound.  Leaflets are irregularly dissected and often deeply lobed near the base.
Fall color is yellow, but not consistent from year to year.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Numerous small, bright yellow flowers on 12 inch tall upright clusters.
Flowering occurs in mid-summer.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Fruits air-filled capsules resembling Japanese lanterns.  These fruit change from green to yellow to a fleshy, almost pink color.
They contain hard black seeds.

 

 

Koelreuteria paniculata or Golden rain tree