Koelreuteria paniculata (Golden Rain Tree) is a species of flowering tree native to eastern Asia, including China, Korea, and Japan. It belongs to the family Sapindaceae. The tree is highly valued for its attractive golden-yellow flowers and its ornamental qualities.
Appearance: The Golden Rain Tree is a deciduous tree that typically grows to a height of 30 to 40 feet (9 to 12 meters) and spreads out to form a rounded crown. It has a moderate growth rate. The tree has a smooth gray-brown bark.
Leaves: The tree produces pinnately compound leaves that are typically 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 centimeters) long. Each leaf is composed of 7 to 15 leaflets arranged alternately along the central stem. The leaflets are ovate or elliptical in shape and have serrated edges. The foliage is green during the growing season and turns yellow in the fall, providing a beautiful display of autumn color.
Flowers: One of the most attractive features of the Golden Rain Tree is its showy flowers. Clusters of bright yellow flowers appear in late spring or early summer, typically around June. The blossoms are small and have four petals, forming panicles that are 8 to 14 inches (20 to 35 centimeters) long. The flowers have a mildly fragrant scent and attract bees and butterflies.
Fruit: After flowering, the Golden Rain Tree develops fruit in the form of papery, bladder-like capsules. These capsules are initially green but gradually turn brown as they mature. Inside each capsule, there are three chambers containing seeds. As the capsules dry, they split open, revealing the seeds. The seed capsules somewhat resemble small Chinese lanterns and persist on the tree through the winter.
Cultural significance and uses: The Golden Rain Tree is widely planted as an ornamental tree in parks, gardens, and along streets due to its attractive foliage, flowers, and fruit. It is known for its tolerance to urban conditions and its ability to adapt to various soil types. The tree prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
Caution: While the seeds and fruit capsules of the Golden Rain Tree are visually appealing, they are poisonous if ingested. It is important to prevent children and pets from consuming them.
Overall, Koelreuteria paniculata, or the Golden Rain Tree, is a beautiful flowering tree that adds ornamental value to landscapes, particularly during the summer months when it is in bloom. Its distinctive yellow flowers, attractive foliage, and interesting seed capsules make it a popular choice for gardeners and tree enthusiasts.