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Goldenrain Tree Koelreuteria paniculata

Previously known as:

  • Koelreuteria apiculata
  • Koelreuteria japonica
  • Sapindus paniculata
Phonetic Spelling
keel-roo-TER-ee-uh pan-ick-yoo-LAY-tuh
Description

The golden rain tree is a medium-sized deciduous tree in the Sapindaceae (soapberry) family native to Asia.    It is a great urban flowering tree that tolerates drought, heat, wind, and air pollution and grows 30 to 40 feet tall high and 15 to 35 feet wide.

Plant this soil adaptable tree in full sun. While it tolerates a range of soil types it prefers moist, well-drained soil that is neutral to slightly alkaline.  It has spreading branches but a rounded outline.This tree has a medium to fast growth rate and transplants and self seeds easily.  This tree is mildly resistant to damage by deer, and is realtively pest and disease free.

It flowers at an early age with an display of summer yellow flowers produce a fireworks show of bright color.  When the blooms are finished and the petals drop to the ground resembling a "Golden Rain" blanket, hence the common name. The yellow color is echoed in the feathery compound leaves come fall but it is inconsistent so not particularly showy. The fruit display is very distinctive with three parted dry tan capsules, and these showy fruits are sometimes used in dried arrangements.

Golden rain tree works well planted in a lawn or park or near a patio, though consider the flower and leaf litter if planted near any hardscape. Use it to shade children's garden where the flowers and fruits can be enjoyed. 

Quick ID Hints:

  • 12"-15" long panicle of yellow star-shaped flowers that bloom in mid-summer.
  • Sparsely branched small tree rounded form
  • Fruits are dehiscent, papery, and 3-valved
  • Stems also have prominent, shield-shaped leaf scars. Prominent hairy buds and twigs have orange-brown lenticels
  • Leaves are pinnately compound, 6"-18" long, with 7-15 leaflets
  • Leaflets near the leaf base are deeply lobed

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious problems.  Sometimes suffers from coral spot fungus, root rot, and cankers.  It reseeds easily and can become weedy.  It tends to have brittle wood so can be damaged in storms or during the winter.

VIDEO created by Grant L. Thompson for “Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines for Landscaping” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University.

 

 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Fastigiata'
    Narrow upright 30' tall 6' wide
  • 'September'
    Blooms later August-September but not as cold hardy
'Fastigiata', 'September'
Tags:
#showy flowers#small tree#shade tree#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#weedy#feathery leaves#nectar plant#fall interest#interesting leaves#air pollution tolerant#lawn tree#disease resistant#cpp#wind tolerant#pest resistant#transplant#summer flowers#deer resistant#children's garden#large flowers#playground plant#weak wood#self-seeding#pollinator plant#fantz#parks#dried arrangements#urban conditions tolerant#patio planting#bee friendly#lawn planting#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Fastigiata'
    Narrow upright 30' tall 6' wide
  • 'September'
    Blooms later August-September but not as cold hardy
'Fastigiata', 'September'
Tags:
#showy flowers#small tree#shade tree#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#weedy#feathery leaves#nectar plant#fall interest#interesting leaves#air pollution tolerant#lawn tree#disease resistant#cpp#wind tolerant#pest resistant#transplant#summer flowers#deer resistant#children's garden#large flowers#playground plant#weak wood#self-seeding#pollinator plant#fantz#parks#dried arrangements#urban conditions tolerant#patio planting#bee friendly#lawn planting#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Koelreuteria
    Species:
    paniculata
    Family:
    Sapindaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China to Korea
    Wildlife Value:
    Nectar from the flowers attracts bees.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Shade
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 35 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    1 1/2"-2" long dehiscent, hollow papery 3-valved capsules that look like three-sided balloons or Chinese lanterns changing from yellow to brown and persisting into winter making for a good show. It has hard, pea-sized black seeds inside. The dried capsules work well in flower arrangements.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Large 12"-15" panicles with 1/2" wide yellow, star-shaped flowers with red centers.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Purple/Lavender
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Margin:
    Crenate
    Lobed
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Interesting unusually shaped feathery pinnately or bipinnately compound alternate leaves that are 6"-18" long. There are 7-15 leaflets, each one ovate to ovate-oblong, that grow 1"-4" long. Margins are irregularly creanate-serrate on lobes. Leaflets near the base are deeply lobed, giving the leaf the appearance of being bipinnately compound. Leaves are vivid green above, and the veins underneath can be pubescent. New leaves are pinkish bronze to purple and turn green as they mature. Fall color is variable but golden yellow.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    Light gray brown ridged and furrowed with an irregular texture giving ornamental appeal.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Buds:
    Hairy
    Stem Leaf Scar Shape:
    Heart or shield shaped
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Description:
    Stems are light brown, glabrous, and prominent. They have shield-shaped leaf scars and raised, orange-brown, conspicuous leticels. Buds are large and have tufts of hair at the top.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Patio
    Pool/Hardscape
    Recreational Play Area
    Small Space
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Heat
    Pollution
    Urban Conditions
    Wind
    Problems:
    Weak Wood
    Weedy