At 30 feet tall by 15 feet wide, the deciduous golden rain tree makes a beautiful landscape specimen from summer through late fall. Koelreuteria paniculata's ferny medium green foliage casts a dappled shade in the summer before the bright yellow flowers form.
The blooms form in showy 12-15 inch spires which are held above the leaves. They are followed by even showier salmon-colored seed pods which persist through the fall. This is an unusual and striking color in the landscape.
In some years, the leaves will turn a golden yellow before they fall but the golden rain is unreliable in this respect. In the warmest parts of its range, the tree exhibits no fall leaf color to speak of.
In warm climates, the seeds will sprout after the papery pods fall to the ground. This has led to this tree becoming weedy in Florida. The fact that golden rain is so heavily used here may have played a role in this.
If you wish to plant this tree, but don’t want seedlings springing up beneath it, plant it in the lawn. The mower will take care of the seedlings before they become noticeable.
A golden rain tree displaying its fall color in Deltona, Florida.
The tan bark becomes ridged as the tree matures.
Koelreuteria paniculata prefers full sun and well drained soil.
It tolerates drought well but also likes regular water. Heat, wind, and air pollution do not bother it.
It is winter hardy in USDA zones 5-9.
In zone 5, protect young trees during their first winter. Transplant it in spring to give it time to establish before facing cold weather. Established trees are hardy without protection.
Young trees can have a gangly appearance. They become more symmetrical with age. No training is required, the rounded canopy will form naturally.
Insects do not generally bother this tree but it occasionally plays host to Jadera haemotoloma, the red-shouldered bug which feeds on its leaves and stems. Other plants which provide free food and lodging for this pest are the Rose of Sharon and the Chinaberry.
The half inch long black bug has red eyes, shoulders and a red and black abdomen. For all of their feasting, they won’t harm the tree. They may disturb you by their great numbers.
Hundreds of them can congregate around a mature Koelreuteria paniculata. If they wander into your home, they can leave stains on your walls or furnishings. The vacuum cleaner hose will make short work of them.
Rake up the debris beneath the tree to keep them at bay.
The Golden Raintree, Koelreuteria paniculata, is an excellent tree and unrivaled for late yellow flowers. Golden Raintrees are also known as Chinese Flame trees. It is one of the very few yellow flowering trees.