Content Detail

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. The fruit changes from green to yellow and then to a fleshy, almost pink color. It has become a problem in some locations because it readily self-sows.

  • Family (English) Soapberry
  • Family (botanic) Sapindaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium tree (25-40 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Yellow
  • Shape or form Round
  • Growth rate Fast, Moderate

Size and Form:

Golden rain tree grows 30-40 feet high and wide with a rounded form, but may not reach its full potential in zone 5.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to China, Japan and Korea; often found in dry, rocky sites.

Bark color and texture:

Golden rain tree 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 bi-pinnately 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 size and shape:

It has numerous small, bright yellow flowers on 12 inch tall upright clusters in mid-summer.

Fruit, cone, nut and seed descriptions:

Fruit air-filled capsules resembling Japanese lanterns. The fruit changes from green to yellow then to a fleshy, almost pink color. They contain hard black seeds.

Plant care:

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

List of pests and diseases:

Canker diseases and leaf spots are possible.

September golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata ‘September’):

This cultivar flowers later than the species, late August into early September.

Summerburst® golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata ‘JFS-Sunleaf’):

A cultivar that is more tolerant of summer heat. The foliage is glossier and darker green than that of the species.

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