The golden rain tree (Kolreuteria paniculata) is named after the brilliant golden-yellow flowers that cover the tree’s canopy in July. It is a deciduous shrub or wide bushy tree usually 1. The yellow flowers develop into fruits housed in brown-colored papery capsules reminiscent of Chinese lanterns. Each compound leaves has 7-17 irregularly lobed alternately placed leaflets. Leaves are pinkish bronze to purplish in spring, mature to a bright green in summer and turn yellow in fall. This tree, native to China, and was introduced into the West by the Jesuit priest Pierre d’Incarville in the 18th century. All parts of the plant contain a highly toxic alkaloid and may be fatal if eaten. The Chinese have used the seeds to make necklaces and used the flowers medicinally; named in honor of 18th century German botanist, Joseph Koelreuter
Common name: Golden Rain Tree, Pride of India, China Tree
Scientific Name (family and order): Koelreuteria paniculata Laxm. (Sapindaceae, Sapindales);
Species Origin: East Asia China, Korea.
New Jersey Status: USDA Introduced
Habit: 30 to 40 feet tall with equal width.
Habitat: Zones 5 – 8. Does well in sunny wet sites.
Trunk/Stem: Bark light gray-brown, ridged and furrowed on older trunks.
Leaves: Deciduous, Pinnately Compound, Alternate. Pinnate compound leaves of 45 cm length with pink midrib contrasting to the 7 – 15 rich green leaflets. Leaflet ovate to ovate oblong, coarsely and irregualrly crenate-serate; petiolate. Leaves turn yellow in autumn.
Flowers: Perfect. Terminal panicles, 35 – 45 cm long all over the tree; flowers perfect, four petals,
Fruits and Seeds: Each flower develops into a three-sided dry, dehiscent, papery straw-colored, three valved, bladder-like capsule containing three hard black seeds.