The Golden Rain Tree was introduced to the West from China by a Jesuit missionary, Pierre d’Incarville in 1747. The trees were under cultivation in Jardin du Roi by 1763. The tree reached America by 1809 when Thomas Jefferson germinated seed sent to him by a French friend. It has since become a popular landscape tree world wide.
The Golden Rain Tree is an Asian native, medium-sized deciduous tree. It is a unique tree with purplish colored leaves that change to a deep, dark green as the tree matures. It gets its name from its bright yellow flowers that mimic “golden rain.” What makes this a popular tree is the gorgeous yellow blooms that turn into lantern-like coral seed pods. These seeds do propagte very easily, as you will see sprouts coming up near the tree and in your yard. If you do not want extra rain trees, simply pull it out like a weed at the earliest possible time. The flower and leaves can be used as a dye, as the flowers will produce a yellow dye and the leaves will produce black dye. I do not recommend this but it is said that some of the tree is edible with proper cooking.
The Golden Rain Tree grows 25-40 feet tall and wide. It is adaptable to most soils, but with our clay gumbo soil is does need to be planted in a raised bed because it does need good drainage. It is drought, heat, cold and wind tolerant, so it makes it easy to maintain, even in the harshest weather. It also loves full sun. It is easy to prune if you want to maintain a shape as the branches can become sporadic. It does need to be pruned as a young tree to create a strong branch structure or it may lose its weak-wooded branches in high winds, inviting attacks from pests and disease. This tree would be an excellent addition to a xeriscape yard along with bougainvilleas, succulents and esperanzas.
Botanical name is Koelreuteria, the Chinese Flame Tree & Elegans are in the same family and very similar in growth and blooms.
Exposure: Full sun.
Blooms: Very showy yellow flowers and coral seed pods.
Growth: 20-35′ tall and 25′-40 ‘wide.
Care: Regular watering, good drainage, light pruning