Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)

Golden Rain Tree

  • Long-Lasting Display of Yellow Blooms
  • Ornamental Chinese Lantern Seed Display
  • Orange-Yellow Fall Color
  • Attractive Bark
  • Tough, Rugged, Easy Care
  • Fast Growing Once Established
  • Tolerates Urban Pollution
  • Muffles Traffic Noise
  • Extremely Drought Tolerant
  • Umbrella Shaped Canopy Looks Tidy and Full
  • One of the Best Honeybee Trees

The amazing bright yellow flowers of the popular landscape tree, Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) last for a month – or more – in summertime. They’ll make you stop and stare. And the heavenly fragrance is out of this world!

Kids love the “Firecracker Tree” with it’s 15-inch long panicles of lovely yellow blooms with red centers. Golden Rain Trees bloom late with a splashy display of intense yellow flowers, one of the few to show this color. Yellow is a rare color for flowering trees.

You’ll love watching the pinkish to bronze leaf buds emerge in spring to almost purple before opening to a bright green. The leaves are made up of 7 to as many as 17 individual leaflets. Our horticulture team calls it a pinnate of bipinnately compound leaves, but you’ll appreciate their soft, feathery look.

The deep blue-green color also really helps those brilliant yellow flowers to pop! In fall, you’ll be glad to know the leaves give a wonderful fall display of orange-yellow color.

This is a spunky, pretty tree that’s always doing something ornamental in the landscape. Once it’s established, it can grow 2 – 3 feet a year in certain parts of the country.

You’ve probably watched Golden Rain Trees in your area develop showy, air-filled papery fruit capsules that look like tiny little Chinese Lanterns dangling from the branches in fall. They’ll start off flushed with salmon pink-orange, and turn light pistachio green, then deepen into chocolate brown.

The Golden Rain Tree has a lovely, Oriental look, with a broadly spreading canopy. Even in winter, you’ll enjoy the pleasing branch structure and attractive bark.

This is an excellent shade tree, known for its rounded crown and well-behaved root system. A medium-sized tree, it features an open-branched form that looks just like a cute, upside-down umbrella once mature.

Give it room to grow into it’s mature spread, or width. This tree is disease and pest free and when planted in the right location requires very little extra upkeep.

We recommend using it in an informal way, with groundcover plants established underneath it. The root system is deep, so it’s easy to grow shade-tolerant smaller plants underneath.

A native of the Northern China and Japan, the Golden Rain Tree is a deciduous tree valued for its tolerance to drought, it’s beauty and durability. And ask any local butterfly or honeybee, it’s prized as a nectar source, too. What a thoughtful ornamental tree to help support local pollinators.

Able to adapt to a wide range of soil types and tolerate harsh city environments, it’s used by urban forestry planners in city parks and commercial businesses where other trees may have difficulties in getting established.

How to Use Golden Rain Tree in the Landscape

There are a lot of things to love about this versatile and lovely tree. It can be used in many landscape applications.

Use one as a small shade tree in your yard planting or 20 feet from the patio. You’ll love the effortless way Golden Rain Tree works as an accent tree.

Live near traffic noise? Use Golden Rain Tree as a beautiful backdrop along your property line. It muffles traffic noise, and isn’t bothered by air pollution.

For a gorgeous broad avenue along your property line, plant multiple trees 20 feet apart on center. You’ll measure from the trunk of one to the trunk of the next.

The root system is deep and non-invasive. It can be used near paving and concrete without damage. It is a great choice for narrow median strips and walkways in informal settings. And this tree is so tough that it is well adapted to the harsh conditions of a parking lot shade tree.

It makes a fantastic single specimen tree in a created dry creek or rock garden. Rugged Golden Rain Tree is wonderful in pastures, homesteads and farms. Plant several near beehives to boost honey production.

Tips for Care

Give this sun-loving tree a planting site where it will receive full sun throughout the day. It is widely adapted, but does prefer well-drained soil.

Apply a slow-release fertilizer in late winter to feed the tree all year.

Golden Rain Tree takes well to pruning to control the height and spread, if needed. The best time to prune is in fall or late winter.

It’s a good idea to lightly prune the tips of the branches for several years while your tree is young. This will help encourage additional branching.

Plant groundcover at the base to reduce any need to clean up from flowers, seed pods and fruit. This is an outstanding showy tree in a natural area.

In certain areas with high humidity, remove seedlings as needed. Nature Hills uses Plant Sentry™, an online system that blocks the sale of plants that work “too well” in certain areas. We follow every federal, state and local regulation to the letter. It’s our job to help protect your local environment from plants that behave invasively in your local climate. Please buy plant material responsibly to avoid costly mistakes.

Golden Rain Tree is a splendid addition to your landscape. Its hardy nature and year-round show make it a valuable addition to any yard. In the dryer climates, this tree is invaluable and a “must-have” for many home and municipal locations.

Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) Details

Common name Golden Rain Tree
Botanical name Koelreuteria paniculata
Hardiness zone 5-9
Growth rate Fast, Medium
Height 30 - 40 ft.
Width 20 - 35 ft.
Sunlight Full Sun
Moisture Low
Soil condition Widely Adaptable
Pollinator-friendly Yes
Flower color Yellow
Leaf color Deciduous