top of page

Golden Rain Tree

Koelreuteria paniculata

There are three golden rain trees in the Park. It is a flowering deciduous tree. The tiny yellow flowers appear in the spring and are replaced by Chinese dumplng-like pods containing black berry-like seeds. See Wikipedia entry here.
The golden rain tree is a 40-foot tall tree of Asian origin. It is justly popular since it is one of the few yellow-flowered trees. It is doubly interesting because it blooms in summer, when most other trees have only foliage to show.
Golden Rain Tree.jpeg
The golden rain tree in the west triangle is probably as tall as it is going to get. 
The short pitch pine is to the right. Late June photo
There are two more golden rain trees in the Park, one in the east triangle and one in the southeast triangle. All of them have clusters of tiny golden flowers about the size of raindrops, and in late June they cover the ground under the canopy. 
golden raintree se.jpeg
Southeast triangle golden rain tree in late June
Clusters of golden flowers appear in June.
golden rain east.jpeg
East triangle golden rain tree in late June
Botany 101 Bonus
The sugar maple in the northwest triangle sits directly across the path from the golden rain tree in the west triangle. We can easily compare their evolutionary relationships to their physical appearance. First, a refresher to remind us of the terms used to classify organisms. In high school we learned the hierarchical classifications of kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. These terms apply to animals and plants, except, in plants, the term "division" is substituted for "phylum." Since all evolution occurs by one species branching into two, there are many branch points and therefore many subgroup terms like infraorder or superfamily. The clade terminology is becoming more popular as we understand the branch points in more detail. A clade is basically a single branch on the tree of life, or a group of organisms that consists of a common ancestor and all its lineal descendants.

Below is a comparison of the golden rain tree, the sugar maple, and the nearby pitch pine. Those first two trees share the same "grandfather," the family Sapindaceae, and prior ancestry. If you analogize the genus level to parents, both trees have different parents, and there are other siblings of those parents, for example the Acer rubrum or red maple in the west triangle is a "sibling" of the sugar maple. So a sugar maple is more related to a red maple than it is to a golden rain tree, and the sugar maple and golden rain tree are more related to other Sapindaceae than to the pitch pine. In fact, the golden rain tree and the sugar maple are in the division or clade Angiosperms, whereas the pitch pine is in the Division Pinophyta. The pitch pine is much more distantly related, just like people who share a grandfather are more closely related than people who share only a great-great-great-great grandfather. 
golden rain tree classification.png
Classification of the golden rain tree 
sugar maple classif.png
Classification of the sugar maple 
pitch pine classif.png
Classification of the pitch pine
rain tree seed pods.jpeg
Seedpods of golden rain tree.
The pods each contain up to six seeds, which turn from green to black as they mature. Some pods contain fewer than six seeds due to ova being unfertilized.
bottom of page