Plant Encyclopedia

Golden Rain Tree

Koelreuteria paniculata

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Golden Rain Tree, short tree with thick branches and green and yellow leaves

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The bright yellow flowers of the Golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) last for several months throughout the summer. Along with the blooms, you will enjoy the fragrant scent that wafts from these trees. The Golden rain tree is also called the “Firecracker Tree” due to its 15-inch panicles of yellow blooms and red centers. This tree is one of the few tree species that features summer flowers with vibrant yellow color.

Plant Attributes

In the spring, the Golden rain tree will develop pinkish or bronze leaf buds. Over the season, the buds will turn purple before developing into a bright green color. These leaves create a soft and feathery look for your landscape. Those deep green colors also provide an excellent backdrop for the yellow flowers. When fall arrives, the leaves produce a brilliant display of orange-yellow color. During the wintertime, the Golden rain tree’s attractive bark will look great against the pure white snow.

This ornamental tree is well-known for its rounded crown and open-branched form that looks similar to an upside-down umbrella. The Golden rain tree requires very little maintenance when planted in the right space. The Golden rain tree is known for its drought tolerance, durability, and beauty. It is also attractive to those honeybees and butterflies. If you want to add pollinators to your space, the Golden rain tree is an excellent choice.

Landscape Use

The Golden rain tree can be used in a variety of ways. With a deep root system, these trees will provide enough cover for those shade-tolerant plants. This versatile tree is the perfect addition to many landscape applications. The Golden rain tree is ideal as an ornamental tree or an accent piece. For those who live near traffic, you might want to plant these trees near your property line. This species can muffle those loud noises, and they will not be affected by urban pollution.

These Golden rain trees are a perfect choice to create a board avenue. However, you will want to plant these trees at least 20 feet apart from the center. Since the root system is non-invasive and deep, you can use them near concrete and pavement without any worries of damage. The tree is so durable that it will adapt to almost all environments.

For those who want a single specimen tree, add this variety to a rock garden or dry creek bed. These Golden rain trees are perfect for vast farmlands, pastures, or homesteads. If you want to increase honey production, these trees would be the ideal addition near beehives.

Planting & Care

The Golden rain tree is known to tolerate urban city environments, and they can adapt to various soil types. This tree thrives in USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9. At maturity, the Golden rain tree will grow to a height of 15 to 25 feet and spread to 15 to 25 feet. This species grows at a medium to fast rate, and you can expect a height increase of 13 to 24 inches per year.

In some cases, these trees are used near commercial businesses and city parks in places that have difficulties establishing trees. The trees need full sunlight throughout the day, and they must be planted in well-draining soil. If you are looking to feed this tree, it needs a slow-releasing fertilizer in the late winter.

This tree requires some pruning to help control the spread and height of the species. When the tree is young, you could prune the branch tips for the first few years. When you do this, you will encourage your tree to create additional branching. If you do decide to prune, it should be done in the fall or late winter.

For those concerned about dropping flowers and seed pods, you might want to think about planting ground cover near the base of the rain tree.

Additional Information

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Golden Rain Tree


This tree will make a great addition to any area, and it creates a year-round show for your landscape. This hardy variety can thrive in most environments, including those urban areas. If you want distinguished golden blooms in the summer, make sure to choose the Golden rain tree.

Arbor Valley Nursery carries many varieties of trees, including the Golden rain tree. We can help you choose the right species that will adapt to your environment and landscape. Please fill out the contact form to find out more about the spectacular Golden rain tree.

Plant Features

  • Watering Needs: Once established, water occasionally; more in extreme heat.
  • Botanical Pronunciation: kol-ru-TEE-ri-a pan-ik-u-LA-ta
  • Plant type: Tree
  • Deciduous/evergreen: Deciduous
  • Growth habit: Spreading
  • Growth rate: Moderate
  • Average landscape size: Moderate growing; reaches 20 to 30 ft. high, 25 to 35 ft. wide.
  • Special features: Easy Care, Fall Color, Tolerates Road Salt, Tolerates Urban Pollution, Waterwise, Year-round Interest
  • Foliage color: Blue-green
  • Blooms: Late Summer
  • Flower color: Yellow
  • Flower attributes: Fragrant, Showy Flowers
  • Garden style: Asian/Zen
  • Companion Plants: Crape Myrtle (Lagertroemia); Variegated Pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira); Lantana (Lantana); Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis); Rock Rose (Cistus); Red-Leaf Plum (Prunus x cistena)

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