The Q&A Archives: Flowering Rain trees

Question: My husband bought me and planted two rain trees(they may be chain trees??) How do I tell the difference? There are no flowers as yet and can you tell me when either may bloom?

Thank you!

Answer: Although the terms golden rain and golden chair are sometimes used interchangably, there is a difference. Golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) is a fast-growing, deciduous tree reaching about 30' in height. At maturity, it has a rounded crown, with a spread equal to or greater than the height. It has compound leaves that give it an overall lacy appearance. The leaves turn yellow before falling. The bark is light gray-brown and becomes furrowed with age. Golden rain tree is perhaps most striking in the fall with its large clusters of showy yellow flowers. These are followed by 2" red-purple seed pods, which are equally dramatic. The fruit is a papery three-compartment, bladder-like structure full of seeds.

The Golden Chain Tree (Laburmum vossi) is a low growing all season tree with unusual decorative green bark. In May its long clusters of pure, golden yellow flowers often reach 18" in length with as many as 8 clusters on a twig. Golden Chain Trees do well in either partial shade or full sun, reaching 15 - 20' at maturity.

You may not know for sure which tree you have until it blooms - usually by 3 years of age if planted in full sunshine. Whichever you have, enjoy!

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