Golden Rain Tree Identification – What Its Flowers, Leaves & Bark Look Like?

Golden rain trees have pinnately compound dark green oval shaped leaves. These fragrant trees also stand out because of their yellow blooms, scale grey-brown barks, and papery seedpods.

Golden Rain Tree Identification

Neha Gupta/Anucha Muphasa/Ricardo Costa/gettyimages


Want to add grace and charm to your landscape throughout the year with rare yellow tree blossoms? Koelreuteria Paniculata or golden rain tree can be the perfect addition to your garden.


Along with the beautiful blooms, you can also enjoy the scented fragrance that wafts from these trees. It can also be the perfect shade tree for your yard.


Though it is native to China, it is grown in many different parts of the world including India, the U.S. and Europe.


Golden Rain Tree identification can be done with its distinctive yellow flower, grey scaly bark, oval-shaped dark green leaves and tan seedpods. Actually, the name Golden rain tree comes from the small yellow blooms which are the most important identifying feature of the tree.


These flowers fall like rain blanketing the ground. With its delicate and graceful branches, adorned with clusters of bright golden flowers, it is no wonder why it has become a beloved tree among gardeners and nature lovers alike.


Besides the stunning looks, the Golden Rain Tree is also tough and adaptable that can thrive in a variety of climates and conditions. It is known for its drought tolerance, durability, and beauty.


The best part about the Golden rain tree is that it requires very little maintenance when planted in the right space. Golden rain trees can tolerate urban stresses such as air and heat pollution.


This attribute makes it excellent as a street tree that can be planted near utility lines and paved surfaces.


Golden Rain Tree Information


Common names Pride of India, the Chinese Flame Tree, the Chinese Lantern Tree, Variegated Dogwood, Firecracker Tree
Scientific name Koelreuteria paniculata


Growing zones Hardiness zones 5-9
Ideal growing conditions Grows well in acidic, alkaline, loamy, sandy, well-drained, wet and clay soils.

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree; it should get at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Blooming season Late spring and summer
Growth rate This tree grows at a medium to fast rate, with height increasing 2 feet per year.


What Does A Golden Rain Tree Look Like – Identifying Features

The Golden Rain tree is also called the ‘Firecracker Tree’ due to its 15-inch branched flowering in yellow color with red center portion.


This is one of the few trees that boast vibrant yellow flowers in summer that are quite easy to spot. The tree is easy to spot with its rounded crown. By the looks of it, the tree also resembles an upside-down umbrella.


Let’s look at the characteristics of the Golden Rain tree in detail:

A. Golden Rain Tree Leaf Identification

Golden Rain Tree Leaf Identification

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The leaves of the Golden rain tree are dark green pinnately compound, divided into several smaller leaflets on either side of a central stem. The leaflets are oval-shaped, with smooth edges and a glossy appearance.
They are typically about 4-8 inches long and 1-3 inches wide. The leaves are deciduous; they turn pale yellow or brown in autumn before they fall.

B. Golden Rain Tree Bark

Golden Rain Tree Bark



When the tree is young, the bark is thin and smooth, but it becomes rougher and more scaly as the tree matures. It is light brown or grey and has a distinctive pattern of horizontal lenticels, which are small, raised pores that allow the tree to exchange gases with the atmosphere.


The bark is resistant to pests and diseases, but it can be damaged by extreme weather conditions. The tree has a shallow root system, so it is important to protect the bark from being damaged by lawnmowers or other mechanical equipment.


The beautiful bark of the Golden rain tree makes it popular as an ornamental tree around the world.


C. Golden Rain Tree Fruit

Golden Rain Tree Fruit



The fruit of the golden rain tree is a papery seedpod about 3-6 inches long and 1-2 inches wide. The seedpods are initially green, but they turn brown or tan as they mature and dry out.
Each seedpod looks like little three-sided lanterns, light yellow to brown and containing hard, black seeds. The seeds are small and oval-shaped, with a shiny, dark brown or black color.
The fruit of the golden rain tree is produced in late summer or early fall, and it persists on the tree for several weeks or months after the seeds have matured. The fruit is not generally considered to be edible, although the seeds may be used as a food source by some animals.

D. Golden Rain Tree Flowers

Golden Rain Tree Flowers



The mildly fragrant flowers of the golden rain tree are one of its most distinctive and attractive features, making Golden Rain Tree identification easy. They increase their ornamental value as golden rain trees are often planted in gardens and public spaces for their beautiful and decorative flowers.


Their flowers are small but are produced in large, showy panicles or clusters that can be up to a foot long. Each flower consists of four to five yellow or golden-yellow petals and a central cluster of stamens.


The flowers are fragrant and they bloom in the summer, usually in June or July. They are followed by decorative seedpods.


E. Golden Rain Tree Seedpods

Golden Rain Tree Seedpods

Udayakumar R/istockphoto


Golden Rain tree has decorative seedpods which are produced in late summer or early fall after the flowers have bloomed. Initially, they are green, but they turn brown or tan as they mature and dry out.


Each seedpod is about 3-6 inches long and 1-2 inches wide, and it has a papery, thin-walled structure. They are divided into several compartments, each of which contains one or more seeds that are surrounded by a thin, papery layer.


The seeds are small and oval-shaped, with a shiny, dark brown or black color. They are quite persistent and often used in dried flower arrangements or other decorative applications because of their attractive, papery texture and their ability to retain their shape and color for an extended period.


F. Golden Rain Tree Height and Spread

Golden Rain Tree Height and Spread



Golden rain tree typically grows to a height of 20-40 feet and a spread of 20-30 feet. When young, the tree has a narrow, upright crown that becomes more rounded and spreads as it matures.


The branches are brittle, so the tree can be prone to breaking or splitting in strong winds or heavy snow. The tree grows best in full sun, but it can tolerate partial shade, especially in hot climates.


The tree is drought-tolerant and adaptable to a wide range of soil types, but it prefers well-draining, slightly acidic soil. The golden rain tree is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5-9, which means that it can withstand winter temperatures as low as -20 to -30 F.


Related: White Pine Tree Identification


Myths & Facts About Golden Rain Tree

Q. Is the golden rain tree poisonous?

Ans. The golden rain tree seed is poisonous. The seeds of the tree contain small amounts of toxins that are not dangerous to humans or pets unless ingested in large quantities.


The tree is however not toxic to touch or when inhaled. But, it is always a good idea to keep it out of reach of young children and pets, who may be tempted to chew on leaves or seeds. Golden rain tree identification plays an important role here.


Q. Do golden rain trees spread and how big do they get?

Ans. The golden rain trees are relatively fast-growing trees that spread moderately to reach a height of 20 to 40 feet and a width of 20 to 30 feet when mature. They have a spreading, rounded crown and multiple trunks.
In some areas, these trees can become invasive and spread aggressively, particularly in warm climates where there is no frost.
So, before planting them it would be a good idea to check with your local administration whether the tree is suitable for your climate and about the precautions to be taken so that it doesn’t become a problem there.

Q. Is Golden Rain tree messy and invasive?

Ans. Golden rain trees are generally not considered to be messy trees. They are deciduous and lose their leaves in the fall, and they do not produce a large amount of fruit or other debris.


However, they do produce attractive, papery seed pods that can accumulate on the ground beneath the tree. But these seed pods are easy to clean up and are not particularly messy.


Golden Rain trees can be invasive in some areas, particularly in warm climates where they are not subjected to frost. They have the potential to spread aggressively through the production of seeds, which are dispersed by wind.


In some areas, it may be necessary to plant the tree in a container or to take other measures to prevent it from spreading.


Q. What are Golden Rain trees good for?

Ans. Golden Rain trees are good for landscaping purposes. They are also amazing at attracting honey bees


Q. What is the lifespan of a golden rain tree?

Ans. Golden Rain Tree has a relatively shorter lifespan of approximately 50 years.