Friday, March 11, 2011

Golden rain trees and golden chain trees

 Golden Rain Tree in early June

Pardon the digression from late winter flowers for a moment, but in recent days the blog has been visited by people looking for the "difference vs golden rain trees and golden chain trees". Why the sudden interest? So I thought I'd help out, putting both trees in one post. I never thought about it before, but see how it could be confusing. Rain, chain, chains of rain...

Happily, I have them growing a block apart, one block away from where I type and think about lunch and dinner (it is the Frenchie's birthday - burger at Prune, malfatti at Al di La, pork buns at Momofuku, steak at home?).

Young seedpods on Golden Rain Tree in late July

Golden rain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata (above), belongs to summer. Tall but not enormous, with a stout trunk and black branches, a very rounded top, and June flowers here in Brooklyn - bright yellow and full of happy bees; orange fall colour in the leaves, pretty seedpods though fall and winter. Hardy from USDA Zones 6-9, with invasive tendencies in warmer climes.

 Golden chain tree in May

The golden chain tree, on the other hand, belongs to spring. Laburnum anagyroides is the species, but the hybrid Laburnum x wateri has longer, scented yellow flower chains.

It is a slender, smaller tree and is sometimes planted in facing rows, bent to the middle and trained to form an arbour, spectacular in bloom. They are best in full sun but the tree pictured here sees only a little eastern sunlight in the morning. Perhaps that is why it leans desperately away from the building, to which it is chained, in case it uproots and escapes in the night. Hardy from Zones 6-8, not leaving you much wiggle room.

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