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 through 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.


  1. Happy birthday, Vince! Hope you guys have a fabulous evening.

  2. And to further confuse ...Cassia fistula is called,here in Australia, Golden Showers.A client once insisted on "Golden Storms" and I spent hours paging through books for this

  3. Happy birthday to Vince and every good wish for the future.

  4. Happy birthday to Vince -we share the fish. And by all means a burger and a steak. I am on a diet (really)and would live well vicariously if you ate them all.

  5. Happy Birthday to the tall Frenchie.

    Whatever you eat may it be delicious.

    xo Jane

  6. Lol, thanks everybody! It was indeed absolutely de-li-cious!!! (Hint: best cook in the world + steak + peppercorn sauce)

  7. Marie, you have inspired me to do a dense, small garden on my back porch. While I live in the country and have a lot of land I could plant in, the last garden I did was almost entirely eaten by deer and other annimals. All I have to worry about on the back porch are rabbits and squirrels. Your website is delicious and very pretty and full of inspiration. I hope it continues to give me the inspiration I need. I'm recovering from some very serious cancer and side effects, and looking to "do something" instead of sit around watching television
    Thank you.

  8. Dankie arcadia - die beste stuk vleis ooit. New York Strip, well aged :-)

    MIT - that cassia bloom looks remarkably like laburnum!

    Hi Heather - I am so glad you are thinking of a garden on your porch, and thank you for letting me know why you are thinking of one. Gardens have always helped me in difficult times - though I don't think my times have ever been as difficult as yours might be right now; but gardening is a tangible, practical, evolving diversion into which one can pour as little or as much as one pleases. Please stay in touch and ask any questions, if you have them..

  9. Martha Grimes, writer of British mysteries, talks of Laburnum / Golden Chain tree. I live in southwest Louisiana where Golden Rain trees are common. Thanks for clarifying.

  10. My husband found 3-sided green pod that is about 2" long. In the fall, the pods turn orange. Making it look like a "lantern tree" so maybe it is from the golden chain tree. What pods have you seen?
    -- Annabelle

  11. Hello, appreciate your article! I live in the NW (Western WA) & have a huge Golden Chain Tree (20 years old). It is the largest of these two types & bigger root system. It's stunning right around Graduation here; we have delayed Spring & Summer. Very fragrant flowers and the bees are crazy for it. Does NOT have lantern pods & can take colder climate. Needs more space. The Golden Rain Tree is the smaller of the two, has the lantern pods & a more contained root system. Here is a link for a quick description of Golden Chain Tree that I found:
    Note: We have very strong winds here (considered hurricane force in other areas of country) & have had no damage to our Golden Chain Tree. My only issue is that the dried chains have toxic seeds; clean up right away & be aware for children & pets. We have both & it has never been a problem. I trim off what I can reach & clean up the rest right away when they fall. It's over my lawn, so can use a mower with bag to make it easier. Just love this tree. Flowers are so bright that when you look at it, it looks a bit blurry.:)

    1. Thanks. Lovely that you have a golden chain tree. All that info is in my post but I disagree about the sizes as well as the root system...


Comments on posts older than 48 hours are moderated (for spam control) . Yours will be seen! Unless you are a troll. Serial trollers are banned.