Forest 104 - Goldenrain Tree

Koelreuteria paniculata

Koelreuteria paniculata flowers. Photo not from the Arboretum Koelreuteria panilculata tree. Photo not from the Arboretum

Other common names

Pride-of-India, China tree, varnish tree; Chinese: Luan Shu.

Origin of the species name

Koelreuteria is named after Joseph Gottlieb Koelreuter (1753-1806), professor of natural history, who named many plant species, at Karlsruhe, Germany 1733-1806; paniculata from Latin referring to the panicles of flowers.

Leaves of Koelreuteria paniculata. Photo not from the Arboretum 



Date planted



Expected to live about 50 years.

Koelreuteria paniculata lantern-like pods. Photo not from the Arboretum, by H Zell

General description

This is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree with a broad, dome-shaped crown and finely-fissured bark. The leaves are pinnate and the leaflets have a deeply serrated margin, turning bronze-to-gold in autumn. The flowers are yellow and grow in large terminal clusters from 20–40 cm long. The fruit is an inflated bladder-like pod. Height 15m Spread 10m.

Natural distribution and habitat

The species is native to eastern Asia, in China and Korea where it grows in various habitats including river courses, open forest areas, rocky mountain slopes, and valleys mainly in well-drained soils from near sea level to 300 m.

Conservation status

It is not classified as a threatened species.

Planting pattern

Outer areas are planted in a diamond grid and three adjoining hexagon shapes occupy the central area. Each hexagon contains three diamond shaped blocks of nine trees.


The berries are roasted and the leaves and young shoots are also edible. The flowers are used for the treatment of eye infections. Dyes are obtained from the flowers and the leaves and the seeds are used as beads. It is also said to be a tree planted over the graves of scholars and important officials.