Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tuesday's Trees- Koelreuteria bipinnata

*Note- update on the Littleleaf Linden post—Les I still believe you have a Littleleaf.

The Koelreuteria bipinnata (kole-roo-TEER-ee-uh bye-pih-NAY-tuh) is one of three Koelreuteria from Asia and is a small to medium sized tree. The leaves are bipinnate which means that it is a pinnate leave where each leaflet is then pinnate as well. See my very poorly drawn diagram. The leaflets are alternate, a dark green serrated ovate.

The leaves-

Common names for this tree are Bougainvillea Golden Rain Tree or Chinese Flame-tree. It has a spreading shaped growth habit, reaching heights 40- 60 feet. It can also be seen as a multi-stemmed specimen. It is throughout the South, hardy to zones 7- 10 and is a good neighborhood tree.

The yellow flowers appear mid to late summer on terminal panicles and are fragrant. Later two inch long 'Chinese lantern' shaped paper husked seed pods appear. These pods are pink and retain their color after drying. (Some use them in flower arranging) The leaves are yellow in the fall and with the pink lanterns make a very nice addition to the fall landscape.


Close-up of flowers-


This tree is self pollinating and can produce fertile seeds that will germinate. Some areas are looking at this as a possible invasive tree. We have this tree and the Koelreuteria paniculata in the Learning Garden and there are small seedlings in the area of these trees. They are easily pulled. Not sure why, but the paniculata didn't bloom this summer (or I missed it, which is unlikely). The bright yellow flowers are striking against the dark green leaves and this makes it a very nice specimen tree in the landscape.

The pods in the fall- (forgot I had taken photos in the fall last year of this tree)

The tree-

Here are three places with more information about this pretty tree. Henderson State University , University of Florida and North Carolina State .

Sorry about the lateness in posting this ---an old senile dog last night wanted in and out and in and out and in and out….hard to concentrate.
Next week's tree is the Zelkova.


  1. It's a gorgeous tree, love the blooms & the foliage. :)

  2. The name is a mouthful, but it sure is a beauty!

  3. Hi Janet! I love the look more than the name. Thanks for giving its common names. It's a pretty tree, especially when in bloom!

  4. I am so enjoying your tree posts! I like the goldenrain trees. They are very much recommended for planting here and I see them often. I am interested in the zelkova pictures. I recommended one to replace a tree for a client due to its reputation for growing fast but being strong-I think if I remember correctly. The mind is going-too much gardening work lately:)

  5. lovely flowers. The leaves resemble rambutan here... except rambutan leaves a lot greener and look tougher.

  6. It's a beautiful tree...I think it's on the watch list in a few states. I appreciate that precious leaf drawing! gail

  7. I like both of the Koelreuterias, but the bipinnata's seed pods are much more attractive. I am not sure I would recommend the other based on pods alone.

  8. Hi Racquel, thanks, it is a beauty when it is in bloom!

    Hi Nancy, I keep trying to make it roll off my tongue and it just isn't happening!

    Hi Tatyana, In bloom it is grand!

    Hi Tina, I am glad you are enjoying these posts. Not sure how much I am retaining. Will take some more photos of the Zelkova on Thursday.

    Hi Bangchik, yes, these leaves are not very thick but the flowers are lovely.

    Hi Gail, unfortunately it is on the watch list --K. paniculata is on more than K. bipinnata

    Hi Les, I agree I like the bipinnata seed pods. Did you see I added more info on the Lindens?

  9. These tree posts are interesting. I don't know much about many trees and I love learning more about them. I don't know if I've heard of this tree before. The flowers are really pretty.

  10. Hi Catherine, glad you find these interesting. I am trying to learn more about trees and this is certainly helping.

  11. Janet,
    When we lived in Austin our yard had many of these trees. I was CONSTANTLY pulling up seedlings. Thank goodness they were easy to pull up! But every fall I always enjoyed the show. When it bloomed the bees would show up and I would sit on my balcony, which was eye level with the tree tops, and have fun watching them. As much as I miss Austin, I must say that I don't miss pulling up those seedlings!

  12. I've seen a tree with seed pods like that around here, I'll have to take a second look. Thanks for the ongoing tree education.
    I know what you mean with the distraction of a dog wanting in and out and in and out. That happens around here as well.

  13. Hi Jean, we do have a lot of seedlings of the paniculata in the LG, though not so many of the bipinnata. It is a bee magnet. Where in Austin did you live?

    Hi Megan, my pleasure. I am enjoying the tree series...lots to learn, and try to retain.
    I have the oldest dog every evening, barking to go out and in and out -- she is almost 16 and kind of daffy.

  14. Hi Janet, Jean again. Our last house in Austin was in the Travis Heights neighborhood. We lived in a couple of other neighborhoods in South Austin as well but were in T.H. for 13 years.

  15. Hi Jean, I really liked Austin, we lived north of Austin in Killeen and had family in Round Rock. Such a fun city.


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