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Goldenrain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)

Also known as golden rain tree.

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Summary

A small-to-medium tree, widely used in landscaping in the US and often establishing in the wild, where it can become invasive.

USDA Plants Profile for Koelreuteria paniculata

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Habitat

In its native habitat in east Asia, this species is found in edge habitats such as along seashores, forest openings, and early-successional stages of woodlands, in areas with a subtropical climate.

In North America, it is primarily established in anthropogenic habitats, including urban parks, small, fragmented urban woodlands, roadsides, and wild, unmaintained margins of yards and gardens.

Its survival and expansion in North America is limited by poor cold tolerance, but it has established in areas as cold as around Boston, Cleveland, and St. Louis, although it is most invasive in warmer regions, including the mid-atlantic south to Louisiana. It has also become invasive in California and areas of the interior mountain West.

Uses

Widely used in landscaping, where it is valued for its attractive flowers and ease of growing in a wide range of conditions, including drought, air pollution, and soil compaction.

However, we recommend against planting it because of its invasive potential; trees seed aggressively, creating a nuisance in a garden setting, and often escaping into the wild as well.

Two other species of the Koelreuteria genus have become established in North America: Koelreuteria bipinnata in the southeast, and Koelreuteria elegans, mostly in Florida but also at scattered sites west to Texas, and separately, around San Diego.

The broader Sapindaceae family, a very large plant family, contains numerous native and introduced plants in North America. However, most of the closest related plants, in the Sapindoideae subfamily, are native to the tropics and do not occur in North America.

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