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Sapindaceae, Koelreuteria paniculata, Golden Rain Tree, Varnish Tree

October 15, 2012

Koelreuteria paniculata is native to East Asia (China and Korea), however I took these photos in Athens, Greece and have seen the tree in Marin County, north of SF in California and just a few weeks ago in Paris. It is a small – medium deciduous tree growing up to 17 m tall. The seedpods caught my eye due to their bubble-like form. Shiny round black seeds are suspended inside. Although not in bloom this time of year, flowers are bright yellow, thus the name Golden Rain tree.

Reportedly the seeds can be roasted and eaten.

K. paniculata is a member of the Sapindaceae family, which includes a wide range of useful tropical and subtropical species, such as as (links to previous posts): Akee (Blighia sapida), Longon (Dimocarpus longan), Pulisan (Nephelium mutabile), Rambutan (N. lappaceum), Guarana (Paullinia cupana), and Spanish lime (Melicoccus bijugatus) … to name a few.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2012 10:08:16 pm

    We’ve got so many of these trees in Vero Beach..in fact I’m looking at the top of one right now on the opposite side of my fence!
    I always thought the common name quite odd! The real showy color is the red/hot pink chinese lantern looking seed pods that come after the flowers!

  2. October 18, 2012 10:08:27 pm

    Not so sure about the “tropical” bit as we have 2 of them growing at our local Polytechnic where we attend fortnightly lectures with our lecturer. They self seed well and I might just check for babies the next time that I am there. I already have one adventitious baby from a few years ago growing well in a pot. You can eat the seed eh? Time to move from “potted plant” to “edible food garden” methinks! 🙂

    • October 18, 2012 10:08:30 pm

      Oh, just for clarification, I wasn’t saying this species was tropical, but the sapindaceae relatives I listed are….

      • October 18, 2012 10:08:41 pm

        Lol…if was tropical it wouldn’t survive long in Launceston ;). I figured as much. I want to get hold of some jujubes and am awaiting some information from interstate to see if I can’t buy some bare rooted. Thats the only way we can import live plant material into Tasmania

  3. Nature and Science permalink
    October 31, 2012 10:08:59 pm

    This one is close to a weed around here these days, sub-tropics of E Australia. A once very popular planting for street and gardens, a bit less so now.
    Never heard about edible seeds before, interesting.

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