The tree pictured here is a beautiful ornamental shade tree called the Goldenrain Tree. It is also sometimes known as the “China Tree” or the “Varnish Tree”. The technical name of this tree is the impossible to pronounce Koelreuteria paniculata. They are originally native to China and Korea, although in our area, these trees are relatively uncommon because they don’t tolerate the cold weather of our northern winters very well. However, the gardeners at Lakeside Park have done an excellent job of maintaining these specimens (located next to the reflecting pond), and you can visit these trees year-round.
Jeff, our resident arborist, spent one afternoon in June teaching his grandchildren about this beautiful tree. You can see a few pictures of them in the gallery above. These trees are particularly beautiful, because they bloom in mid-summer rather than in spring. Just when you don’t expect to see a flowering tree, you walk past a Goldenrain Tree and become entranced by its beautiful yellow flowers!
The flowers are so brightly colored that yellow dyes were made from the buds. Later in the summer, the flowers turn into seed pods that look a bit like the old Japanese Pagoda Lanterns, full of seeds that can be eaten if you roast them.
This tree that you see in the picture measured in at a circumference of just under 8 feet, giving it a diameter or about 2.5 feet. As you look at the measurement picture, take a look at the wavy bark that is another unique characteristic of this tree.
Jeff Ling is a Registered Consulting Arborist and Co-Founder of TreeMasters, Inc., a full service arbor-care company, located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It services tree owners with scientific tree management services throughout Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio.