Golden Rain Tree: Fall color for South Florida

In September I was so blessed to arrange the flowers for Yvette & Trevor's wedding in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  As I drove from the airport in Idaho Falls along US-26 to Jackson, my breath escaped me and tears truly streamed down my face as I took in the all shades of red, orange and yellow flaming up the hills all around.  Glorious would be a one-word description of the sights.

It was killing me that I couldn't stop to take pictures and a moment to breathe it all in.  But alas I had flowers that had arrived in boxes that would soon turn into their coffins if I didn't high tail it to Jackson to get them hydrated.  I caught a couple pics from the car as I was maneuvering the windy mountain roads.  They don't do this scene justice, but...

Winding through Idaho

Winding through Idaho

Along the Snake River in Jackson.

Along the Snake River in Jackson.

Here in South Florida in our sub-tropical landscape we may not be able to experience quite the same beauty as our Northern friends, but I have come across a tree that gives us a little taste of fall color.

Golden Rain tree

Golden Rain tree

The Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) grows to about 25-40 feet tall with a 20-35 foot span.   It has pinnate leaves and spires of yellow flowers in the fall followed by peachy to copper colored paper lantern-like fruit capsules.  Both the yellow flowers and the fruit capsules can often be on the tree at the same time as it transitions.  This transition really gives it that Fall vibe.  (If you squint and place yourself in a chilled and de-humidified bubble, you'd think you were up North!)

Transitioning flowers to fruit capsules

Transitioning flowers to fruit capsules

In researching this tree I found that it's listed as being Hardy in USDA zones 5-9, but there are a few here in our town in zone 10 that are quite happy and are putting on a nice Fall show!  I did read that they don't like salt air so this tree will be found and better situated inland.

How cool are these seed pods and leaves?

How cool are these seed pods and leaves?

The tree reseeds easily when the seed pods drop and therefore can be problematic.  One site suggested planting it the grass, so that the mower takes care of any seedlings.  Here in Parkland, FL the landscapers are quick to clean up any fallen tree debris, so I don't see any issues where these are planted.  I was lucky enough to have one nearby that I could take some cuttings from and make an arrangement of the nifty seed capsules seen here with a little Brazilian Pepper.  They lasted a couple days before they started drying up.

Golden Rain Tree and Brazilian Pepper

Golden Rain Tree and Brazilian Pepper

I will admit that it may be a little wishful thinking claiming the Golden Rain tree as "fall color."  As the summer drags on and becomes completely unbearable here in South Florida, us natives tend to pine for a real fall.  But we have to remember, soon our Northern friends will be up to their knees shoveling snow and we'll be here sipping cocktails at the beach! ;)

Love where you live!