A golden rain tree, also known as the Pride of India, varnish tree or China tree, is a deciduous tree native to eastern Asia with lacy leaves and trumpet-shaped yellow blossoms. The golden rain tree is one of the fastest-growing deciduous trees and often grows up to 30 feet (9 m). When mature, the tree has a rounded shape. It is one of the more popular ornamental trees in the United States because of its showy yellow flowers and ornamental purplish-red seed pods. While the tree is prized for these colorful flowers and seed pods, the quick propagation and drought tolerance of the golden rain tree can make it an invasive plant in warmer climates.
The golden rain tree’s most well-known feature is its yellow flowers. A mature tree produces long strings of yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers in late summer and early fall. The tree is named for those times when a breeze causes the yellow flowers to fall to the ground in a golden rain. Ornamental seed pods measuring around 2 inches (5 cm) appear after the flowers in mid- to late fall. These purplish seed pods are beautiful, but the tree produces large quantities of them, causing quick propagation of new trees.
Gardeners wishing to add this Asian tree to their garden must be prepared for the annual rain of blossoms and the quick propagation of new trees. Fallen flowers can quickly blanket a garden and take away from the beauty of low shrubs or other flowers, so gardeners may need to rake away fallen blossoms. The ornamental seed pods should also be removed to ensure that the tree doesn’t overtake the garden. Cultivators of the golden rain tree should diligently uproot saplings and rake up fallen seed pods in the fall.
The golden rain tree is easy to care for because it is adaptable to many soil conditions and climates. The golden rain tree flourishes in loose soil that is well drained. Young trees should be watered often, but the trees become more drought tolerant once established. Regular fertilizing and full sun exposure will encourage blossoming. The golden rain tree is native to eastern Asia, so it flourishes in warm, humid climates. In cooler climates, the tree can still flourish, though cooler temperatures inhibit the growth of seed pods. As a result, the tree becomes less invasive in cooler climates and can be planted as a free-standing ornamental tree.