Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Plant of the week: Koelreuteria elegans

This time my plant of of the week is quite large, and it isn’t even in my own yard. Fellow Davis gardener Sue emailed me the other day to let me know about a Taiwanese rain tree (Koelreuteria elegans ssp. formosa) that is currently in all its fall glory. Now when you think of trees in the fall, you think of colorful leaves. And typically that’s what you get. However, take a closer look at the tree in the center of this photo:

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Let’s move a little closer:

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It looks like the tree is in full bloom, doesn’t it?

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But trees don’t flower in the fall, do they?

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No, these aren’t the flowers, they are the fruit.

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Three-sided seed capsules that look a little like Chinese lanterns and have a papery feel. I think they’re all the more beautiful because they have such a tactile quality.

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I don’t have a photo of a Taiwanese rain tree in bloom, but here’s one from Wikipedia:

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QUICK FACTS:

Botanical name: Koelreuteria elegans ssp. formosana

Common name: Taiwanese rain tree, flamegold (some people call it “golden rain tree” but that name technically refers to Koelreuteria paniculata)

Mature size (height x spread): 25-40 ft. x 20-30 ft. 

Location: Full sun

Soil: clay-tolerant

Water needs: Low

Hardiness: 15-20° F (zone 9)

7 comments:

  1. Wow, quite cool! Another awesome tree that I can't grow. :)

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    1. Sorry :-(. For every plant I *can* grow, there are three others I can't grow, LOL.

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  2. Wow, what a display! The seed capsules looks fab en masse like that!

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    1. I agree!I can't believe I never noticed this tree before. It's been there FOREVER--it has historic status with the city.

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