Koelreuteria paniculata
goldenrain tree

Sapindaceae (soapberry family)
China, Korea, Japan
Koelreuteria pan
Goldenrain tree leaf silhoutte. From Trees of Stanford and Environs by Ronald Bracewell

One of the five official memorial trees from ancient times in China, the goldenrain tree was reserved for the tombs of scholars. The compound leaves are about a foot long with 7 to 15 leaflets each of which is itself more or less deeply lobed or serrated. The large foot-long clusters of yellow flowers, which can be used for making a yellow dye, give way at the end of the summer to conspicuous brown, papery pods resembling Chinese lanterns with internal pockets containing three hard, ¼-inch black fruits, each almost filled by one seed. The leaves turn yellow, brown, and red before falling. The tree is resistant to frost and is suitable for alkaline soils. A fine planting grows along the east side of Schwab Residential Center.

Other campus genera in the soapberry family are Alectryon, Cupaniopsis, and Dodonaea. Recent phylogenetic analyses place Acer and Aesculus in this family as well.

Name derivation: Koelreuteria – after J.G Koelreuter (1733–1806), German professor of botany; paniculata – with flowers in panicles.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Family notes added by John Rawlings and SP.