Laburnum anagyroides 'Pendula'. GOLDEN-CHAIN. Eastern and Central Europe.
Laburnum x wateri 'Vossii'. GOLDEN CHAIN TREE. Europe.

LEGUMINOSAE (Pea family)

Pendula (referring to the drooping branchlets) was planted at the back of Tresidder Union in Fall 2005. It is in a small planting circle, near wood bollards, not far from the wood picnic tables. Another specimen was planted at Lake House. Laburnum 'Vossii' was also planted in Fall 2005, also in a planting circle, just outside the back patio of Tresidder in the paved path to the back entrance of the Faculty Club. Another replaced a maytens tree in an island off Lasuen Mall just north of the fountain in front of the Quad entrance to Green Library (replaced by Michelia doltsopa in Spring, 2013). The memorial stone at its base reads "In memory of James Baillieu 1948-1972. We sought peace, may others find it here." 'Vossii' is a hybrid of L. anagyroides and L. alpinum. All trees wore their showy-yellow bloom beginning June 1, 2006. When not in bloom, look for the distinctive, alternate leaves of three leaflets.

Illustrations (links open new windows): habit | bloom


The Pea family is among the largest flowering plant families with about 18,000 species in 630 genera worldwide. Caesalpina is the type genus for the Fabaceae subfamily Caesalpinioideae, following Cronquist (1981). This subfamily is intermediate in flower morphology between the other two higher-level classifications Mimosoideae and Faboideae (or Papilionoideae). The latter and largest group includes plants with papilionaceous, "butterfly-like", corollas (with standard, wings, and keel)—as the common garden pea.

All subfamilies are well represented on campus for closer study. Caesalpinioideae and Mimosoideae include mainly tropical trees with pinnately or bipinnately compound, alternate leaves. Mimosoideae flowers are regular (radially symmetrical), the corolla with equal petals often fused into a tube. Campus representatives include Acacia, Albizia, and Gymnocladus. Caesalpinioideae flowers are usually more or less zygomorphic (divisible into equal halves in one plane only). As with Caesalpina spp., the petals are distinct, the uppermost often smaller than the laterals. Other campus members of the subfamily include Bauhinia, Cassia, Cercis, Gleditsia, and Parkinsonia. It would be instructive to work out the higher classification of the many other campus peas (genera listed in the family index) from field observation throughout the year.

— further reading: Wendy Zomlefer, Guide to Flowering Plant Families, Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1994.

Name derivation, genus | species

Related material:

Botanical name index | Common name index | Family home