The Garden’s Curator of Collections, Douglas Justice, took today’s Botany Photo of the Day. He wrote the accompanying entry as well.
Koelreuteria paniculata, or golden rain tree, is a drought resistant tree from China, grown for its abundant summer flowers and its papery, lantern-like fruit. It forms a broad crown (to 15 m) with pinnate leaves that emerge hot-pink before turning green. Known as Luan in China, its flowers are used both as a yellow dye and in traditional medicine, and the tree is planted over the graves of scholars. The inflated capsular fruit are wind-blown, and they ultimately shatter in order to disseminate the seeds. Though it is naturalized in many places (Korea, Japan, and the U.S.), because of its drought tolerance and capacity for long-distance dispersal K. paniculata does not generally spread under Vancouver’s wet winter conditions.
This specimen, planted at the Botanical Garden entrance, was grown from wild seed collected in South Korea. Another specimen from the same seed batch faced this tree from across the courtyard. The other tree was less compact in growth and considerably inferior with respect to flowering, but its seed capsules were always coloured bright red and very showy, whereas this specimen’s fruits are always dull brown. Note the bald eagle perched on the Douglas fir snag in the distance.