Native to Asia, these small trees are admired for large, loose clusters of yellow flowers followed by fat, papery fruit capsules resembling little Japanese lanterns. Capsules are used in both fresh and dried arrangements. Good patio, lawn, or street trees. Very adaptable to different soils as long as drainage is fairly good. Self-sown seedlings can be invasive.
CHINESE FLAME TREE
koelreuteria bipinnata(Koelreuteria integrifoliola)
- MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9.
- To 2040 feet tall and not quite as wide, eventually flat topped.
- Deep green leaves 12 feet long, divided into 7 to 12 oval leaflets; turn yellow for a short time before dropping in fall.
- Blooms in mid- to late summer; flower clusters are like those of Koelreuteria paniculata, but 2 inches capsules are more colorful, in shades of orange, red, or salmon.
- Capsules come quickly after flowers and persist into fall.
- Prodigious number of seedlings.
koelreuteria elegans(Koelreuteria formosana)
- Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11.
- Round-headed tree 2030 feet tall and equally broad.
- Dark green leaves about 112 feet long, with 9 to 16 leaflets.
- Bright yellow fall flowers in tall, erect clusters are followed by especially showy clusters of long-lasting, puffy, orange-red to salmon fruit.
- Fall foliage is yellow but not consistent; show is often poor.
- Zones US, MS, LS, CS, USDA 6-9.
- To 2035 feet tall, 2540 feet wide.
- Open branching, giving slight shade.
- Leaves to 15 inches long, with 7 to 15 oval, toothed or lobed leaflets, each 13 inches long.
- New leaves are purplish, maturing to bright green in summer; may turn yellow to gold in fall.
- Very showy, 8- to 14 inches-long flower clusters in early to midsummer.
- Fruit capsules are red when young, maturing to buff and brown shades; last well into autumn.
- Tree takes cold, heat, drought, wind.
- Prune to shape; can be gawky without pruning.
- Coral Sun is a nonflowering selection with coral new growth that matures to green, contrasting with coral stems.
- Fastigiata is 25 feet tall, 3 feet wide.
- Golden Candle grows 35 feet tall, 34 feet wide.
- Rose Lantern has seedpods flushed with pink.
- September blooms a month after the species.