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Koelreuteria paniculata (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)
Koelreuteria paniculata (photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.)

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Zone
Zones vary by species.
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Koelreuteria

Sapindaceae
Deciduous, Trees

Small trees native to eastern Asia noted for large, loose clusters of yellow flowers followed by fat, papery fruit capsules that resemble 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. Control self-sown seedlings.

Koelreuteria bipinnata

Grows to 20–40 ft. tall and wide, eventually flat topped. Leaves are 1–2 ft. long and divided into 7–12 oval leaflets; they turn yellow for a short time before dropping. Late-summer flower clusters are like those of K. paniculata, but 2-in. capsules are more colorful, in shades of orange, red, or salmon. Capsules come quickly after flowers and persist into fall. Prune the tree to develop high branching. Wood is brittle and may break under a heavy load of snow. Roots are deep but not invasive; a good tree to plant under.

Koelreuteria paniculata
Koelreuteria paniculata

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Koelreuteria paniculata

Grows to 20–35 ft. tall and 25–40 ft. wide. Open branching, giving slight shade. Leaves are to 15 in. long with 7–15 oval, toothed or lobed leaflets, each 1–3 in. long. New leaves are purplish, maturing to bright green in summer; may turn yellow to gold in fall, but fall foliage color is unreliable. Very showy, 8–14-in.-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, and wind. Prune to shape; can be gawky without pruning.

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