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

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Zones 8-24, 26, 28-31, H1
Full Sun
Regular Water

Koelreuteria bipinnata

Chinese Flame Tree
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.

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