Mystery plant 016

Imported from Asia, this plant has spread (usually in an unwelcome fashion–considered invasive in Illinois) through most eastern, some midwestern and a few western states in the U.S.  When you know the name of this plant, post a comment with its common name, scientific name and any personal story you’d like to share about this plant.


New growth in spring


Young shoot — bark of older plant in background


Flowering branches on left; leaf branches on right




Plant with flowers and developing fruits


Growth habit


Fruits and leaves


Fruit (seed pods)


ANSWER (subsequently added to this post to facilitate the “search” function for these images):  Goldenrain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)

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9 Responses to Mystery plant 016

  1. Eva says:

    It looks like Ailanthus altissima or tree of heaven. The leaflets have 2 small asymmetrical lobes at the base and distinctive samaras. Now in British Columbia too. Your photos are excellent. Thanks for the exercises. Great fun!

    • Angelyn says:

      Eva, nice try — but “no.” Actually, Ailanthus altissima was the featured plant as Mystery Plant 008. If you look at that post, you can see the difference between the seed pods of Tree-of-heaven and this mystery plant.

      There is another blog post comparing Ailanthus altissima with a “looks similar” plant. You can find both posts by searching on “ailanthus” in the search box.

  2. Kari says:

    This looks like a golden raintree, Koelreuteria paniculata. Discovered my first one this year because of the seed pods.

    • Angelyn says:

      Hurrah, Kari! You are correct. This is Goldenrain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata). This plant was a tricky one for me to figure out when I first saw it. In fact, it took nearly a year of watching it through the seasons — plus some serendipity — to find its name.

      • Kari says:

        Me too! I guess I just assumed it was a chinaberry until the seed pods showed up. I found it on a popular hike and bike trail on Lady Bird Lake here in Austin. Love the mystery plant challenge; keep ’em coming!

  3. Todd says:

    Thank you!!! I have been frustrated in not being able to pin down the origin and name of this tree for numerous years. I live at an elevation of 5600 ft in Arizona, and have nursed this tree for 20 years to get it to 30 ft high with a 24 ft canopy. A most excellent shade tree for the hot summer sun! Hummingbirds love it! Cats too!

    • Dan Sorth says:

      I have a golden rain tree at my newly built home in Hollister Mo there were 2 but one was dozed. Hummingbirds don’t seem care about it, and there are quite a few here.
      One thing the description doesn’t mention is the color of seed pods. They are very interesting, they look as if polished bronze after being green as in the photos. It’s kind of small for being much good as a shade tree. This site was very helpful and fast thank you .

  4. Paul Ludden says:

    We have trees with seed pods just like those pictured here, but they turn a lovely nut brown by mid October (e.g. now 10-26-15). I am in Los Angeles, California. Might I have the selfsame “Golden Rain Tree” or is it a “Golden-brown wishing for rain” tree? Please advise.

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