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Goldenrain Tree

Koelreuteria paniculata

In 1809, Thomas Jefferson received seeds from his Parisian friend, Madame de Tessé. He reported back to her in March 1811 that a seedling "has germinated, and is now growing. I cherish it with particular attentions, as it daily reminds me of the friendship with which you have honored me." Jefferson's tree was likely the first grown in America, and Jefferson made the earliest American citation of this tree. Goldenrain trees are now naturalized at Monticello.

The scientifically-minded French Jesuit, Pierre d'Incarville, was one of the few privileged explorers allowed in China during the mid-18th century. It is believed that, while in Peking, he collected the black, pea-sized seeds of the Goldenrain tree, which he entrusted to a Russian caravan on a westward trek to Europe. The seeds would eventually reach the Jardin du Roi in Paris and were being grown by 1763. However, according to Joan Dutton, the tree was introduced in England in 1560.

The Goldenrain is a hardy, medium-sized, deciduous tree with large clusters of bright yellow flowers that cover the tree for several weeks in early summer, followed by papery pods.


Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Goldenrain Tree.
Growth Type: 
Deciduous Tree
Hardiness Zones: 
Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
Location at Monticello: 
Vegetable Garden and near the South Dependencies
Planting Conditions: 
Full Sun
Blooming History: 
June 19, 2019 to July 10, 2019June 10, 2017 to July 26, 2017June 11, 2014 to July 10, 2014June 10, 2013 to July 16, 2013May 24, 2012 to June 28, 2012June 7, 2011 to June 28, 2011June 9, 2010 to June 28, 2010June 11, 2009 to July 4, 2009June 18, 2008 to July 4, 2008June 14, 2007 to July 6, 2007June 13, 2006 to July 11, 2006June 10, 2005 to July 13, 2005June 8, 2004 to July 12, 2004June 12, 2002 to July 5, 2002June 25, 2001 to July 12, 2001


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