Chinese Flame-Tree
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Chinese Flame-Tree
E Introduced Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Chinese Flame-Tree, Bougainvillea Golden Rain Tree
Botanical name: Koelreuteria bipinnata    Family: Sapindaceae (Soapberry family)
Synonyms: Koelreuteria integrifolia

Chinese Flame-Tree is a very popular landscape tree native to China. This broad-spreading, evergreen tree reaches a height of 35-45 ft. The tree is more commonly seen covered with large clusters of persistent rose-colored, papery capsules, which may be mistaken for the blooms. Flowers are small, fragrant, and appear in very showy, dense, panicles at the end of branches in late summer. The beautiful flowering however, last only for a short while, and is followed by large clusters of the two-inch-long "Chinese lanterns". These papery husks are held above the evergreen foliage and retain their pink color after drying and are very popular for use in everlasting flower arrangements. This particular species can be identified by it's 4-petal flowers, which distinguishes it from Koelreuteria elegans which has 5-petal flowers. The leaves are double-compound, which distinguishes it from Koelreuteria paniculata which has single-compound leaves. Chinese Flame-Tree is native to the Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, Yunnan regions of China. It is popular world over as a landscape tree.

Identification credit: J.M. Garg Photographed in Delhi.

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