Monday, August 31, 2009

Koelreuteria bipinnata....the flowers are pretty but it's not Neal's favorite tree

Actually he hates it and regularly opines to the effect that we ought to cut it down. Likely the fact that Neal (a two day a week Asian Collections volunteer) ends up weeding out maybe half of the thousands of seedlings that it produces has something to do with his extreme position. This tree produces major quantities of seed that is broadcast over the bottom third of China Valley. A good percentage seems to germinate.The good thing is that the seedlings are strong and tap rooted so that it's fairly easy to pull them out whole.

Chinese flame tree is first cousin to the Golden rain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata. Both are medium-sized trees with yellow flowers in the summer followed by curious bladder-like seed pods. On K. paniculata the pods turn beige/brown so that the trees appear spotted with dead branchlets. I remember when K. bipinnata came on the scene commercially; its pods matured to a light pink....a plus instead of a minus.

Our specimen, we removed two others though not at Neal's behest, was grown from seed wild collected in China in October 1988. In the Qingliangfeng Natural Preserve in Anhui Province (East China). The parent tree was growing on a slope near a stream at ~700m elevation. Our tree is growing on a slope now at the bottom of Chila Valley. I am intrigued by this sort of detail about the history of a plant. The notes continue that it was growing from a mass of evergreen vine. As annoying as it is, it's beautiful right now!

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