Originating from China and Korea
This elegant small tree has so many qualities that we can’t understand why it is not planted more often. Its size makes it usable even in small gardens, where it forms a lush crown of foliage atop a shapely trunk and branches, with the character of a large tree but in miniature. The large deciduous leaves have a delicate look, and are feather shaped (pinnate), with each leaflet having serrated edges. The foliage slowly changes colour through the season from a deep and even glossy looking green to paler green and finally in the autumn to a deep golden hue. Its main attraction however, are the flowers and proceeding seed pods.
From mid-summer onward conical racemes (a flowering structure with many stems) are produced, up to 30 or 40cm long bearing masses of deep golden and orange striped individual scented blooms. Each raceme can bear flowers in succession for many weeks, and the tree can go on producing them until early autumn. After the flowers, lantern shaped seed pods appear, pale green at first and then darkening to a pink tinted green. In optimal seasonal conditions the pods can turn an intense coral pink before fading to a dark tan and becoming papery, whereupon they begin to open to reveal the small brown seeds inside. Such is the procession of flowering on each raceme that both seeds and flowers can be present on the same one.
The sight of a Pride of India tree, heavily laden with its golden flowers, or later with coral pink seedpods is hard to match in the range of ornamental plants that we can grow in the UK. It looks equally at home in a jungle or exotic planting as it does in a more traditional garden, where it might be used as an isolated specimen.
This is a hardy and easy to grow species, tolerating a wide range of soil conditions, but thriving best of all in a loamy soil, slightly sheltered from strong winds, which may affect the sheer weight of flower and seed pods carried by the tree.
Height and spread after 4 – 5 years 2.m x 1.5m
Semi mature height and spread after 8 – 10 years 4m x 3m
Potential height and spread after 20 years plus, 10m x 8m