Here in Mobile, Alabama, there is a small tree that blooms in the fall with beautiful yellow flowers which everyone calls a Golden Rain Tree. They are really quite lovely, and I have always wanted one so, when I recently saw one in the local home improvement store, I bought it. This did not set well with the husband who demanded to know where in the heck were we going to plant a tree?
I shot back at him four or five ideas, none of which he liked very much. We then looked the tree up on the internet to get an idea as to how much space it would need, how much light, and so on. We were both shocked at what we saw; according to the online reports, this tree was going to rapidly spread thirty feet wide!
Still, I remained firm – we should keep the tree. It was just too beautiful for us to do without, I insisted. My husband had other ideas, but he wasn’t sharing them with me. I simply knew he had them by the look on his face.
I left to shop and gave him his instructions – plant the tree! He gave me a glare. I fully expected to find a mass of broken twigs when I returned from the store with a pitiful excuse of how the poor thing had “fallen”, but no! I returned to a happy husband and a planted tree. How could this be?
Simple. We did not have, nor apparently does anyone in Mobile, a Golden Rain Tree.
Although Mobilians love their tree and call it a Golden Rain Tree, the tree is in fact a shrub named Senna, variety Cassia corymbossa. Perhaps it is a relative of the Golden Rain Tree because some references call the blossoms a “golden shower” (yes, a pun is intended), but the two are from very different families. The Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteureria paniculata) is actually a tree that grows 30 feet wide and is from the soapberry family. Both the Golden Rain Tree and the Senna Cassia corymbossa are found in the South; however, the Golden Rain Tree does better a bit better in cooler zones because otherwise you get too many seed pods. The Senna Cassia corymbossa is a true Southern plant and found only in the Deep South – primarily in Texas and southern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Needless to say, when my husband learned that the Senna Cassia corymbossa only got around 8 or 9 feet high, he was much more willing to plant the thing. The funny thing was that I didn’t figure this out myself originally. I should have realized we hadn’t seen any thirty foot yellow flowering trees here in Mobile! But I was so used to folks calling the tree a Golden Rain Tree that I was willing to do the same.
But a Senna Cassia corymbossa by any other name is just as sweet.
Personal Knowledge and Experience