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Swamp White Oak

Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder

Scientific Name:
Koelreuteria paniculata

Other Common Names:
Shower Tree, Pride of India, Varnish Tree, Gate Tree, China Tree

Under Power Lines:
Yes—this tree is approved for planting under power lines.

Street Tree Planting:
Yes—minimum planting strip width of 5 feet. If planting a street tree, you must be approved for a permit.

Description:
This vase-shaped tree makes an excellent street tree, especially under power lines. The tree’s bright yellow flowers are showy and bloom from July to August. In fall the tree’s foliage turns bright yellow and its flowers are replaced by bright orange lantern-like seedpods at the end of the branches.

Mature Height:
30 feet

Mature Spread:
30 feet

Leaves:
Intricately shaped, almost lacey looking leaves turning yellow in fall.

Flowers:
Showy bright yellow clusters of flowers from July- August, with some lasting into October.

Fruit:
Flowers are followed by bright orange large “Chinese Lantern” seedpods that serve as nice contrast to the tree’s fall color.

Cultural Notes:
Plant in full sun and avoid planting in shade. It grows very well in a wide range of soils, including high pH soils. This is a great urban tree because of its tolerance of drought, air pollution, and salt spray.

Potential Problems:
Very few pest and disease problems. Thin bark is easily damaged from mechanical impact so be sure to mulch around the base of the tree to prevent lawnmower or weed whacker damage. Tree also requires structural pruning of lower braches for pedestrian clearance as the braches tend to droop as the tree grows.

Minimum Planting Distances:

  • 15 feet from house or building
  • 3 ½ feet back from the face of the curb
  • 5 feet from underground utility lines
  • 10 feet from power poles
  • 7 ½ feet from driveways (10 feet recommended)
  • 20 feet from street lights and other existing trees
  • 30 feet from street intersections

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