Golden Rain Tree
Koelreuteria paniculata

William Maclure wanted to raise a kind of tree known as the "pride of China," also known today as "golden rain tree." In 1829, after Maclure had moved from New Harmony to Mexico, he acquired seeds but was unable to get them to germinate. In hopes that they would do better in New Harmony, seeds were sent to Thomas Say. He was successful, and today there are many golden rain trees in New Harmony and the surrounding region.

Local tradition holds that the New Harmony naturalists introduced the golden raintree to America, but in fact, credit for this introduction belongs to Thomas Jefferson, dating from 1809. For details, see the note on page 524 of

Josephine Mirabella Elliott, editor, Partnership for Posterity: The Correspondence of William Maclure and Marie Duclos Fretageot, 1820-1833, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, 1994.

Shown here are golden rain trees growing within the Roofless Church in New Harmony, in August, 1998. The August seed pods are striking, but it is the June/July flowers that precede them for which the tree is named. In July 1999, these same trees will probably be photographed again, and images will be added to this page.

New Harmony is located in Posey County, Indiana, which has sometimes been called "Raintree County." There is a well-known novel and movie of that name, and indeed, the Tree plays an essential role in Raintree County. Both the author, Ross F. Lockridge, Jr., and his father, also an author, had close connections with New Harmony.

Ross Franklin Lockridge Sr. (1877-1952); Jr. (1914-1948), authors
New Harmony Scientists, Educators, Writers & Artists
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