Koelreuteria paniculata is native to East Asia (China and Korea), however I took these photos in Athens, Greece and have seen the tree in Marin County, north of SF in California and just a few weeks ago in Paris. It is a small – medium deciduous tree growing up to 17 m tall. The seedpods caught my eye due to their bubble-like form. Shiny round black seeds are suspended inside. Although not in bloom this time of year, flowers are bright yellow, thus the name Golden Rain tree.
Reportedly the seeds can be roasted and eaten.
K. paniculata is a member of the Sapindaceae family, which includes a wide range of useful tropical and subtropical species, such as as (links to previous posts): Akee (Blighia sapida), Longon (Dimocarpus longan), Pulisan (Nephelium mutabile), Rambutan (N. lappaceum), Guarana (Paullinia cupana), and Spanish lime (Melicoccus bijugatus) … to name a few.
Click individual photos below to enlarge…