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Publication #ENH286

Cassia fistula: Golden Shower1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2

Introduction

Golden shower is a fast-growing tree which reaches 30 to 40 feet in height and 30 to 40 feet wide. The well-spaced branches are clothed with pinnately compound leaves, with leaflets up to eight inches long and 2.5 inches wide. These leaves will drop from the tree for a short period of time and are quickly replaced by new leaves. In summer, golden shower is decorated with thick clusters of showy yellow blooms which cover the slightly drooping branches. The blooms are followed by the production of 2-foot-long, dark brown, cylindrical seedpods which persist on the tree throughout the winter before falling to litter the ground. The seeds contained within are poisonous.

Figure 1. 

Middle-aged Cassia fistula: Golden-Shower


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General Information

Scientific name: Cassia fistula
Pronunciation: KASS-ee-uh FIST-yoo-luh
Common name(s): Golden shower
Family: Leguminosae
USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Fig. 2)
Origin: not native to North America
Invasive potential: has been evaluated using the UF/IFAS Assessment of the Status of Non-Native Plants in Florida s Natural Areas (Fox et al. 2005). This species is not documented in any undisturbed natural areas in Florida. Thus, it is not considered a problem species and may be used in Florida.
Uses: street without sidewalk; shade; specimen; tree lawn 4–6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; parking lot island 100–200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the tree

Figure 2. 

Range


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Description

Height: 30 to 40 feet
Spread: 30 to 40 feet
Crown uniformity: irregular
Crown shape: vase, oval, upright/erect
Crown density: moderate
Growth rate: fast
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: even-pinnately compound
Leaf margin: entire, undulate
Leaf shape: elliptic (oval)
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Foliage


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Flower

Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristics: very showy

Fruit

Fruit shape: pod or pod-like, elongated
Fruit length: 12 inches or more
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: purple
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: brown
Current year twig thickness: thick
Wood specific gravity: unknown

Culture

Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained
Drought tolerance: moderate
Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate

Other

Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: unknown
Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

Golden shower is ideal for use as a specimen planting. It can look a bit coarse and unkempt for short periods when the leaves drop but the vibrant flower display more than makes up for this. Some communities have planted this as a street tree where it has held up quite well.

Golden shower should be grown in full sun on well-drained soil. The trees are moderately drought- and salt-tolerant. Although golden shower is damaged by temperatures falling slightly below freezing, it will come back with warmer weather. Trees will need occasionally pruning when they are young to control shape and develop a uniform crown. Young trees can grow asymmetrical with branches often drooping toward the ground. Staking and proper pruning will help develop a well shaped and structured crown.

Propagation is by seeds (which are poisonous).

Pests

No pests are of major concern but occasionally bothered by caterpillars.

Diseases

Mildew, leaf spot, root rot diseases.

Literature Cited

Fox, A.M., D.R. Gordon, J.A. Dusky, L. Tyson, and R.K. Stocker (2005) UF/IFAS Assessment of the Status of Non-Native Plants in Florida s Natural Areas. Cited from the Internet (November 3, 2006), http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/assessment.html

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH286, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.