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Publication #ENH286

Cassia fistula: Golden Shower1

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, Andrew K. Koeser, Deborah R. Hilbert, and Drew C. McLean2

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. 

Full Form—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: Fabaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 10B through 11 (Figure 2)

Origin: native to India, Malaysia, and Southeast Asia

UF/IFAS Invasive Assessment Status: Not considered a problem species at this time, may be recommended (North, Central, South)

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

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

Leaf type: even-pinnately compound; made up of pairs of 4 to 8 leaflets

Leaf margin: entire, undulate

Leaf shape: elliptic (oval)

Leaf venation: pinnate

Leaf type and persistence: deciduous

Leaf blade length: 12 to 18 inches; leaflets are 3 to 6 inches

Leaf color: green

Fall color: yellow

Fall characteristic: not showy
Figure 3. 

Leaf—Cassia fistula: Golden-shower


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Flower

Flower color: yellow

Flower characteristics: very showy; emerges in clusters 8"–18" long racemes

Flowering: spring to early summer, then again in early fall

Figure 4. 

Flower—Cassia fistula: Golden-shower


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Fruit

Fruit shape: cylindrical; pod or pod-like, elongated

Fruit length: 1 to 2 feet

Fruit covering: dry or hard

Fruit color: green to black with maturity

Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; showy; fruit/leaves a litter problem

Figure 5. 

Fruit—Cassia fistula: Golden-shower


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Trunk and Branches

Trunk/branches: branches droop; not showy; typically one trunk; no thorns

Bark: gray and smooth, becoming brownish and rough with age

Pruning requirement: needed for strong structure

Breakage: resistant

Current year twig color: brown

Current year twig thickness: thick

Wood specific gravity: unknown

Figure 6. 

Bark—Cassia fistula: Golden-shower


Credit:

Gritta Hasing


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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.

References

Koeser, A. K., Hasing, G., Friedman, M. H., and Irving, R. B. 2015. Trees: North & Central Florida. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Koeser, A.K., Friedman, M.H., Hasing, G., Finley, H., Schelb, J. 2017. Trees: South Florida and the Keys. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Footnotes

1.

This document is ENH286, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2018. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu for the currently supported version of this publication.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department; Ryan W. Klein, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department; Andrew K. Koeser, assistant professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Deborah R. Hilbert, graduate assistant, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; and Drew C. McLean, biological scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, GCREC; 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.