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What Is a Golden Shower Tree?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 16 March 2014
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The golden shower tree, with the scientific name Cassia fistula, is a species of flowering plant in the Fabaceae family. It is a drought-tolerant tropical tree that grows in warm regions such as India, Thailand, and Pakistan. Cassia fistula is cultivated for ornamental and medicinal reasons due to its naturally flamboyant blooms and the numerous uses of its legumes, leaves, and bark. This medium-sized tropical tree can rapidly grow to heights of around 60 feet (18 m). Its foliage is composed of dark green, oval-shaped leaves about 6 inches (15 cm) in length and grouped together in six to eight pairs.

Common names for this deciduous tree are purging cassia, golden chain tree, and Indian laburnum. There are around 500 other species in the Cassia genus, to which the golden shower tree belongs. The golden yellow flowers of this tree assemble into long chain-like clusters on soft, woody branches and measure between 1.5 to 2.7 inches (about 4 to 7 cm) each in diameter. During late spring, these five-petaled flowers overtake the entire tree, almost leaving the leaves unnoticeable. The tree also bears elongated green legumes, usually about 2 feet (0.6 m) long. The legumes hold several seeds, which often are used as an alternative medicinal remedy for multiple conditions.

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The golden shower tree grows in great numbers, especially in India and Thailand. Gardens and backyards in these countries often have one or two of these deciduous plants. Some special events in this plant’s native regions incorporate decorations made with golden shower tree blossoms, particularly in Thailand, because many people there consider the color yellow a symbol for royalty. Cassia fistula is also the national flower of Thailand.

Numerous regions in southern Asia make use of the golden shower tree as a traditional herbal cure for some ailments. Its roots have been used to treat skin diseases and burns, while its bark is crushed or boiled to relieve constipation and indigestion. The pulp of the tree’s legumes is also utilized to cure colic and fever. Dry cough and bronchitis, on the other hand, are alleviated by infusing the leaves into warm beverages. Large doses of the leaves and bark can, however, lead to vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain.

Aside from its medicinal uses, pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and small birds also benefit from golden shower trees by utilizing them as food and shelter. Wild-growing golden shower trees have been spotted in the Himalayas as well. Taller specimens of this species can be seen when it grow in its natural settings, such as forests and valleys.

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Discuss this Article

kylee07drg
Post 4

I have an Asian friend whose family has always used parts of the golden shower tree to treat illnesses. They say that it can fight bacteria very well, so anytime that they get any sort of infection, they use extracts from this tree.

They buy it from a local herbal supply store. It seems that it always helps them get over sinus infections.

However, I tried it when I got a urinary tract infection, and it did nothing. Maybe it depends on the type of bacteria you have. Has anyone else here had any success with using golden shower tree extract to cure infections?

seag47
Post 3

My cousin lives in southern Florida, and he has some golden shower trees on his land. They are gorgeous trees, but they produce really weird legumes.

They eventually turn brown, and they look just like dark hot dogs hanging from the branches! It is quite a bizarre sight to see.

My cousin is aware of the many medicinal uses of these legumes, but he is afraid to try them. He has heard that they can be toxic when not properly prepared.

I think he is wise to leave them alone. Buying some golden shower tree extract from a health food store would be a safer option.

OeKc05
Post 2

@Oceana – I love golden shower trees, because their blooms remind me of my favorite type of flowering vine, wisteria. This plant also has long clusters of petals, and they hang down like grapes.

The golden shower flowers sometimes start out white near the top of the cluster and gradually get more yellow toward the bottom. Also, the smaller blooms are down toward the tip, and a few unopened buds are usually hanging in the mix.

Sometimes, the buds will be a light green color. It is neat to see the gradient run from white to yellow to green.

Oceana
Post 1

I saw some golden shower trees while on vacation once. They are truly breathtaking, and I wish that they could grow further north, because I would love to have some in my yard! I'm sure that they would die in winter where I live, though.

What is so striking about the tree is the large clusters of yellow flowers. I'm used to flowering trees having blooms that grow to a couple of inches in length. These trees have bloom clusters about a foot long!

I asked someone who had the trees growing in his yard how long the blooms last. He told me that they begin in spring and can bloom throughout the summer, until about Labor Day. That is a long time to have such pretty flowers on a tree!

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