Cassia Fistula

Golden Shower Tree

cassia fistula

Flowering trees are amongst the most spectacular plants cultivated in gardens. Their sheer size and abundance of blooms makes a bold statement in suburban landscapes and in natural habitats. Cassia Fistula is a fine example of one of the magnificent flowering trees that enhance gardens all around the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the globe.

The Cassia Fistula are found growing naturally in South East Asia, Central and South America and on numerous islands in the Pacific. In the sub-tropical regions of South Africa, Cassia Fistula, or Golden Shower trees, are often found growing in many older, mature gardens. They have lost popularity in recent years with more indigenous trees being planted.

Young Cassia Fistula trees can still to be found in certain select nurseries, although they are generally regarded to be scarce. Also known as the Indian Laburnum, the trees grow at a moderate rate to a mature size of 4 -12m tall with a spreading growth habit. The ultimate size is determined by climate and rainfall. The trees are usually deciduous, shedding their leaves in winter or during periods of drought – although they can retain a fair number of leaves in the tropics and are deemed to be semi-evergreen in these areas.

The compound leaves are large, comprising of six to 16 smaller leaflets of a grey-green hue. From late spring through to summer an abundance of fragrant, yellow flowers hang in pendent racemes from the branches.

These drooping ‘bunches’ of flowers can reach a length of 40 – 50cm and are a breathtaking sight. Plant Cassia Fistula as specimen trees in sub-tropical gardens, both large and small. They need to stand alone and not be cluttered in any way for their splendour and beauty to be appreciated.

From a soil perspective they prefer well-drained conditions, tolerating both sandy and loamy soils. If you have even the slightest chance of growing one of these splendid trees in your garden, then please persevere for the rewards are always truly magnificent. Few flowering trees can compete with Cassia fistula. In certain literature they may be classified as Senna fistula – many Cassia species are now known as Senna.

The Gardener