Question for tree experts

We got a Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) by mail and planted it. I seemed that it had not survived the winter (no leaves on the stick) but then tiny shoots came out of the ground all around the stick. I’m guessing the roots survived altho’ the stick didn’t. So now we have a Golden Rain Bush with lots of “trunks” (I guess they would be) up to 6-8 feet tall.

Here’s my question: how do we get these to be one tree trunk? Should I wrap them all together in January and hope they’ll all grow together into one stalk in the spring? Or leave the tallest one and trim all the others at the base? Or something else?|


You best not ask an Aussie … they are a declared environmental weed here and hence the appropriate antipodean response is:

They won’t grow together, and to any extent they might it would make the trunk weaker due to the bark inclusion between them.

Pick the biggest one (biggest around, not necessarily tallest) if there is any difference, or else the one closest to the center, and cut off the others, and then ruthlessly keep cutting off any sprouts that appear anywhere on the other stumps or around them from the ground. I don’t guarantee you will get a viable tree, but this is your best shot.


I would also keep the thickest stem and cut the rest flush to the ground. Apply pruning spray generously to control suckering. Apply mulch generously to help control suckering too.

For some trees, I cut a round piece of landscaping clothing about 2ft in diameter, cut it just enough to have it fit snugly around the trunk. Then use landscape staples to secure it over the cut stems / suckers.

And mulch it well the first few years to give it extra protection in winter.

It might be different where you are, but where I am if one has a Golden Rain tree, one had better either get used to weeding out Golden Rain trees, or grow to love having lots of Golden Rain trees.

To say they are prolific is an understatement.

Yep, one reason they are prolific is that they are fragile.

So you don’t want twisted trunks , or trunks rubbing together , they will just rot , break, die …

You want to prune it back to have one nice straight vertical trunk. If it looks like a branch is growing too big and is going to bend the leader ( the central trunk ), prune it off.

It doesn’t have much of a root system, and they are fragile too, so you don’t want to disturb the roots, you will break off the too many roots trying to separate them. You could see if one is already quite separate and see if it stays alive after moving it ?

From the previous comments you may not even want this tree. I bought several of those hybrid poplars that claimed to be an “instant tree”. Yes it was in a few years and then due to spreading/suckers it quickly became unmanageable, more of a bush than a tree. For several years after cutting them down I was still fighting new trees sprouting out of the ground.

May not apply to your tree (mostly more for fruit trees) if the top winter kills and sprouts come back up from the base you didn’t “save” the tree, it is coming from the grafted rootstock and will be a completely different variety than what you planted. Most often a winter hardy rootstock but has junk/undesirable characteristics in the fruit.

If the OP is in zone 5 or higher, started out with a decent-sized sapling, didn’t have extreme winter lows and the tree still died back to the ground, I’d wonder if what was shipped was Koelreuteria bipinnata, which is more tender than K. paniculata and also sometimes sold as golden rain tree.

If not, then hopefully the preserved single trunk will be wood-hardy after the current season’s growth.

K. paniculata is likely to pose much less risk of “invasiveness” in the colder parts of its range. Nice tree.