Chinese Flame Tree


It’s been about 15 years since I started noticing a very beautiful but unfamiliar tree that appeared here and there in the neighborhood. It had yellow flowers, and looked like a lot of other trees around town, but it was when the fruit materialized that it attracted my attention. At first, I thought they were some strange flower that I hadn’t yet seen. But as I approached and tried to get to know them, I realized they weren’t flowers but seed pods, unusual and very attractive.


I asked around and a friend told me their name, Koelreuteria bipinnata. Now that’s a hard name to remember, and it didn’t sound like a Hebrew name at all, so I kept asking whenever I was in the company of someone who knew some botany, when seeing those trees. I heard a few names… someone told me that the beautiful pinkish pods were called ‘two feathers’ in some language. And I could imagine the two leaves as feathers composing the pod… but I didn’t hear a name I could actually relate to and remember till just last week. That was when I finally heard that they were called the Chinese lantern tree in Hebrew. And that worked for me. They did look like Chinese lanterns. And moreover, the tree comes from China.


A week ago, Chana and I visited the archaeological garden not far from my home. Chana was eager to see some hyraxes since I talk about them frequently, and we had previously gone to the promenade in my neighborhood where I usually meet with them. But they were shy. A man with a dog (friendly, and on a leash) was there when we arrived, and hyraxes don’t like dogs at all. We did see one of the hyrax watchmen, but didn’t see them at play or grazing on the lawn. I thought we might have better luck at the archaeological garden, because as lovely as it is, it doesn’t seem to attract many visitors.


When we got there at first, I didn’t see any hyraxes, and apologized for our poor luck. But I did find a few Chinese lantern trees, and we both photographed them. It was something I wanted to share with you, after finally discovering their name. And once I had the Hebrew name, it was relatively easy to find their name in English. They are called Chinese Flame Trees. It was after shooting some of the trees, and a shot of the pods up close, that we suddenly noticed a group of hyrax puppies playing among the bushes and trees in a hard to access rocky area of the park.



35 responses to “Chinese Flame Tree

  1. What a very lovely tree, and one I did not know. And what a good name for it. Excellent hyrax portrait too.

  2. A good hunting day: Found what you were looking for. 🙂 Even better, you shared pictures.

  3. The tree is beautiful, and it’s quite common here in my area. Even though it isn’t native, people like it because it provides some fall color. Ours began turning that wonderful pink about a week or so ago. Here, some people call it golden rain tree, although flame tree also is used.

    I love the juxtaposition of your portrait and that of the hyraxes. The three of you are wearing similar expressions; that alone’s enough to bring a smile to my face.

    • Ah, I like the thought that we all have the same expressions. It occurred to me then that they were examining us in the same way we were looking at them. The faces of the pups look quite a bit different from the grownups. Glad to hear that you too enjoy this beautiful tree, Linda. A smile is always so good.

  4. Love that tree. I’ve seen it before but do not remember where. Probably in a large botanical park. I know only a little about hyraxes and consider them a bet related to Prarie Dogs and the one in Africa that also live in colonies. My memory won’t allow me to name it. But I don’t know if either of those do puppy care as a group, I’ll await photos of yours. 🙂
    Nice looking beard on that old man. I wonder if you’d let it flourish.
    Always enjoy your posts Shimon.

    • Yes Bob, the adults do care for the pups and it is rare that I see the little ones without an adult watching over them. Eventually I did see a couple of adults watching the antics of the young. They are bigger than prairie dogs. But as you say, are found as in Africa, and I’ve seen them teaching their young in a sort of group arrangement. It is said that they are related to the elephant. Thanks for your comment, Bob.

  5. A beautiful tree. I think I have seen these trees in S. CA.
    Wonderful photos, Mr. Shimon.

    • It’s amazing how trees and animals eventually get to all parts of the world on the trail of human beings, Amy. I’ve heard that they can’t always live peacefully together, which is a sad thought… but there’s no way but to go forward. Lets hope for peace among vegetation, animals… and most of all for humans. Thanks.

  6. What a beautiful tree, Shimon! Thank you for the photos and for the one of the adorable hyraxes! It sounds like a lovely day for you and Chana!

    • It was a very beautiful day Kitty. The puppy hyraxes are cuter and a lot more attractive than the adults, but it is always a great pleasure to visit with them. It was a lovely day. Thanks so much.

  7. What a beautiful flowering tree. I don’t believe I have ever seen that tree before, It’s amazing what we see when we take the time to be observant.

    • I’ve seen these trees for quite a few years now, and they always stuck out as being different from all the vegetation I’m used to. But it was only lately that I learned they came all the way from China. Thanks, Bev.

  8. Numerous treats in this post. Picture of you and Chana along with beautiful Chinese lanterns and the really sweet hyraxes. They really are the loveliest little things. Looks like you had a really good day and I might add you look very well indeed. Janet x

  9. What an amazing tree! Quite beautiful Shimon. Thanks for sharing it. Love your photos

  10. What a beautiful tree, exquisite lanterns.!! I loved the hyraxes, I do hope to see them one day! How curious they look. Wonderful picture of you, and oh, what a glorious blue

    • I think you would appreciate the differences that one can see between you pups and the adults among the hyraxes. There seemed to ba a lot of them this time with minimal adult supervision, and I could see they were feeling very free. You would have enjoyed it. As for the blue skies, we are lucky that we do get them fairly often in winter here. But on the other hand, we don’t get enough rain. My best to you, Dina xxx

  11. 💗 with hugs, dear Shimon. Lovely pictures. Xxx

  12. Interesting post and images Shimon.

  13. Gorgeous!!! Both the pictures of the animals, the Flame Tree pods and the bipeds. How lovely to have such a delightful tree to observe and enjoy.

  14. What a beautiful tree!
    And the hyraxes look so sweet…

  15. Beautiful and exotic! New creatures and trees to me.

  16. It is really hard to pronounce and also to remember this name “Koelreuteria bipinnata”…. In my language we call them lantern tree too… Beautiful tree…
    How nice to see them in the city…. I loved your photographs dear Shimon, it seems that it was a wonderful day. Thank you, Love, nia

    • Yes, it was a very good day. Just this last Thursday, I went out in similar circumstances, but because it was raining, didn’t get much in the way of photography. Thanks so much for your kind comment, Nia.

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