There aren't many Laburnum trees around Exeter - at least not in public green spaces and parks. The main reason for this is all parts of the tree are poisonous. Typically you will see these lovely little trees in private gardens. As they remain a small tree throughout their life they are well suited as a feature tree in the middle of a lawn. Laburnum was introduced into the UK in 1560 and became a popular choice of tree up until thr 1970's. Due to several poisonings (mainly young people) Laburnum soon developed a bad reputation and many people removed thier trees. As it turns out Laburnum isn't as toxic as people originally thought (in comparison to Common Yew, Deadly Nightshade or Hemlock). In the right place this little tree can make a big impact with it's beautiful show of bright yellow flowers and it's interesting clover shaped leaves. Bees and other insect pollinators love the flowers as well.
Laburnum is deciduous tree and typically remains as a small tree throughout it's life. The typical lifespan is up to 50 years. They are native to the mountains of southern Europe from France to the Balkans but do very well in the UK - particularly the South West. After 15 years the tree is considered as being fully mature and should have flowered and procuded seeds several times. Laburnum is also known as the Golden Chain tree due to the long yellow chains of flowers. It is a member of the pea family (Fabaceae) and the young seed pods do resemble the typical pea like pods.
The bark is fairly smooth and has a greenish hue. The lenticles are like small orange coloured diamonds on older trees
The twigs are quite knobbly and the buds are covered in small white hairs
The bark is fairly smooth even on older trees. Up close the bark has a greenish hue and the lenticles are like small orange coloured diamonds making it a very attractive bark. The branches and twigs are very knobbly and from a distance look a bit like wiggly worms! The buds are very pretty and covered in soft white hairs. The leaves are very unusual and add even more interest to this lovely little tree. They are trifoliate which means 3 leaflets per leaf and look a bit like clover leaves. The leaves are a dull green from May to August and during the Autumn they mainly fade to yellow. At the right time you can see the green veins amongst the yellow leaves and this is very pretty.
Laburmum typically doesn't exceed 7 metres in height and requires very little maintenance
During May the bright yellow flowers are in full bloom. The type of flowers are called a racemes
The flowers of Laburnum are the main talking point of this tree and for very good reason. For a good 3 - 4 weeks they will transform the landscape with an explosion of yellow dangling flowers called racemes. The best time to see Laburnum in flower is usually late April through to May. The flowers are pollinated by insects and on a hot summers day they will be covered by many types of bees and flies. The yellow flowers mature into green seed pods and these eventually turn into hard seed pods. The seeds are considered the most toxic part of the tree - mainly because of how easy they are to eat,
The leaves are often referred to as being clover like. They are trifoliate and each leaflet is about 3cm to 8cm long
The seedpods usually contain up to 10 seeds and are classed as the most toxic part of the tree