Golden Chain tree (Laburnum)

Entrance to Sehome Hill across from the ES Building. Map

Located near the "no bicycles" sign at the entrance to Sehome Arboretum. In season this tree erupts in golden yellow "chains" of pea-like flowers. Laburnum is a near relative of the pea.

Two characteristics assist in identification: it has a compound leaf composed of three nearly identical pointed leaflets, and its distinctive chain-like pods filled with pea-sized seeds. The resemblance to edible pole beans or peas left too long on the stalk is unmistakable. However, it is important to note that Golden Chain "peas" are poisonous, and have been known to be fatal. The rhyme used to warn children of the danger of poison oak ("leaves of three, let it be") applies equally to Laburnum.

Golden Chain trees are native to the mountains of southern Europe. In the Pacific Northwest they have invaded the wilds and prospered. The examples pictured here are growing wild along the edge of the forest of native trees covering Sehome Hill.