Laburnum tree identification                                                  

The Common Laburnum Laburnum anagyroides , also known as the Golden Chain tree because of its cascades of yellow flowers, is a small tree or shrub native to the mountains of central and southern Europe. It was introduced to Britain in 1560 and is now one of the most commonly planted ornamental trees. It is a member of the Pea Family and so has yellow pea-like flowers in spring and pods that bear poisonous seeds in autumn. 

The tree you will see in most gardens is a hybrid of the Scots Laburnum and the Common Laburnum called Voss’s Laburnum. It has very few seedpods and so there are fewer poisonous seeds to spread around. 

The Laburnum is a member of the Fabaceae family, which used to be known as the Leguminosae family. The pods, typical of this family, are called legumes. The family includes ornamental trees such as the False Acacia, the Judas Tree, the Honey Locust and the Kentucky Coffee Tree.

Tree in flower in late April.

The leaf is trifoliate. Each leaflet is from 3 to 8 cm long.

The flowers hang down in cascades in spring.

The fruit is in the form of pods which split to release the poisonous seeds. Photo taken in September.

Close-up of a bud, in winter, covered in white hairs.