How to grow Laburnum alpinum

Commonly known as the 'Scotch Laburnum', Laburnum alpinum is a small, broad-headed tree grown primarily for its long, drooping racemes of fragrant blooms. As with so many garden plants the common name is misleading as Laburnum alpinum is not indigenous to Scotland. It is in fact a native to Central and Southern Europe, although it is a species which has naturalized in Scotland. The 'Golden Rain' or 'Golden Chain' tree are also used as common names and arguably far more appropriate.

 Laburnum alpinum
Laburnum alpinum has been under cultivation in Britain since around 1560 and was originally named Cytisus alpinum by Scottish botanist and former Curator of Chelsea Physic Garden, Phillip Miller (1691 – 1771). In 1830, it was reclassified and listed in the Laburnum genus by Bohemian natural scientist Jan Svatopluk Presl (1791–1849).

Depending on conditions you can expect Laburnum alpinum to achieve a height of between 5-7 metres, with a width of 3-5 metres. The leaves are trifoliate, a deep, shining mid-green on the surface, yet paler and slightly hairy underneath.

The panicles of vanilla scented, pea-like, bright-yellow flowers are borne from late May to early June and can be up to 30 cm long. Once pollinated, flattened, glabrous and glossy seed pods seedpods appear.

Laburnum alpinum will perform best in a well-drained, loamy soil but it will also tolerates heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils if needed. It will grow in either semi-shaded position or full sun, however it will always produce a better flowering display in full sun. It can withstand surprisingly strong winds once established although staking will be required for young specimens in exposed position. That being said has a history of performing poorly in coastal regions.

Warning. All parts of the plant, and especially the seed, are poisonous!

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