This is one in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Community Favorites, 75 can't-fail, easy-care plants well-adapted to our region and recommended by local gardeners.
Formosan flame tree
Koelreuteria elegans subsp. formosana
Size: 20 to 40 feet tall
Bloom season: Late summer, fall
Exposure: Full sun
Pruning needs: Little or none; prune to shape in winter
Water needs: Once established, water deeply once or twice a month
Snapshot: This Asian shade tree adds a tropical note to drought- tolerant gardens, along with lots of fall color. In early autumn, it boasts broad clusters of bright yellow flowers, followed by large coral-red seedpods that look like lipstick-colored ping-pong balls. Besides offering its unusual beauty, this flame tree is adaptable to various soils and watering schedules. You can see specimens in the arboretum's East Asian Collection on the UC Davis campus.
it's a favorite: "This gorgeous tropical-looking tree celebrates late summer and fall first as a cloud of yellow flowers, and then as a party with thousands of red balloons," said Warren Roberts, the arboretum's superintendent emeritus.
See a photo gallery of the Community Favorites online at www.sacbee.com/home_garden.