Trees You Should Meet: Cassia Leptophylla – Gold Medallion Tree

Meet the Cassia leptophylla, commonly known as the Gold Medallion Tree, this medium size tree features large fragrant blooms making it very popular in parkways and front  yards. (all photos by Emina Darakjy)


Editor’s Note: This week we are delighted to introduce Emina Darakjy, our newest Buzz contributor, writing on trees. Earlier this week, the neighborhood lost a mature street tree, so it seemed like a good time to introduce readers to trees that would do well in our neighborhood, so we can encourage the planting of more trees.


Cassia Leptophylla – Gold Medallion Tree
Family: Fabaceae


The Gold Medallion tree is native to the tropical forests of southern Brazil. It’s a small-to-medium-size evergreen tree but can become deciduous when temperatures are in the 25-30°F range. The tree can reach a height of 20 to 30 feet, with an open crown and a 25-30 foot wide spreading canopy. Its branches are droopy with dense dark green foliage consisting of pinnately divided leaves with 1-2” long leaflets, making it a good shade tree. The trunk is gray-brown and furrowed.



In the summer, this gorgeous looking tree is covered with clusters of very large flowers, with each resembling a bouquet that tends to hang on the tree for a long time. The flowers are bright yellow, showy and fragrant. The bees and butterflies love them.

In the fall, after the tree is finished flowering, long, thin, bean-like seed pods, up to 2 feet long, dangle from the tree. The pods are green at first, turning brown and woody later. The seeds are non-edible.


The tree does not require much maintenance, but would benefit from a good pruning when young to help it develop a strong trunk and branches, as well as for sidewalk clearance — especially when planted as a street tree. The tree is considered drought tolerant and is fast growing. It does better in the sun and in a well-drained soil. At the present time, there are no known serious diseases affecting this tree, and damage to sidewalks from this tree’s roots is very low.

This tree is a good candidate for residential landscaping, as a street tree, or in a park. We have the Los Angeles County Arboretum to thank for introducing it in 1958.

I am noticing this tree everywhere I go now, and there is a good reason for that, as when in bloom this spectacular looking tree brings a smile to everyone’s face and shouts “Hello Sunshine.”


The Los Angeles County Arboretum introduced the Gold Medallion tree in 1958. (all photos by Emina Darakjy)


Emina Darakjy is a past president of Pasadena Beautiful and its current “Tree Program Chair.” Darakjy says she has always had a passion for trees and is also involved with several other tree organizations, including California Re-Leaf, the Arbor Day Foundation, and American Forests. She is a past president of Street Tree Seminar Inc. and the current president of the California Urban Forests Council.

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2 thoughts on “Trees You Should Meet: Cassia Leptophylla – Gold Medallion Tree

  1. Thanks to the Buzz for starting a tree column! Super exciting, and we need this! I am sure that many of your readers are in neighborhoods with public and private spaces for big trees in the ground — and this benefits everyone. My backyard has a Golden Medallion — definitely has some exotic features … the branching, odd leafing-out schedule, pods that weigh down the branches and change the shape of the tree. Any ideas on what to do with the pods on the ground? Mulch? Squirrel food? Art project?

    1. Dear Ann, I am glad you like this new feature.

      The pods contains bean like seeds that are non-edible and in fact reported to be poisonous. Because of the hard nature of the pods they are not going to decompose easily so they are not suitable for mulching.

      You can use them in dry flower arrangements or just gather and dispose of them when they fall on the ground.

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