Golden Rain Tree

by Fran Lindberg  07/2007

You may recognize the initials “GRF” which stands for “Golden Rain Foundation.” Perhaps you wonder where the term “golden rain” originated. It can be credited to the poetic side of Ross Cortese, the developer of Leisure World Laguna Hills [known today as Laguna Woods Village].

The golden rain tree is a fast-growing, deciduous tree reaching about 30 feet in height. At maturity, it has a rounded crown, with a spread equal to or greater than the height. Its leaves give it an overall lacy appearance. The leaves turn yellow before falling. The golden rain tree is perhaps most striking in the fall with its large clusters of bright yellow flowers that hang from the drooping branches and appear to be “golden rain.” These are followed by two-inch red-purple seed pods, which are equally dramatic!

Cortese first saw the golden rain tree in New Orleans. After he learned that these trees could thrive in California, he ordered 2,700 trees sent to a nursery in Chino where they were nurtured until they were ready to be planted in Leisure World Seal Beach. Thus, it became the symbol of the communities he was planning for senior citizens.

The name Golden Rain Foundation was given to the corporation at the center of government and management at Leisure World Seal Beach and then carried over to Laguna Hills.

As of 2007, there were approximately 86 golden rain trees inside Laguna Woods Village. The oldest is at Carport 111 across from 117 Via Estrada.