Rather unhelpfully, the Pride of India tree comes from China (where it has often been a symbol used to mark the graves of scholars). Equally confusingly, its other common name, Goldenrain tree, is shared with Laburnum; so I tend to stick with the Latin - Koelreuteria paniculata.
Koelreuteria is another tree that has to be on the short list for smaller sunny gardens. It has attractive foliage, provides a striking mid-summer floral display, and has fiery autumn colour.
It belongs to the Soapberry family (Sapindaceae) which has lately been expanded to include the Maples and Horse Chestnuts. It is hardy, tolerates a wide range of soils, drought and air pollution, making it suitable for many locations - including as a street tree. The wood is quite brittle though and some shelter can help. The tree was introduced in 1763 and is said to have first been cultivated in Croombe, in Worcestershire. It is named after J. G. Koelreuter, a professor of botany at Karlsruhe (1733-1806).
The tree can attain 30 - 60 feet in height and can be rather gaunt in habit when young, becoming more compact with age.
The phytochemistry of Koelreuteria paniculata is known to be quite diverse and it has a medicinal reputation that includes antioxidant and anti-tumor activity.
The tolerance of Koelreuteria to a wide range of conditions and its ability to set viable seed mean that it is becoming invasive in Florida and Hawaii where it can out-compete native vegetation. Who knows, a touch more global warming and it will begin a march through our woodlands?