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Styphnolobium japonicum (Sophora japonica) - Japanese Pagoda Tree

Styphnolobium japonicum was formerly included within a broader interpretation of the genus Sophora. The species of Styphnolobium differ from Sophora in lacking the ability to form symbioses with rhizobia (nitrogen fixing bacteria) on their roots.

Despite the common name (Japanese pagoda tree) for the Styphnolobium japonicum, the tree originated in China and was introduced to the UK in 1753 and won the Award of Garden Merit in 2002.

The tree is an interesting and splendid specimen that has a rapid growth rate, and will flourish in a sheltered sunny position. The tree can also be a suitable tree for polluted areas.

Styphnolobium japonicum has compound leaves that give the tree the light and airy apprearance, once the tree reaches maturity it produces yellow-white, pea–like flowers that hang in racemes. During the autumn the seed pods appear and are held on throughout the winter.

FACT: Styphnolobium japonicum is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine.
FACT: There is a tree standing in Beijing known as the Guilty Pagoda tree, it was named this after the last ruler of the Ming Dynasty, Chongzhen was said to have hung himself in 1644. The tree was then considered guilty for allowing the death of the emperor.
FACT: The tree had many practical uses, the wood is strong and flexible and a tea can be made from the bark, the Chinese believed it would be useful to stop bleeding and curing burns.

Plant Profile

Name: Styphnolobium japonicum (Sophora japonica)

Common Name: Japanese Pagoda Tree

Family: Fabaceae

Height: 15-18m

Width: 12-15m

Demands: Full sun, with well-drained Chalk, Loam or Sandy soil

Foliage: Deciduous, pinnate leaves

Flowers: White or Pink

Fruit: Pea-like flowers in panicles in summer and autumn

Styphnolobium japonicum info sheet