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Styphnolobium japonicum

Previously known as:

  • Sophora japonica
Phonetic Spelling
styf-noh-LOH-bee-um juh-PON-ih-kum
Description

The pagoda tree is native of China and Korea where it can be found growing in abundance in thickets and upland forests along rocky mountain slopes.  The common name Japanese Pagoda comes from it being planted on the grounds surrounding Buddhist temples.  

A showy flowering tree in the pea family  It produces light shade; withstands heat, air pollution, and drought; leguminous; good street, park, or lawn tree.  

It can take up to 10 years before a sapling will flower. Normally 30-40 years are needed for its best flowering.  This heat specimen will flower at its showiest after experiencing a hot summer.  

Its showy leaves remain green on the tree late into the fall, thereby shortening the length of time for its fall color.  

The showy, fragrant flowers appear on 12" long by 12" wide panicles.  They are showy both blooming on the tree and when they drop you have a showy blanket of white on the ground.  

When grown in the open, it has a tendency to branch low to the ground.  However, with proper care, it can formed to grow into a tall specimen with an erect trunk.

Its timber is durable, and is used in both construction and for furniture making.  

The pods have been used to produce yellow and gray dyes for use in the silk industry.

Quick ID

  • Spiny, coriaceous leaves
  • Leaf apex spinose, pointing downward
  • Lateral spines near leaf apex resemble bullhorns

Previously known as Sophora japonica

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  

Although there are no serious insect or disease issues, leaf hoppers can be a problem.  Rust, powdery mildew, blight, canker and verticillium wilt can affect the tree.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Halka', 'Pendula', 'Regent'
Tags:
#fragrant#showy flowers#shade tree#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#large tree#fall interest#flowering tree#air pollution tolerant#street tree#dye plant#deer resistant#children's garden#playground plant#long lifespan#pollinator plant#fantz#parks#deciduous tree#lawn planting#broadleaf
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Halka', 'Pendula', 'Regent'
Tags:
#fragrant#showy flowers#shade tree#fragrant flowers#heat tolerant#large tree#fall interest#flowering tree#air pollution tolerant#street tree#dye plant#deer resistant#children's garden#playground plant#long lifespan#pollinator plant#fantz#parks#deciduous tree#lawn planting#broadleaf
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Styphnolobium
    Species:
    japonicum
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    A yellow dye can be obtained from the flower buds. Ancient Japanese prints used this dye.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China and Korea
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees are attracted to the flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Fragrance
    Pieces Used in Games
    Shade
    Dimensions:
    Height: 50 ft. 0 in. - 75 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 50 ft. 0 in. - 75 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Poisonous
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Broad
    Erect
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Medium
    Texture:
    Fine
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    The 3"-8" long, bean-like, pendulous pods contain 1 to 6 seeds. They remain on the tree through the winter months.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Irregular
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The small, pea like creamy white flowers are lightly fragrant. They appear on 6"-12" long and wide terminal panicles in mid to late summer. There are dull-white, male and female on different plants.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are alternate and pinnately compound up to 6"-10" long. Each leaf will contain 7 to 17 leaflets. Leaflets are ovate to lanceolate, 1"-2" long with entire margins, and rounded base acute apex. The short-lived fall color is a yellow.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Ridges
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Round
    Bark Description:
    Gray-brown developing into flat plates
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Young stems to age 4 are green.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Flowering Tree
    Screen/Privacy
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Heat
    Pollution
    Urban Conditions