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Sophora chrysophylla flowers and leaves
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Sophoreae
Genus: Sophora
L. (1753)
Type species
Sophora tomentosa

59–116; see text

  • Ammothamnus Bunge (1847)
  • Cephalostigmaton (Yakovlev) Yakovlev (1967)
  • Echinosophora Nakai (1923)
  • Edwardsia Salisb. (1808)
  • Edwarsia Dumort. (1829), orth. var.
  • Goebelia Bunge ex Boiss. (1872)
  • Keyserlingia Bunge ex Boiss. (1872)
  • Patrinia Raf. (1819), nom. illeg.
  • Pseudosophora (DC.) Sweet (1830), nom. superfl.
  • Radiusia Rchb. (1828)
  • Vexibia Raf. (1825)
  • Vibexia Raf. (1832)
  • Zanthyrsis Raf. (1838)

Sophora is a genus of about 45 species of small trees and shrubs in the pea family Fabaceae. The species have a pantropical distribution.[4][5] The generic name is derived from sophera, an Arabic name for a pea-flowered tree.[6]

The genus formerly had a broader interpretation including many other species now treated in other genera, notably Styphnolobium (pagoda tree genus), which differs in lacking nitrogen fixing bacteria (rhizobia) on the roots, and Dermatophyllum (the mescalbeans). Styphnolobium has galactomannans as seed polysaccharide reserve, in contrast Sophora contains arabinogalactans, and Dermatophyllum amylose.

The New Zealand Sophora species are known as kowhai.[7]

The seeds of species such as Sophora affinis and Sophora chrysophylla are reported to be poisonous.[8]

Fossil record[edit]

One Sophora fossil seed pod from the middle Eocene epoch has been described from the Miller clay pit in Henry County, Tennessee, United States.[9]


Sophora comprises the following species:[2][7][10][11][12][13][14][15][16]

Species names with uncertain taxonomic status[edit]

The status of the following species is unresolved:[16]

  • Sophora angustifolia Q.Q.Liu & H.Y.Ye
  • Sophora biflora Houtt.
  • Sophora biflora Retz.
  • Sophora buxifolia Retz.
  • Sophora chathamica Cockayne
  • Sophora coerulea Moench
  • Sophora cuneifolia Steud.
  • Sophora davidii (Franch.) Skeels
  • Sophora donihuensis Ravenna
  • Sophora genistaefolia Salisb.
  • Sophora genistoides L.
  • Sophora glabra Moench
  • Sophora glabra Hassk.
  • Sophora godleyi Heenan & de Lange
  • Sophora grandiflora (Salisb.) Skottsb.
  • Sophora grisea O.Deg. & Sherff
  • Sophora hirsuta Aiton
  • Sophora houghiana Wall.
  • Sophora howinsula (W.R.B. Oliv.) P. Green
  • Sophora jabandas Montrouz.
  • Sophora juncea Schrad.
  • Sophora ludovice-Adecim-Asexta Buc'hoz
  • Sophora mangarevaensis H.St.John
  • Sophora mecosperma J.St.-Hil.
  • Sophora molloyi Heenan & de Lange
  • Sophora molokaiensis O. Degener & I. Degener
  • Sophora mutabilis Salisb.
  • Sophora myrtillifolia Retz.
  • Sophora oblongata P.C.Tsoong
  • Sophora oblongifolia Ruiz & Pav.
  • Sophora oligophylla Baker
  • Sophora pendula Spach
  • Sophora pentaphylla Desv.
  • Sophora persica (Boiss. & Buhse) Rech.f.
  • Sophora praetorulosa Chun & T.C. Chen
  • Sophora raivavaeensis H.St.John
  • Sophora rapaensis H.St.John
  • Sophora robinoides Walp.
  • Sophora senegalensis Deless. ex DC.
  • Sophora sibirica Holub
  • Sophora sinica Rosier
  • Sophora sinuata Larrañaga
  • Sophora sororia Hance
  • Sophora sumatrana Yakovlev
  • Sophora sylvatica Burch.
  • Sophora tetraptera J. Miller
  • Sophora tiloebsis Blume ex Miq.
  • Sophora tiloensis Blume ex Miq.
  • Sophora trifolia Steud.
  • Sophora triphylla Sweet
  • Sophora vanioti H. Lév.
  • Sophora vestita Nakai
  • Sophora viciifolis Hance


  1. ^ "Sophora L." TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  2. ^ a b Sophora L. Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 8 August 2023.
  3. ^ "Genus: Sophora L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2006-11-03. Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
  4. ^ "PLANTS Profile Sophora nuttalliana B.L. Turner silky sophora". USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
  5. ^ "PLANTS Profile Sophora tomentosa L.yellow necklacepod". USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
  6. ^ Gledhill, D. (2008). The Names of Plants (4th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 356. ISBN 978-0-521-86645-3.
  7. ^ a b Heenan PB, de Lange PJ, Wilton AD (2001). "Sophora (Fabaceae) in New Zealand: taxonomy, distribution, and biogeography". New Zealand J Bot. 39 (1): 17–53. doi:10.1080/0028825X.2001.9512715.
  8. ^ Little, Elbert L. (1980). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region. New York: Knopf. p. 529. ISBN 0-394-50760-6.
  9. ^ The Fossil History of Leguminosae from the Eocene of Southeastern North America by Patrick S. Herendeen, Advances in Legume Systematics: Part 4, The Fossil Record, Ed. P.S. Herendeen & Dilcher, 1992, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, ISBN 0 947643 40 0
  10. ^ Tsoong P-C, Ma C-Y (1981). "A study on the genus Sophora Linn" (PDF). Acta Phytotaxon Sin. 19 (1): 1–22.
  11. ^ Tsoong P-C, Ma C-Y (1981). "A study on the genus Sophora Linn. (Cont.)" (PDF). Acta Phytotaxon Sin. 19 (2): 143–167.
  12. ^ Hurr KA, Lockhart PJ, Heenan PB, Penny D (1999). "Evidence for the recent dispersal of Sophora (Leguminosae) around the Southern Oceans: molecular data". J Biogeogr. 26 (3): 565–577. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2699.1999.00302.x. JSTOR 2656144. S2CID 84721754.
  13. ^ Michell AB, Heenan PB (2002). "Sophora sect. Edwardsia (Fabaceae): further evidence from nrDNA sequence data of a recent and rapid radiation around the Southern Oceans". Bot J Linn Soc. 140 (4): 435–441. doi:10.1046/j.1095-8339.2002.00101.x.
  14. ^ Staff writer(s); no by-line. "ILDIS LegumeWeb entry for Sophora". International Legume Database & Information Service. Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics. Retrieved 18 May 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ USDA; ARS; National Genetic Resources Program. "GRIN species records of Sophora". Germplasm Resources Information Network—(GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  16. ^ a b "The Plant List entry for Sophora". The Plant List. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden. 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  17. ^ Heenan PB (2001). "The correct name for Chilean pelú (Fabaceae): the identity of Edwardsia macnabiana and the reinstatement of Sophora cassioides". New Zealand J Bot. 39 (1): 167–170. doi:10.1080/0028825X.2001.9512725.
  18. ^ English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 450. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.

External links[edit]