Sophora microphylla

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Sophora microphylla
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Sophoreae
Genus: Sophora
Species: S. microphylla
Binomial name
Sophora microphylla
Sophora microphylla - MHNT

Sophora microphylla (common name kōwhai) is a species of flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to New Zealand. Growing to 8 m (26 ft) tall and broad, it is an evergreen shrub or small tree. Each leaf is 10 cm (4 in) long with up to 40 pairs of shiny oval leaflets. In early spring it produces many racemes of pea-like yellow flowers.[1]

Other common names include weeping kōwhai and small-leaved kōwhai. It is also referred to as South Island Kowhai although this name is misleading since it is widely distributed all over New Zealand including the North Island, though less common in Northland.

The specific epithet microphylla means "small-leaved".[2] S. microphylla has smaller leaves (around 3–6 mm long by 2–5 mm wide) and flowers (1.8-5.0 cm long),[3] than the other well known species large-leaved kōwhai.

When young S. microphylla has a divaricating and bushy growth habit with many interlacing branches, which begins to disappear as the tree ages.[4]

The cultivar Sun King 'Hilsop' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964. 
  2. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. p. 224. ISBN 9781845337315. 
  3. ^ "S. microphylla description". New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Facts about kōwhai". Department of Conservation. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Sophora microphylla". Retrieved 4 July 2013.