|Japanese pagoda tree|
|Styphnolobium japonicum tree|
It 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. It also differs from the related genus Calia (mescalbeans) in having deciduous leaves and flowers in axillary, not terminal, racemes. The leaves are alternate, pinnate, with 9–21 leaflets, and the flowers in pendulous racemes similar to those of the black locust.
Styphnolobium japonicum is native to China; despite the name, it was introduced in Japan. It is a popular ornamental tree in Europe, North America and South Africa, grown for its white flowers, borne in late summer after most other flowering trees have long finished flowering. It grows to 10–20 m tall with an equal spread, and produces a fine, dark brown timber.
The flowers and leaves are sometimes used for teas, such as by families in Laoshan Village, Shandong Province, China. It counts as a variety of herbal tea.
The wood is used to make the strong, springy curved "enju wood" handle used on the traditional Japanese woodworking adze, called the chouna. Pagoda wood is very hard after drying. This makes pagoda products durable and long lasting. The pagoda tree trunk is generally composed of alternating ridges of light-brown outside layers and gray brown inside layers. This makes wood carving products, for example from the Hokkaido native Ainu people, very decorative. The Ainu are famous for their "Blackstone fish owl" carvings.
The dried flower buds may contain as much as 20% rutin with some quercetin. S. japonicum dried fruit contains the flavonoid glycosides sophoricoside, genistin and rutin and the flavonoid aglycones genistein, quercetin and kaempferol. Another analysis found genistein and genistein glycosides including sophorabioside, sophoricoside, genistein-7-diglucoside, genistein-7-diglucorhamnoside, and kaempferol and the kaempferol glycosides kaempferol-3-sophoroside and kaempferol-3-rhamnodiglucoside. The fruit also contain the alkaloids cytisine, N-methylcytisine, sophocarpine, matrine and stizolamine.
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- The relationship of Sophora sect. Edwardsia (Fabaceae) to Sophora tomentosa, the type species of the genus Sophora, observed from DNA sequence data and morphological characters. Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 146: 439–446 (2004). Available online.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Styphnolobium japonicum.|
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- The Evil God in the Pagoda Tree Japanese folktale with the pagoda tree at hyakumonogatari.com
- Beautiful axes, Japanese carpentry tools in Europe