Sophora (Styphnolobium) japonica

Japanese Pagodatree, Scholar Tree




  • native to China and Korea
  • hardy to zone 5

Habit and Form

  • a deciduous medium to large tree
  • reaches 40' to 60' tall
  • spread equals height
  • rounded shape
  • branching is upright and spreading and eventually nearly arching over

Summer Foliage

  • alternate, pinnately compound leaves
  • leaves are 6" to 10" long
  • possess 7 to 17 leaflets
  • each leaflet is 1" to 2" long
  • leaflets mature from bright to dark green
  • leaflets are lustrous
  • casts light shade

Autumn Foliage

  • no fall color
  • leaves drop green or yellow-green


  • pale yellow to creamy white
  • pea-like
  • hang in 6" to 12" long clusters
  • bloom time is August
  • slightly fragrant


  • a 3" to 8" green pod
  • a loment, with constriction between each seed like a string of beads
  • green pods turn yellow and eventually brown in October; somewhat persistent


  • twigs and branches are smooth and olive green with prominent tan lenticels
  • bark on the trunk is furrowed into rounded, interlacing ridges
  • color is light gray-brown


  • full sun
  • grows best in moist, fertile, well-drained soil
  • tolerant of pollution
  • plants less than 1.5" in caliper are especially prone to winter injury

Landscape Use

  • lawn tree
  • street tree
  • urban conditions
  • parks
  • campuses
  • for flowering effect
  • turf grows well beneath due to light shade


  • twig kill in severe winters
  • canker that is made worse by cold injury
  • can be messy due to dropped petals, fruit, and leaves

ID Features

  • olive-green bark on stems and young branches with raised tan lenticels
  • fleshy, greenish pod as a fruit with constrictions between seeds
  • upright wide spreading habit
  • pea-like flowers
  • terminal infructescence persists


  • cuttings are bud grafted
  • by seed


'Columnaris' (also known as 'Fastigiata') and 'Princeton Upright' - These selections are all notable for their upright branching habit that is taller than wide.

'Pendula' - A strongly weeping form, this selection is useful as an accent plant due to its flowing, pendulous branches that are elegant with age. The smooth green stems are showy during the winter. This form rarely flowers and grows 15' to 25' tall with age. It is often grafted on a standard.

'Regent' - This superior form is probably the most common selection in commerce. It grows more quickly to form a broad-rounded crown to 50' tall. It reportedly begins to flower earlier than seedlings, plus the foliage is glossy and handsome. It has performed well in urban, polluted areas.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

The digital materials (images and text) available from the UConn Plant Database are protected by copyright. Public use via the Internet for non-profit and educational purposes is permitted. Use of the materials for profit is prohibited.

Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.