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Japanese Pagoda Tree

Sophora japonica

Leaves: Deciduous. Compound leaves are 6 to 10 inches long, with 7 to 17 oval leaflets. Leaflets are 1 to 2 inches long, ½ as wide, rounded at base, with a smooth leaf edge. Bright medium green color. Green color holds late and little fall color develops, on occasion soft yellow fall color.

Bark/Twigs: Pale gray-brown bark, deeply furrowed into cris-crossing scaly ridges. Green-grayish on younger twigs.

Flowers/Fruit: Showy flowers are creamy-white, pea-like, and mildly fragrant. Each is flower ½ inch long and bell-shaped. Borne in very attractive, large, loose, 6 to 12 inch long and wide bunches in July to early August. Fruit is a bright green, changing to yellow-brown, 3 to 8 inch long legume pod. Each pod contains 3 to 6 brown seeds and is constricted between each seed. May remain on tree all winter.

Mature size and shape: Large. 50 to 75 feet high with a comparable spread. Rounded shape. Upright-spreading with a broadly rounded crown at maturity. Casts a light shade.

General information/special features: Plant in full sun. Shade intolerant. Prefers rich, moist, well-drained soils.  Once established can somewhat withstand heat and drought. Tolerant of pollution.

Landscape use and maintenance: Shade tree. Medium to fast growing rate. High maintenance. Seeds are messy and tree is often twiggy. Prune in fall.

USDA Hardiness Zone:

Family/Origin: Fabaceae – Legume. Native to China and Korea.

Campus Use: Somewhat common. The tree west of the William Stewart Building (Bld 6) is on the Utah Big Tree Registry.

Last Updated: 6/3/22