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Styphnolobium japonicum

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Styphnolobium japonicum

Styphnolobium japonicum
Styphnolobium japonicum tree
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Sophoreae
Genus: Styphnolobium
Species: S. japonicum
Binomial name
Styphnolobium japonicum
(L.) Schott[1][2]
Synonyms

Styphnolobium japonicum (L.) Schott, the Pagoda Tree (Chinese Scholar, Japanese pagoda tree; syn. Sophora japonica) is a species of tree in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae.

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.

Distribution

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 into a lofty tree 10–20 m tall with an equal spread, and produces a fine, dark brown timber.

Styphnolobium japonicum leaves and flowers

Uses

Gardening

The Guilty Chinese Scholartree was a historic Pagoda Tree in Beijing, on which the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Chongzhen, hanged himself.

Traditional medicine

S. japonicum (Chinese: ; pinyin: huái; formerly Sophora japonica) is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Construction uses

Used to make the strong, springy curved "enju wood" handle used on the traditional Japanese woodworking adze, called the chouna.[3][4]

Medicinal properties

It has abortifacient, antibacterial, anticholesterolemic, antiinflammatory, antispasmodic, diuretic, emetic, emollient, febrifuge, hypotensive, purgative, styptic, and tonic properties.[5]

Chemistry

S. japonicum contains the isoflavone glycoside sophoricoside.

Chinese etymology

The Chinese name for the tree (槐) is composed of the word 木 ("wood") and 鬼 ("demon"). In folklore, it is said that a cowherd once built a home out of this species of tree, and within a month his entire family was suddenly found dead, with no signs of foul play. It was therefore believed that demons are drawn to this tree and it is therefore not appropriate to use its wood to build homes. In addition, in the wild, other species of tree rarely grow near it.

References

Footnotes

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^
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  5. ^

General references

  • 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.

External links

  • Sophora japonica
  • "Chinese Scholar Tree"
  • The Evil God in the Pagoda Tree Japanese folktale with the Pagoda Tree at hyakumonogatari.com
  • Beautiful axes, Japanese carpentry tools in Europe
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