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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids I
Ordo: Fabales

Familia: Fabaceae
Subfamilia: Faboideae
Tribus: Sophoreae
Genus: Sophora
Sectiones: S. sect. Disamaea – S. sect. Edwardsia – S. sect. Pseudosophora – S. sect. Sophora

Species: S. albescens – S. albopetiolulata – S. alopecuroides – S. bakeri – S. benthamii – S. brachygyna – S. cassioides – S. chathamica – S. chrysophyllaS. davidii – S. denudata – S. dunnii – S. exigua – S. fernandeziana – S. flavescens – S. franchetiana – S. fraseri – S. fulvida – S. gibbosa – S. godleyi – S. howinsula – S. huamotensis – S. inhambanensis – S. interrupta – S. jaubertii – S. koreensis – S. leachiana – S. lehmanni – S. linearifolia – S. longicarinata – S. longipes – S. macnabiana – S. macrocarpa – S. mangarevaensis – S. masafuerana – S. microcarpa – S. microphylla – S. mollis – S. molloyi – S. moorcroftiana – S. nuttalliana – S. oblongata – S. pachycarpa – S. praetorulosa – S. prazeri – S. prostrata – S. raivavaeensis – S. rapaensis – S. reedeana – S. rhynchocarpa – S. saxicola – S. songorica – S. stenophylla – S. tetraptera – S. tomentosaS. tonkinensis – S. toromiro – S. velutinaS. violacea – S. wightii – S. xanthoantha – S. yunnanensis – S. zeylanica


Sophora L., 1753

Type species: S. tomentosa L.


Ammothamnus Bunge, Arbeiten Naturf. Vereins Riga 1: 213. 1847.
Type species: A. lehmannii Bunge
Cephalostigmaton (Yakovlev) Yakovlev, Vopr. Farmakogn. 4: 47. 1967.
Type species: C. tonkinense (Gagnep.) Yakovlev
Echinosophora Nakai, Bot. Mag. (Tokyo) 37: 33. 1923.
Type species: E. koreensis (Nakai) Nakai
Edwardsia Salisb., Trans. Linn. Soc. London 9: 298. 1808.
Type species: E. chrysophylla Salisb.
Goebelia Bunge ex Boiss., Fl. Orient. 2: 628. 1872.
Type species: G. alopecuroides (L.) Bunge ex Boiss.
Keyserlingia Bunge ex Boiss., Fl. Orient. (Boissier) 2: 629. 1872 or 1873.
Type species: non design.
Patrinia Raf., J. Phys. Chim. Hist. Nat. Arts 89: 97. 1819, nom. illeg. non Juss. (1807) nom. cons.
Type species: P. sericea (Nutt.) Raf.
Pseudosophora (DC.) Sweet, Hortus Brit. ed. 2. 122. 1830.
Type species: P. alopecuroides (L.) Sweet
Radiusia Rchb., Consp. 148. 1829.
Type species: R. alopecuroides (L.) Rchb. ex Steud.
Vexibia Raf., Neogenyton 3. 1825.
Type species: V. sericea (Nutt.) Raf.
Zanthyrsis Raf., New Fl. 3: 84. 1838.
Type species: Z. paniculata Raf.

Note: A revised infrageneric classification of Sophora is still required, as there is considerable discrepancy in rank and species composition between the classification schemes of Yakovlev (1967) and Tsoong & Ma (1981), in addition numerous monotypic ranks are not very helpful (Heenan et al. 2004).

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum 1: 373.
Heenan, P.B. 2001. The correct name for Chilean pelu (Fabaceae): The identity of Edwardsia macnabiana and the reinstatement of Sophora cassioides. New Zealand Journal of Botany 39(1): 167–170. DOI: 10.1080/0028825X.2001.9512725 PDF. Reference page.
Heenan, P.B., Dawson, M.I. & Wagstaff, S.J. 2004. 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. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 146(4): 439-446. DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8339.2004.00348.x Reference page.
Lee, S.T., Cook, D., Molyneux, R.J., Davis, T.Z. & Gardner, D.R. 2013. Alkaloid profiles of Dermatophyllum arizonicum, Dermatophyllum gypsophilum, Dermatophyllum secundiflorum, Styphnolobium affine, and Styphnolobium japonicum previously classified as Sophora species. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 49: 87-93. DOI: 10.1016/j.bse.2013.03.018 Reference page.
Tsoong P. & Ma, C. 1981. A study on the genus Sophora Linn. (cont.). Acta Phytotaxonomica Sinica 19: 143–167.
Yakovlev, G.P. 1967. Systematical and geographical studies of the genus Sophora L. & allied genera. Trudy Leningradskogo Khimiko – Farmatsevticheskogo Instituta 21: 42–62.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2021. Sophora in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun!02 {{{3}}}. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2021. Sophora. Published online. Accessed: Jun 02 2021. 2021. Sophora. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun 02.
Hassler, M. 2021. Sophora. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2021. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2021 Jun 02. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2021. World Plants. Synonymic Checklist and Distribution of the World Flora. . Sophora. Accessed: 02 Jun 2021.

Vernacular names
беларуская: Сафора
English: Kowhai, Necklace-pods
Esperanto: Soforo
eesti: Keepuu
suomi: Pagodipuut
français: Sofora
Māori: kōwhai
polski: Szupin
русский: Софора
svenska: Soforasläktet
Tiếng Việt: Chi Khổ sâm

Sophora is a genus of about 45 species of small trees and shrubs in the pea family Fabaceae. The species are native to southern Asia, Australasia, various Pacific islands, western South America, the western United States,[3] Florida[4] and Puerto Rico. The generic name is derived from sophera, an Arabic name for a pea-flowered tree.[5]

The genus formerly had a broader interpretation including many other species now treated in other genera, notably Styphnolobium (pagoda tree genus), which differs in lacking nitrogen fixing bacteria (rhizobia) on the roots, and Dermatophyllum (the mescalbeans). Styphnolobium has galactomannans as seed polysaccharide reserve, in contrast Sophora contains arabinogalactans, and Dermatophyllum amylose.

The New Zealand Sophora species are known as kōwhai or kowhai.[6]

The seeds of species such as Sophora affinis and Sophora chrysophylla are reported to be poisonous.[7]

Fossil record

One Sophora fossil seed pod from the middle Eocene epoch has been described from the Miller clay pit in Henry County, Tennessee, United States.[8]

Sophora comprises the following species:[6][9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

Sophora albescens (Rehder) C.Y. Ma
Sophora albo-petiolulata Léonard
Sophora alopecuroides L.—sophora root
Sophora bakeri Prain
Sophora benthamii Steenis
Sophora brachygyna C.Y. Ma
Sophora cassioides (Phil.) Sparre—Pelú (Chile)[16]
Sophora chathamica Cockayne—coastal kowhai (New Zealand)
Sophora chrysophylla (Salisb.) Seem.—Māmane (Hawaii)
Sophora davidii (Franch.) Kom. ex Pavol.
Sophora denudata Bory
Sophora dunnii Craib
Sophora exigua Craib
Sophora fernandeziana (Phil.) Skottsb. (Juan Fernández Islands)
var. fernandeziana (Phil.) Skottsb.
var. reedeana (R.A.Phillips) Skottsb.
Sophora flavescens Aiton—ku shen (Eastern Asia)
var. flavescens Aiton
var. galegoides (Pall.) DC.
var. kronei (Hance) C.Y.Ma
Sophora franchetiana Dunn
Sophora fraseri Benth.
Sophora fulvida (Allan) Heenan & de Lange—Waitakere kowhai (New Zealand)
Sophora godleyi—Godley kowhai, papa kowhai (New Zealand)
Sophora howinsula (W.R.B.Oliv.) P.S.Green —lignum vitae, Lord Howe kowhai
Sophora inhambanensis Klotzsch
Sophora interrupta Bedd.
Sophora jaubertii Spach
Sophora koreensis Nakai – Korean necklace pod[17]
Sophora lanaiensis (Chock) O. Deg. & I. Deg.
Sophora leachiana M. Peck
Sophora linearifolia Griseb.
Sophora longicarinata (G.Simpson) Allan—limestone kowhai (New Zealand)
Sophora longipes Merr.
Sophora macrocarpa Sm.—mayo or mayú (Chile)
Sophora mangarevaensis H.St.John (French Polynesia)
Sophora masafuerana (Phil.) Skottsb. (Juan Fernández Islands)
Sophora microcarpa C.Y. Ma
Sophora microphylla Aiton—small-leaved kowhai (New Zealand)
Sophora molloyi—Cook Strait Kowhai (New Zealand)
Sophora mollis (Royle) Baker
subsp. griffithii (Stocks) Ali
subsp. mollis (Royle) Baker
Sophora moorcroftiana (Benth.) Baker
Sophora nuttalliana B.L. Turner
Sophora pachycarpa Schrenk ex C.A.Mey.
Sophora polyphylla Urb.
Sophora praetorulosa Chun & T. Chen
Sophora prazeri Prain
var. mairei (Pamp.) P.C.Tsoong
var. prazeri Prain
Sophora prostrata Buchanan—dwarf kowhai, prostrate kowhai (New Zealand)
Sophora raivavaeensis H.St.John (French Polynesia)
Sophora rapaensis H.St.John (French Polynesia)
Sophora rhynchocarpa Griseb.
Sophora saxicola Proctor (Jamaica)
Sophora secundiflora, a popular landscape plant, was reclassified to Dermatophyllum secundiflorum.
Sophora stenophylla A. Gray
Sophora tetraptera J.F. Mill.—large-leaved kowhai, Taupo kowhai (New Zealand)
Sophora tomentosa L.—necklace pod (Pantropical on coasts)
subsp. littoralis (Schrad.) Yakovlev
subsp. occidentalis (L.) Brummitt
subsp. tomentosa L.
Sophora tonkinensis Gagnep.
Sophora toromiro Skottsb.—toromiro (Easter Island)
Sophora unifoliata (Rock) O. Deg. & Sherff
Sophora velutina Lindl.
subsp. cavaleriei (H.Lev.) Brummitt & J.B.Gillett
subsp. velutina Lindl.
subsp. zimbabweensis J. B. Gillett & Brummitt
Sophora violacea Thwaites
Sophora wightii Baker (India)
Sophora xanthoantha C.Y. Ma
Sophora yunnanensis C.Y. Ma
Sophora zeylanica Trimen

Species names with uncertain taxonomic status

The status of the following species is unresolved:[15]

Sophora albicans J.St.-Hil.
Sophora ambigua P.C.Tsoong
Sophora angulata (Hook. & Arn.) Ravenna
Sophora angustifolia Q.Q.Liu & H.Y.Ye
Sophora biflora Houtt.
Sophora biflora Retz.
Sophora buxifolia Retz.
Sophora chathamica Cockayne
Sophora coerulea Moench
Sophora cuneifolia Steud.
Sophora davidii (Franch.) Skeels
Sophora donihuensis Ravenna
Sophora fulvida (Allan) Heenan & de Lange
Sophora genistaefolia Salisb.
Sophora genistoides L.
Sophora glabra Moench
Sophora glabra Hassk.
Sophora godleyi Heenan & de Lange
Sophora grandiflora (Salisb.) Skottsb.
Sophora grisea O.Deg. & Sherff
Sophora hirsuta Aiton
Sophora houghiana Wall.
Sophora howinsula (W.R.B. Oliv.) P. Green
Sophora jabandas Montrouz.
Sophora juncea Schrad.
Sophora ludovice-Adecim-Asexta Buc'hoz
Sophora mangarevaensis H.St.John
Sophora mecosperma J.St.-Hil.
Sophora molloyi Heenan & de Lange
Sophora molokaiensis O. Degener & I. Degener
Sophora mutabilis Salisb.
Sophora myrtillifolia Retz.
Sophora oblongata P.C.Tsoong
Sophora oblongifolia Ruiz & Pav.
Sophora oligophylla Baker
Sophora pendula Spach
Sophora pentaphylla Desv.
Sophora persica (Boiss. & Buhse) Rech.f.
Sophora praetorulosa Chun & T.C. Chen
Sophora raivavaeensis H.St.John
Sophora rapaensis H.St.John
Sophora robinoides Walp.
Sophora senegalensis Deless. ex DC.
Sophora sibirica Holub
Sophora sinica Rosier
Sophora sinuata Larrañaga
Sophora sororia Hance
Sophora sumatrana Yakovlev
Sophora sylvatica Burch.
Sophora tetraptera J. Miller
Sophora tiloebsis Blume ex Miq.
Sophora tiloensis Blume ex Miq.
Sophora trifolia Steud.
Sophora triphylla Sweet
Sophora vanioti H. Lév.
Sophora vestita Nakai
Sophora viciifolis Hance


"Sophora L." TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
"Genus: Sophora L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2006-11-03. Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
"PLANTS Profile Sophora nuttalliana B.L. Turner silky sophora". USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
"PLANTS Profile Sophora tomentosa L.yellow necklacepod". USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-03-20.
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Little, Elbert L. (1980). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region. New York: Knopf. p. 529. ISBN 0-394-50760-6.
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Tsoong P-C, Ma C-Y (1981). "A study on the genus Sophora Linn. (Cont.)" (PDF). Acta Phytotaxon Sin. 19 (2): 143–167.
Hurr KA, Lockhart PJ, Heenan PB, Penny D (1999). "Evidence for the recent dispersal of Sophora (Leguminosae) around the Southern Oceans: molecular data". J Biogeogr. 26 (3): 565–577. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2699.1999.00302.x. JSTOR 2656144.
Michell AB, Heenan PB (2002). "Sophora sect. Edwardsia (Fabaceae): further evidence from nrDNA sequence data of a recent and rapid radiation around the Southern Oceans". Bot J Linn Soc. 140 (4): 435–441. doi:10.1046/j.1095-8339.2002.00101.x.
"ILDIS LegumeWeb entry for Sophora". International Legume Database & Information Service. Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
USDA; ARS; National Genetic Resources Program. "GRIN species records of Sophora". Germplasm Resources Information Network—(GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
"The Plant List entry for Sophora". The Plant List. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden. 2013. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
Heenan PB (2001). "The correct name for Chilean pelú (Fabaceae): the identity of Edwardsia macnabiana and the reinstatement of Sophora cassioides" New Zealand J Bot. 39 (1): 167–170. doi:10.1080/0028825X.2001.9512725.
English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 450. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.

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