Plant of the Month July - Sophora japonica


Plant of the Month July - Sophora japonica

01Jul 2019

Summertime is the season for perennials. In most gardens, the flower beds are blooming while the trees hang heavy with fruit, while also coming into their own as givers of gentle green shade. Our plant of the month, on the other hand, is one of the few plants that chooses summer to burst into flower.


As the name suggests, the Japanese Pagoda tree is native to the Asian region. In Japan, China and Korea it occurs mainly in dry and stony areas. This tolerance to drought and difficult locations makes it a popular tree for inner-city greening. It's important to ensure that the soil is not compacted and that the Pagoda tree has sufficient space.





Sophora japonica can reach a height of 14-18 m, while in its home country it occasionally manages up to 40 m! The crown also becomes increasingly rounded with age and can grow up to 16 m wide. Its spreading, twisting branches and feathered foliage lend the large tree an elegant and majestic appearance. The small egg-shaped leaves sit in pairs on stalks up to 25 cm long. Although the foliage does not sprout earlier than the end of April, it tends to stay a beautiful golden autumn colour right through to November. Trimming should only be carried out in autumn.




From July the creamy white flowers begin to appear upon vertical panicles. They are reminiscent of Robinia flowers and are at least as popular with insects. Full of nectar and with a delicate fragrance, in summer they are an important source of food for bumblebees and honeybees alike. If you're looking forward to enjoying the particular flowering splendour of the Pagoda tree you'll need to be patient though, since flowers only appear when the plants are somewhat older. In autumn the green pods with their cargo of multitudinous black seeds arrive.