Styphnolobium japonicum
Common Name: Japanese pagoda tree 
Type: Tree
Family: Fabaceae
Native Range: China, Korea
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 50.00 to 75.00 feet
Spread: 50.00 to 75.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Shade Tree, Street Tree
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Drought, Air Pollution


Best grown in rich, medium moisture, well-drained sandy loams in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun. Tolerant of common city pollutants and conditions. Once established, it is also tolerant of heat and some drought. Newly planted saplings may not flower for as long as the first 10 years.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Styphnolobium japonicum, commonly called Japanese pagoda tree or Chinese scholar tree, is native to China and Korea, but not Japan. It is a medium to large deciduous tree that typically matures to 50-75’ (less frequently to 100’) tall with a broad rounded crown. It is generally cultivated for its attractive compound foliage and fragrant late summer flowers. Pinnate leaves (to 10” long), each with 7-17 oval, lustrous, dark green leaflets, remain attractive throughout the growing season. Leaves retain green color late into fall, resulting in no fall color or at best an undistinguished greenish yellow. Small, fragrant, pea-like, creamy white flowers (each 1/2” long) bloom in late summer in sweeping terminal panicles to 12” long and to 12” wide. Flowers fall to the ground around the tree after bloom covering the ground with a blanket of white. Flowers give way to slender, 1- to 6-seeded, knobby, bean-like pods (to 3-8” long) that mature to brown in fall and persist into winter. Although not native to Japan, the specific epithet and common name seem to recognize the early use of the tree in Japan around Buddhist temples.

Formerly known as Sophora japonica.

Specific epithet means of Japan but this tree is not native to Japan.


No serious insect or disease problems. Twig blight, verticillium wilt, canker, powdery mildew and rust may occur. Watch for leaf hoppers.


Lawn or street tree.