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Japanese Pagodatree, Sophora



Authors as Published

Alex X. Niemiera, Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech (first published May 2009, last reviewed March 2024)


Foliage: Deciduous broadleaf Height: 75 feet

Spread: 75 feet

Shape: Oval to round, spreading

Japanese pagodatree is a medium/large shade tree with showy flowers in summer. Green seed pods, somewhat ornamental, hang on tree until late in the fall. Flower petals can be messy if tree is used near a house, road, or pathway.

Plant Needs:

Zone: 4 to 8

Moisture: Moist or dry

pH Range: 4.5 to 8.0

Light: Partial shade to full sun

Soil Type: Sandy, loam, or clay


Suggested uses for this plant include shade and street tree.

Planting Notes:

Plant in location where tree will have ample room to spread. Withstands city conditions.


Prune in the fall.

Tree litter can be a nuisance in high-traffic areas.


Twig blight is a minor problem.

Leaf hopper is another minor problem which kills young stems and can cause dense clusters of growth on branches called "witches brooms".

Tree litter is produced by falling petals, leaves and seed pods.


Consult local garden centers, historic or public gardens and arboreta regarding cultivars and related species that grow well in your area.

Cultivars of Sophora japonica:

MillstoneTM (‘Halka’) has a good symmetrical form and is less susceptible to stem canker. Regent® is resistant to leaf-hopper.

`Pendula' (weeping pagodatree) has pendulous branches.


Japanese pagodatree tolerates urban conditions and is suited for large areas where it can spread. Form and branch structure can be variable, thus purchasing a cultivar with a desirable form is suggested. The shade provided by this tree is not dense, but creates a nice filtered light.

The common name comes from the fact that it was planted around Buddhist temples in Asia.

This material was developed by Carol Ness as part of the Interactive Design and Development Project funded by the Kellogg Foundation.

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Publication Date

March 6, 2024