Japanese Pagoda Tree (Sophora japonica)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Japanese Pagoda Tree
Sophora japonica

A yellow dye is obtained from the seedpods and the flowers[46, 61, 109, 178]. It is green when mixed with indigo[151].

Wood – tough, light, strong, of superior quality. Used in carpentry[109, 174].

  • Medicinal Use

    This species is commonly used in Chinese medicine and is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs[218]. It came second in a study of 250 potential antifertility agents[218].

    Diuretic, emollient, febrifuge, tonic[11, 147, 174, 178].

    The flowers and flower buds are antibacterial, anticholesterolemic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, haemostatic and hypotensive[11, 147, 174, 176, 178, 218, 238, 279]. The ovaries, especially just before the plant flowers, are a rich source of rutin and this is a valuable hypotensive agent[218]. The buds, flowers and pods are concocted and used in the treatment of a variety of ailments[218] including internal haemorrhages, poor peripheral circulation, internal worms etc[238]. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women[238].

    The seedpods are abortifacient[218].

    The seed is emetic and haemostatic[218]. It is used in the treatment of haemorrhoids, haematuria, uterine bleeding, constipation, stuffy sensation in the chest, dizziness, red eyes, headache and hypertension[176].It should be used with caution since it is toxic[218].

    The leaves are laxative[218]. They are used in the treatment of epilepsy and convulsions[218].

    A decoction of the stems is used in the treatment of piles, sore eyes and skin problems[218].

  • Edible Use

    Young leaves and flowers – cooked[177, 183]. The leaves need to be cooked in three lots of water in order to remove the bitterness[179]. This will also remove most of the vitamins and minerals[K].

    The leaves are a rich source of rutin, they contain much more than the usual commercial source, buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)[174]. The ovaries, before the flowers open, contain up to 40% rutin[218].

    A tea can be made from the young leaves and flowers[183].

    An edible starch is obtained from the seed[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The plant contains cytosine, which resembles nicotine and is similarly toxic[238].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse[200]. Pre-soak stored seed for 12 hours in hot (not boiling) water and sow in late winter in a greenhouse[78]. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle into individual pots in the greenhouse, and grow them on for 2 years under protected conditions. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer of their third year. Cuttings of young shoots with a heel, July/August in a frame[11]. Air-layering[200].
Succeeds in a well-drained moderately fertile soil in full sun[200]. Tolerates poor soils, atmospheric pollution, heat and, once established, drought[200]. Hardy to about -25¡ when mature, but it can be damaged by severe frosts when it is young[200]. A very ornamental[1] and fast growing tree[200], it grows best in hot summers[188]. It grows best in the warmer areas of the country where the wood will be more readily ripened and better able to withstand winter cold[219]. Trees take 30 years to come into flower from seed.[200], but they do not often ripen their seed in Britain[11]. Cultivated in China for the rutin contained in its leaves and ovaries[218]. Plants should be container-grown and planted out whilst young, older plants do not transplant well[219]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].
E. Asia – N. China, Japan, Korea.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.