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weeping pagodatree

Sophora_japonica-BFweeping pagodatree, Styphonolobium japonica ‘Pendula’ (formerly Sophora japonica ‘Pendula’)

Scientific Name

Japonica means “of Japan.”

Common Name

Japanese pagodatree is named for the use of the tree around temples in China. Pagodatree is also called scholar-tree because it was planted at the graves of Chinese scholars. It was an official memorial tree during the Chinese Zhou dynasty (1030-220 BC) and used around Buddhist temples.


Pagodatree is native to China and Korea. Trees grow in well-drained soils and full sun.


Not native to Kentucky.


Growth Habit and Form

Weeping pagodatree is a deciduous tree that typically grows 15 to 25 feet in height. It has a weeping form with pendent branches. The species form (Styphonolobium japonica) requires tremendous space and is best reserved for large areas. It grows 50 to 70 feet high and wide.


Leaves are compound, 6 to 10 inches long and have 7 to 17 leaflets. Leaves are shiny green and turn soft yellow in autumn.


Weeping pagodatree seldom flowers. Flowers are creamy white, pea-like and in 6 to 14 inch-long clusters. Flowers are fragrant and bloom between July and August. Flowers are pollinated by bees.


Fruit is a 3 to 8 inch-long green pod that turns golden when ripe. The pod is constricted between each seed, resembling a string of beads. The constricted seedpod is a key identification feature of this tree. Fruit ripens in October and pods persist through winter.


The bark is green to brownish-gray, furrowed and has tan lenticels.

Wild and Cultivated Varieties

‘Columnaris’ (‘Fastigiata’) has an upright growth habit.

‘Regent’ has an oval-rounded form.

‘Variegata’ has white speckled leaves.


Landscape Use

Pagodatree is pollution tolerant. Weeping pagodatree’s pendulous habit makes it a beautiful choice for an accent or formal specimen.

Hardiness Zone

Hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 7.

Growth Rate


Culture and Propagation

Trees grow best in moist, well-drained, fertile soils. Trees prefer full sun and are tolerant of urban pollution. Trees tolerate urban pollution, heat and drought. Propagate by seed or grafted on a standard.

Diseases and Insects

Japanese pagodatree is susceptible to canker and leaf hoppers that can kill young stems. It is also susceptible to powdery mildew.

Wildlife Considerations

Weeping pagodatree provides homes and shelter for wildlife.

Maintenance Practices

Minimal attention given appropriate cultural conditions.


Historically Japanese pagodatree was planted around Buddhist temples in Asia. The flowers have been listed as a famine food in China and Korea.

Japanese pagodatree is a popular container and in-ground ornamental. Japanese pagodatree was introduced into cultivation in the U. S. in 1747. Yellow dye can be extracted from the flowers by baking them and then boiling them in water.