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Japanese Pagoda Tree


COMMON NAME: Japanese Pagoda Tree, Chinese Scholar Tree
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Styphnolobium (Saphora)
FAMILY: japonicum (japonica)

Hardiness Zones 4 to 8.

Growth habit A medium-sized tree to 65 feet in height, usually broad rounded crown. Native of China and Korea, introduced to Japan and often planted around Buddhist temples for its showy flowers.

Foliage Alternate, pinnately compound, 6 to 10 inches, 7 to 17 leaflets; individual leaflets ovate, 1 to 2 inches long, entire margin, green above, slightly lighter below.

Flowers and fruit Flower is creamy white, pea-like, in long hanging cluster, each flowers ½ inch long, appearing in mid-summer. Fruit is a legume, yellow-green becoming light brown at maturity, 3 to 8 inches long, constricted between seeds, looks like a string of pearls; persisting all winter.

Twigs Moderate, shiny green, lighter lenticels, raised nodes, leaf scar a deep U-shape encircling the small brown buds; no true terminal bud.

Bark Gray-brown, splitting into ridges and furrows, reddish brown in furrows, furrows mostly long and vertical.

Landscape value Japanese Pagoda tree can be utilized as either a shade tree or a larger ornamental. This tree grows well in humid temperate regions and prefers rich, moist, well-drained soil, yet there are examples of successful planting in our semi-arid climate and in urban applications. In Denver, you can see Japanese Pagoda Trees growing in tree lawns along York Street, open grown in Washington Park and used as a street tree in tree pits near Union Station. The largest Japanese Pagoda Tree in Colorado is in Denver at sixty-eight feet tall and thirty three inches in diameter.

Information sources
Wendy McCartney, Colorado State Forest Service