|Japanese pagoda tree|
It was formerly included within a broader interpretation of the genus Sophora. The species of Styphnolobium differ from Sophora in lacking the ability to form symbioses with rhizobia (nitrogen fixing bacteria) on their roots. It also differs from the related genus Calia (mescalbeans) in having deciduous leaves and flowers in axillary, not terminal, racemes. The leaves are alternate, pinnate, with 9-21 leaflets, and the flowers in pendulous racemes similar to those of the Black locust.
Styphnolobium japonicum is native to China; despite the name, it was introduced in Japan. It is a popular ornamental tree in Europe, North America and South Africa, grown for its white flowers, borne in late summer after most other flowering trees have long finished flowering. It grows into a lofty tree 10-20 m tall with an equal spread, and produces a fine, dark brown timber.
It is considered to have abortifacient, antibacterial, anticholesterolemic, antiinflammatory, antispasmodic, diuretic, emetic, emollient, febrifuge, hypotensive, purgative, styptic, and tonic properties.[dubious ] Some components in the dried fruit showed antifertility action, haemostatic properties, anticancer, antitumor, antiobesity, antioxidation effects and had roles in the treatment of hypertension and haemorrhoids. The fruit should not be taken during pregnancy. The dried flower buds are considered to have different medicinal properties from the dried ripe fruit. Toxic effects may include nausea, dizziness, vomiting, abdominal pain, hepatomegaly with abnormal liver function, haematuria, albuminuria, somnolence, spasms and coma.
The dried flower buds may contain as much as 20% rutin with some quercetin. S. japonicum dried fruit contain the flavonoid glycosides sophoricoside, genistin and rutin and the flavonoid aglycones genistein, quercetin and kaempferol. Another analysis found genistein and genistein glycosides including sophorabioside, sophoricoside, genistein-7-diglucoside, genistein-7-diglucorhamnoside, and kaempferol and the kaempferol glycosides kaempferol-3-sophoroside and kaempferol-3-rhamnodiglucoside. The fruit also contain the alkaloids cytisine, N-methylcytisine, sophocarpine, matrine and stizolamine.
The Chinese name for the tree (?) is composed of the word ? ("wood") and ? (representing a spirit in physical form, "ghost"). The tree is generally planted around village edges and in front of temple entrances.