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 pinnate, with 9-21 leaflets, and the flowers in pendulous racemes similar to those of the Black locust.
Styphnolobium japonicum is native to eastern Asia (mainly China, despite the name; it was introduced in Japan), 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 has abortifacient, antibacterial, anticholesterolemic, antiinflammatory, antispasmodic, diuretic, emetic, emollient, febrifuge, hypotensive, purgative, styptic, and tonic properties.[dubious ][dead link]
S. japonicum contains the isoflavone glycoside sophoricoside.
The Chinese name for the tree (槐) is composed of the word 木 ("wood") and 鬼 ("demon"). In folklore, it is said that a cowherd once built a home out of this species of tree, and within a month his entire family was suddenly found dead, with no signs of foul play. It was therefore believed that demons are drawn to this tree and it is therefore not appropriate to use its wood to build homes. In addition, in the wild, other species of tree rarely grow near it.
- "Styphnolobium japonicum information from NPGS/GRIN". USDA. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
- "Styphnolobium japonicum - ILDIS LegumeWeb". Retrieved 2008-02-19.
- "Japanese axes and adzes". |accessdate=2012-02-24 |publisher=Robin Wood
- "Beautiful axes, Japanese carpentry tools".
- "Sophora japonica - Plants For A Future database report". Retrieved 2008-02-19.