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 Sophora subsp. var.  Kowhai
Sophora denudata (flowers)
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
5m12m 4m10m
Height: 5 m to 12 m
Width: 4 m to 10 m
Lifespan: perennial
Origin: New Zealand
Poisonous: All parts possibly poisonous
Bloom: early spring, mid spring
Exposure: sun, part-sun
Water: moist, moderate
Features: evergreen, flowers, birds, wildlife, bees, bonsai, hummingbirds
Hidden fields, interally pass variables to right place
Minimum Temp: 10°C283.15 K
50 °F
509.67 °R
USDA Zones: 8 to 10
Sunset Zones:
Flower features: yellow
Fabaceae > Sophora var. ,

Kowhai are a tree native to New Zealand. They are a legume in the genus Sophora. In total there are eight species, of which sophora microphylla is the most common.


The kowhai is a common feature along river edges throughout all of New Zealand. The trees will usually get to around 8 metres high with a similar spread. They prefer free draining soil.


The seeds need to be treated specially to make them grow. In nature the hard outer shell of the Kowhai seed erodes away as it tumbles down streams, so the shell needs to be damaged somehow to allow water to soak into it. To allow this, one can take small nicks out of the shell using a pair of nail clippers or some similar instrument. After the chitting, the seed needs to be placed in a container of water to soak for a night.
The seeds are best planted in a coarse mix to allow for good drainage, this prevents rotting or fungal infections.
The germination period is 14-21 days.

The Kowhai can be grown from cuttings during autumn and early winter. They will take about 60-100 days to root and can be planted out in spring.

Pests and diseases

The Kowhai caterpillar is a bright-green and black caterpillar that strips the leaves of the kowhai. The treatment for such a problem is the use of an insecticide such as Orthene (NZ), Mavrik (NZ), Shield (NZ) or Super Shield (NZ).[1]




  1. Yate's 'Garden Problem Solver', HarperCollins, New Zealand, 2001

External links

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