Sophora, from indoor to the balcony.

I received this plants as present when a friend come for a dinner.

It was sold as houseplant and spent the first months here in the living room. I started to investigate to know its name and the care it needs. It’s called Sophora prostrata “little baby”. Originally from New-Zealand where it called Kowhai. The Latin name comes from the Arabic and means Peas-flowered tree and prostrata prostate

The Sophora is a small evergreen bush with remarquable zigzaguing branches and small elliptic dark green leaves. It doesn’t grow tall and specially this variety “Little Baby”.

By reading the characteristic of the Sophora I discovered it is a frost resistant which is in USDA zones 8a (-12.2C to -9.6C). It will reached a maximum high of 1,5 meter after 10 to 20 years. So my plant moved on the balcony where the low density of the bush makes a light green screen with transparency and the hardiness can go trough a winter in Copenhagen .

Winter 2018 had cold temperature which went below -12C and I thought the Sophora will probably not survive. It lost a part of its leaves which were back in april. I was so glad, despite its fragile appearance the plant is very resistant.

This spring the bush comes into 2 kind of buds. Some was clearly leaves and some was ovate like small rugby ball.

The buds grew and offered first a pistachio green becoming yellow tubular flowers turning to the orange. It looks like a parrots beak.

I was really happy to see flowers coming on the sophora. Today some of same are turnig into longs legumes. The Sophora is from the Fabaceae family. The seeds are bean form and inside a legume. This plant family is one of the largest after Asteraceae and Orchidaceae. The most known Fabaceae are the beans, the peas, the gorse, the black locust, the lupine. They are easy to recognize by the form of their flowers and the legume.

Young legume on the Sophora.

I was first satisfied by the foliage of the Sophora and was not sure than the conditions on my balcony was the best for the plant. But it gave me flowers and I hope soon i will be able to collect the beans. Don’t hesitate to make a research of your houseplants. Some of them give their best if they feel free.

Legume on the Sophora.

Words and Photographs : Maxime Carton

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