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Sophora tomentosa


Sophora tomentosa L.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Common Name: Silver Bush, Necklace Pod, 绒毛槐

Sophora tomentosa is an attractive shrub with showy pea-shaped flowers, fruit pods resembling strings of beads and attractive leaves with silvery short hairs on the underside, hence the common name Silver Bush. Easy to grow, this plant is ideally planted as a specimen shrub in parks, gardens and coastal areas.


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub, Tree (Shrubby (1m-5m))
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 4.5 m


Native Distribution Pantropical (tropical Africa, Asia, America, Pacific and Australia).
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Coastal Forest, Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland, Disturbed Area / Open Ground), Shoreline (Sandy Beach)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Critically Endangered (CR))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a shrub or small tree up to 4.5 m tall.
Foliage Its stalked leaves have primary leaflets (pinnae) that are up to 18 cm long, and 11–15 pairs of secondary leaflets. Its slightly leathery leaf blades are oval or rounded, covered densely with gray-white hair below, without hair above, and 2.5–5 by 2–3.5 cm.
Stems Young branches are shortly tomentose.
Flowers Its pea-shaped flowers grow in dense clusters on flowering shoots that are up to 20 cm long. The flowers are yellow or whitish, about 17 by 10 mm, with a claw that is about 3 mm long, wings that are long and oval, and a keel that is slightly shorter than the wings.
Fruit Its fruit pods resemble strings of beads, covered with short hair, measuring 7–10 cm long by 0.9–1 cm wide. Its seeds are numerous, brown, and round.
Habitat It grows on sand dunes, seashores, and open grassland along the beach.
Associated Fauna It is the preferred local food plant for the caterpillars of the moths Mesophleps epiochra, Mesophleps palpigera, Uresiphita polygonalis, and Uresiphita reversalis.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed. Plant grows well in well-drained soil and able to withstand salt spray, thus suitable for coastal planting.
Etymology The genus Sophora, is an Arabic name for a pea-flowered tree; while the Latin tomentosa means thickly matted with hair, possibly referring to the undersides of leaves.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal: Its seed oil is reputed to be a good expectorant and can be applied externally to soothe painful bones. A decoction of the seeds and roots is given in bilious disorders. A decoction of the seeds, roots or bark has been used against cholera. Its pounded seeds are used to cure colic and dysentery. Smaller doses are applied as an antidote in food poisoning and stings of poisonous fish, as well as to treat haemoptysis, painful urination and gonorrhea. Its root-bark can be also used to treat poisoning. 
Timber & Products: Its timber is hard and heavy, which can be used for small objects.
Others: In East Africa, it is used as a fish poison. 

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable for parks, small gardens and roadsides.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage, Ornamental Fruits
Landscape Uses General, Suitable for Roadsides, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Coastal, Beachfront / Shoreline, Hedge / Screening
Thematic Landscaping Silver Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Butterfly-Attracting, Caterpillar Moth Food Plant
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Butterfly, Moth))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Water)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water, Little Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast to Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Drought Tolerant, Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Poor Infertile Soils
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Silver / Grey
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Hairy / Hirsute, Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Prominent Young Flush Colour(s) Green
Young Flush Texture(s)
Foliar Type Compound
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Oval)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Rounded
Foliar Base Rounded / Obtuse

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Yellow / Golden
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Terminal
Flower Symmetry Bilateral
Individual Flower Shape Papilionaceous / Pea-shaped
Inflorescence Type Raceme
Flowering Period Free-Flowering
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Hairy / Hirsute
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type
Mature Seed Texture(s) Smooth
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Numerous (>20)

Image Repository



Master ID 31328
Species ID 5725
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 20 April 2022.