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LIGNUM VITAE (Sophora howinsula)
Biodiversity > Plants > Trees

Lignum vitae Sophora howinsula

Sophora howinsula          Lignum vitae        FAMILY FABACEAE


A tree to 13m high with soft pinnate leaves and rough bark. Scattered occurrence on the lowland hills, locally common e.g. Transit Hill. This tree has a very hard timber and has been used for fenceposts and house stumps. The tree is endemic, belonging to a very distinctive group of Sophora species distributed in New Zealand, Hawaii, Easter Island, Gough Island, Tubai Island, Juan Fernandez Island, and Reunion Island. The genus has about 50 species in tropical and subtropical regions.

Leaves compound and pinnate, up to 11 pairs of leaflets; leaflets elliptic 20mm x 8mm soft texture, mid‑green. Flowers (Jul‑Sep) large yellow pea flowers 3 to 4cm long in clusters of several to 20. Fruit a legume, green, turning light brown, 7-12cm long, 4‑winged along the length and greatly constricted between seeds. Pods do not split on tree, but fall and decay.

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