Sophora (family Leguminosae, subfamily Papilionatae) A genus of trees and shrubs, and a few perennial herbs, in which the leaves are alternate, usually pinnate with numerous leaflets, and with stipules. The flowers are held in terminal racemes or leafy panicles. They are irregular, with the lateral petals enclosed by the upright petal when in bud, and white, yellow, or blue-violet in colour. The calyx is composed of 5 fused sepals with short teeth. The 5 petals are held with the 2 lower ones partly fused, the 2 lateral and 1 upright standard. There are 10 free stamens. There is a single carpel, and the ovary is superior, with numerous ovules. The fruit is a fleshy or woody pod, which is often indehiscent. The seeds have thick cotyledons. The timber of the tree species is especially hard and strong (e.g. S. tetraptera (kowhai) of New Zealand and Chile is used for bearings in machines, as well as for ornamental purposes). Dye is obtained from S. japonica. There are 52 species, found in all tropical and temperate regions, particularly in Asia and America.
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