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Sophora flavescens - Aiton.

Common Name Ku Shen, Shrubby sophora
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards The plant contains cytosine, which resembles nicotine and is similarly toxic[238]. The plant is poisonous when used in quantity[74, 174].
Habitats Scrub on mountain slopes, river valleys[74], especially on sandy soils[11]. Grassy places in lowland and waste ground, C. and S. Japan[58].
Range E. Asia - Russia to China.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Sophora flavescens Ku Shen, Shrubby sophora

Sophora flavescens Ku Shen, Shrubby sophora


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Sophora flavescens is an evergreen Shrub growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen in September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


S. angustifolia. Sieb.&Zucc.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge;

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anthelmintic  Antibacterial  Antifungal  Antipruritic  Astringent  Bitter  Carminative  Diuretic  
Febrifuge  Parasiticide  Parasiticide  Pectoral  Stomachic  Tonic

The root is anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antipruritic, astringent, bitter, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, parasiticide, pectoral, stomachic and tonic[61, 147, 174, 176, 178, 218, 279]. It is used internally in the treatment of jaundice, dysentery, diarrhoea and urinary infections[238]. It is used both internally and externally in the treatment of vaginitis, eczema, pruritis, ringworm, leprosy, syphilis, scabies and itching allergic reactions[238]. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[238]. The plant is anthelmintic and diuretic[218]. It also has antibacterial activity, inhibiting the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Trichomonas vaginitis[176, 218].

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Other Uses

Insecticide  Parasiticide  Parasiticide

The plant is a source of an insecticide and parasiticide[74, 176]. No further details.

Cultivation details

Succeeds in a well-drained moderately fertile soil in full sun[200]. Requires the protection of a sunny wall if it is to flower[182], and succeeds only in the mildest areas of the country. It grows best in the warmer areas of the country where the wood will be more readily ripened and better able to withstand winter cold[219]. Although hardy to at least -15°c[238], this species does not do very well in the relatively cool summers of Britain, the plant gradually weakens and eventually succumbs[11]. It can be grown in the milder areas of the country and be treated like a herbaceous perennial, growing afresh from the base each spring[233]. An important medicinal herb in China[61]. Plants should be container-grown and planted out whilst young, older plants do not transplant well[219]. A polymorphic species[58]. The flowers are produced on the current years growth[182]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].

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Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse[200]. Pre-soak stored seed for 12 hours in hot (not boiling) water and sow in late winter in a greenhouse[78]. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle into individual pots in the greenhouse, and grow them on for 2 years under protected conditions. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer of their third year. Cuttings of young shoots with a heel, July/August in a frame[11]. Air-layering[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Acacia sophoraeCoastal Wattle, Acacia20
Sophora davidiiSophora10
Sophora japonicaJapanese Pagoda Tree, Scholar Tree23
Sophora mollis 10
Sophora moorcroftiana 01
Sophora secundifloraMescal Bean, Texas Mountain Laurel01
Sophora sericeaSilky Sophora30
Sophora tetrapteraKowhai00
Sophora tonkinensis 02


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

Juan Algarte   Sun Jul 17 16:19:54 2005

Materia Medica by Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble ISBN: 0-939616-15-7

Ing. Jorge Beltran   Wed Aug 19 2009

I'm Ing. Jorge Beltrán, from Aguascalientes, México I work for Bernilabs I want to find a person who obtain and sell the extract from Sophora that is responsible of the insecticide effect. My mail is

ashraf odeh   Sat Sep 19 2009

plz we can use Sophora flavescens for ejaculation product or not

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