Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Kowhai
Sophora microphylla 'Sun King'

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Sophora (SOF-or-uh) (Info)
Species: microphylla (my-kro-FIL-uh) (Info)
Cultivar: Sun King
Additional cultivar information: (aka Hilsop)
Registered or introduced: 1997

One member has or wants this plant for trade.


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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to view:

By Kell
Thumbnail #1 of Sophora microphylla by Kell

By LawrenceM
Thumbnail #2 of Sophora microphylla by LawrenceM

By nifty413
Thumbnail #3 of Sophora microphylla by nifty413

By bootandall
Thumbnail #4 of Sophora microphylla by bootandall

By MarkTheEngineer
Thumbnail #5 of Sophora microphylla by MarkTheEngineer


3 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive kauri On May 17, 2012, kauri from Auckland
New Zealand wrote:

The Kowhai ( pronounced korfi) is a native tree of New Zealand and considered to be our national flower. Kowhai is a maori word which means yellow, the colour of the flowers. It flowers in the spring giving a beautiful golden display and is a favourite with native birds particularly the Tui, for its nectar. All of the plant is poisonous, especially the seeds
There are 8 species and they grow to about 8m high. Can be grown from seed or tip cuttings.

Positive sladeofsky On Jan 2, 2010, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This cultivar is supposedly hardy to zone 7 and perhaps 6b.

Positive LawrenceM On May 21, 2006, LawrenceM from Northampton
United Kingdom wrote:

This plant is evergreen where I live in England. Although the outer foliage does get cut back by hard frost it never loses most of its leaves.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Gainesville, Florida
Okatie, South Carolina
Memphis, Tennessee

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