Plant of the Month - January 2019

Sophora microphylla ‘Sun King’

Sophora_microphylla ‘Sun King’- S Turner
Sophora microphylla ‘Sun King’
Photo ©S. Turner
Sophora_microphylla ‘Sun King’- S Turner
Sophora microphylla ‘Sun King’
Photo ©S. Turner

This large bushy shrub has responded to the hot summer by flowering very profusely. The fine evergreen foliage with up to 40 leaflets on each 6in pinnate leaf provide a good foil for the bright yellow, pea-like flowers. These persist for many weeks. This cultivar was selected by John Hillier at his arboretum in 1982 from material brought from Chile, and subsequently widely marketed protected by Plant Breeders’ Rights. It holds the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society.

But amongst the 50 species of Sophora (in the Legumuminosae family) there has been some confusion and reclassification, and in recent years it has been convincingly demonstrated that the plant S. microphylla ‘Sun King’ is in fact a hybrid between S.cassioides and S. macrocarpa (both Chilean). S. microphylla is from New Zealand.

The shrub thrives against the wall in Osborn’s Field (Area J) near the Austrian pine.

Other Plants to look for in January can be found here

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