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a genus of deciduous or evergeen trees and shrubs of the family Leguminosae; a few species are perennial herbs. The leaves are odd-pinnate. The white, yellowish, pink, or blue-violet flowers are about 10–18 mm long and are gathered in racemes or panicles. The beadlike, cylindrical, or almost tetrahedral pods are sometimes winged and for the most part indehiscent.
There are about 20 species (according to other data as many as 70), growing in the tropics and subtropics. The plants are infrequently encountered in the temperate zone of both hemispheres. There are five species in the USSR. S. pachycarpa grows in Middle Asia, and 5. alopecuroides occurs in the southern European USSR, the Caucasus, Western Siberia, and Middle Asia. Both species are dangerous quarantine weeds of fields; it is very difficult to control them. Contamination of flour with ground So-phora seeds makes the bread bitter and poisonous. All species of Sophora are poisonous; they contain the alkaloids α-sparteine, sophocarpine, and matrine. The plants may be raised as nectar-bearers or as sources of insecticides, medicines, and dyes. The Japanese pagoda tree (S. japonica) is widely cultivated in the southern USSR as an ornamental.
REFERENCESKott, S. A. Karantinnye sornye rasteniia i mery bor’by s nimi, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1953.
Derev’ia i kustarniki SSSR, vol. 4. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.