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Sophora microphylla

Kowhai is part of the Sophora genus. Its scientific name is Sophora microphylla.

Kowhai are legume trees native to New Zealand. There are eight species, S. microphylla (South Island Kowhai) and S. tetraptera (North Island Kowhai) being the most common. S. microphylla is characterised by its small leaves (5–7 mm long by 3–4 mm wide), and flowers (2.5-3.5 cm long) when compared to S. tetraptera, which has leaves and flowers twice those sizes.

It grows mainly as a Semi-Evergreen, so it will tend to grow as an evergreen in mild areas but will otherwise grow as a deciduous plant. Kowhai normally grows with a tree habit to a mature height of 8.00 metres (that's 26.00 feet imperial). This plant tends to bloom in early spring.

New Zealand is believed to be where Kowhai originates from.

Kowhai is normally fairly low maintenance and is normally quite easy to grow, as long as a level of basic care is provided throughout the year. Being aware of the basic soil, sun and water preferences will result in a happier and healthier plant.

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Kowhai have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow Kowhai

Kowhai can be grown from seed or tip cuttings in spring and autumn.

Keep in mind when planting that Kowhai is thought of as hardy, so Kowhai will tend to go dormant or grow slowly over the winter months.

See our list of companion Plants for Kowhai to see which plants you should plant in close proximity to encourage growth.

Growing Kowhai from seed

Easy from seed, provided the hard seed shell is nicked first with a knife or rubbed with sandpaper to expose the endosperm. Soaking seed treated this way overnight often helps speed up germination.1

Transplanting Kowhai

Young Kowhai are quite frost tender, so cuttings or seedlings should be planted in their second year when they are 30 cm or higher.

Ensure that temperatures are mild and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as Kowhai is a hardy plant.

Common Kowhai problems

These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect Kowhai plants:

Kowhai Etymology

Kowhai is pronounced Koofuy, with the double o as in “foot”.

Kowhai Folklore & Trivia

Maori, who are the indigenous people of New Zealand, in earlier times used the bark of the kowhai for medicinal purposes, mainly heated and used as a poultice.
Kowhai is widely acknowledged by New Zealanders as their national flower.

Other names for Kowhai

South Island Kowhai, Golden Kowhai

Kowhai care instructions

How long does Kowhai take to grow?

These estimates for how long Kowhai takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world. Start logging and journaling your observations to participate!


Popular varieties of Kowhai

View the complete variety list for Kowhai »

Kowhai Forums

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