Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Sophora tomentosa subsp. australis Yakovlev

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves, flowers and fruit. © CSIRO
Fruit and seeds. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO

Yakovlev, G.P. (1967) Trudy Leningradskogo Khimiko-Farmacevticheskogo Instituta 21: 54. Type: Port Denison, Queensland, 8.x.1887, F. v. Mueller (LE).

Common name

Silver Bush; Sea-coast Laburnum


Seldom exceeding 30 cm dbh. Blaze odour resembling that of beans. Usually flowers and fruits when still at the shrub stage.


Twigs, compound leaf axis and underside of leaflet blades clothed in silvery hairs. Freshly broken twigs emitting an odour like that of beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). Leaflet blades about 25-55 x 19-32 mm.


Inflorescences about 10-50 cm long, pedicels about 7-10 mm long. Calyx densely clothed in silver, prostrate hairs, calyx about 5-7 mm long, lobes small and inconspicuous. Petals variable, about 19-25 mm long. Ovary appressed pubescent.


Pods about 6-15 x 1 cm, conspicuously constricted between the seeds (down to about 2 mm) resembling a string of beads. Seeds almost globular, about 6-9 mm diam.


Two or three cataphylls usually produced before the first true leaves. First few pairs of leaves may be simple, bifoliolate or trifoliolate, hairy on the upper surface. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves with about 5-7 leaflets, leaflet blades ovate or elliptic, apex obtuse, base cuneate to obtuse, upper and lower surfaces whitish from pale hairs; petiole, rhachis of compound leaf, leaflet stalks, stem and terminal bud densely hairy. Terminal leaflets usually larger than the lateral leaflets and each terminal leaflet equipped with a pulvinus on the stalk. Stalk of the terminal leaflet is longer than those of the lateral leaflets. Seed germination time 21 to 28 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NT, CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards to north eastern New South Wales. Restricted to elevations slightly above mean sea level. Grows on beaches and in beach forest. The species is Pantropic, found on sea shores.

Natural History & Notes

All plant parts poisonous. Austin, D. F. 1998. Poisonous Plants of Southern Florida.

This species has been used medicinally in Malaysia. Cribb (1981). Of no grazing significance. Roots and seeds have been used for medicinal purposes. Hacker (1990).


Sophora tomentosa L., Species Plantarum 2: 373 (1753). Type: Habitat in Zeylona.

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