Also called the Chinese scholar tree, the pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum) is a native to China and Korea, though he’s also lived in Japan for some time and is widely planted as an ornamental. With plenty of year-round leaves that cast a luxuriant shade, the tree’s fragrant, pealike white flowers appear in late summer and early fall.
The Chinese character for this tree is a combination of the characters for “wood” and “demon.” And in fact, stories from both China and Japan indicate that the tree was suspected of harboring maleficent spirits. On the other hand, the tree has been popularly cultivated around Buddhist temples and has even been employed as a grave marker for Buddhist monks.
In truth, the pagoda tree is like a litmus test: if you are deeply in alignment with the earth—in other words, if the elements are balanced within you—he supports you spiritually and energetically. If you are not—for example, if you recklessly exploit the planet and behave in other ways that take you out of your natural harmony with your environment—he precipitates karma that will give you the opportunity and message to mend your ways. Of course, like being whacked on the head by a Zen master, experiencing this karma may leave a mark.
However, there is no need to fear the pagoda tree. As long as you approach and spend time with him with the sincere desire and willingness to be in the most harmonious possible alignment with the planet, he will not punish you cruelly but will rather nudge you gently toward acting with a respectful, grounded awareness of the interconnection of All That Is.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the pagoda tree (called Sophora Japonica or Huai Ha Mi) is considered one of the fifty fundamental herbs. Because of the astringent action of the flowers, the pagoda tree is employed to stop bleeding, treat blood clots and hemorrhages, promote circulatory and vein health, and regulate energy flow. Circulatory health and regulation of energy flow support all varieties of healing (emotional, spiritual, and physical). Considering the pagoda tree’s penchant for balancing and activating energy in precisely the way that is most needed, just spending quality time with a pagoda tree can be a wonderful way to supplement any and all healing efforts. Planting a pagoda tree in your yard is an excellent way to have a healer on staff around the clock.