Patrinia sericea (Nutt.) Raf.
Pseudosophora sericea Sweet
Radiusia sericea Heynh.
Sophora carnosa (Pursh) Yakovlev
Sophora sericea Nutt.
Vexibia nuttalliana (B.L.Turner) W.A.Weber
Vexibia sericea (Nutt.) Raf.
Common Name: Silky Sophora
Sophora nuttalliana is a herbaceous perennial plant growing up to 30cm tall.
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is grown as an ornamental.
Sophora nuttalliana is widespread and common in its natural range, it is known to occur within the protected area network, there are no major threats to the species and the population is believed to be stable. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2012)[
The plant, and especially the seeds, are narcotic and hallucinogenic. The seed contains the poisonous, volatile, liquid alkaloid sophorine, which is chemically identical to cytisine[
]. It resembles nicotine in its action and is similarly toxic[
Central and southern N. America - Wyoming and South Dakota, south to Arizona to Texas, northern and central Mexico.
Prairies and dry hills, growing in Pinyon-Juniper woodland, grasslands, rocky ground, and disturbed habitats such as along roadsides, in loamy and sandy soils; at elevations from 1,070 - 1670 metres[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Sophora nuttalliana is very cold tolerant, but requires hot summers if it is to thrive.
Succeeds in a well-drained moderately fertile soil in full sun[
]. It grows best in the warmer areas of the country where the wood will be more readily ripened and better able to withstand winter cold[
Plants should be container-grown and planted out whilst young, older plants do not transplant well[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Root - raw[
]. A sweet flavour, it is chewed as a delicacy[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse[
]. Pre-soak stored seed for 12 hours in hot (not boiling) water and sow in late winter in a greenhouse[
]. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle into individual pots in the greenhouse, and grow them on for 2 years under protected conditions. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer of their third year.
Cuttings of young shoots with a heel, mid summer in a frame[