Sophora chrysophylla – Mamane

Sophora chrysophylla - Mamane, Mamani

Sophora chrysophylla - Mamane, Mamani (flowers)

Sophora chrysophylla - Mamane, Mamani (seeds)

Sophora chrysophylla - Mamane, Mamani (bark)

Sophora chrysophylla - Mamane, Mamani

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Sophora chrysophylla

Common Names: Mamane, Mamani

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial, Evergreen

Growth Habit: Tree, Shrub

Hawaii Native Status: Native (endemic)

Flower Color: Golden yellow

Flowering Season: Winter, Spring, Sporadic

Height: The tree form can grow to 40 feet (12 m) or more tall, but these plants often only reach heights of 10-30 feet (3-9 m) or less.

Description: The showy, pea-like flowers are clustered at the branch tips. The flowers are followed by green, beaded necklace-like, four-winged seedpods that become brown, rough-textured, and woody when mature. The mature seedpods contain 1/4 inch (6 mm) long, hard, golden yellow beans. The leaves are green, drooping, and pinnately compound with paired oval to oblong leaflets. The bark is smooth and golden brown on the branches and younger trees and rough and gray on the older trees.

Mamane grows in upland forests and shrublands, and it is especially common in dry forests and grassy subalpine areas.

Introduced grazing animals like Mouflon Sheep (Ovis aries) and Wild Goats (Capra hircus) are a serious threat to Mamane trees because they eat the young trees and heavily browse the foliage, weakening or killing the trees. Efforts have been made to remove these animals from Mamane areas to protect these trees and the native birds that depend on them. Endemic Hawaiian honeycreepers (birds in the subfamily Drepanidinae) feed on the flower nectar, and one of these honeycreepers, the endangered Palila (Loxioides bailleui) feeds on the immature seeds in the green seedpods.

Special Characteristics

Poisonous – The seeds are bitter and poisonous, but the Palila and some Cydia moth larvae (Cydia spp.) are still able to eat them.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Rosidae
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae – Pea family
Genus: Sophora L. – necklacepod
Species: Sophora chrysophylla (Salisb.) Seem. – mamani

More About This Plant

Hawaii County Distribution Map