|The tag reads: Styphnolobium japonicum - Japanese Pagoda Tree|
1. A straightforward way to identify a Styphnolobium japonicum is via a name tag. The Styphnolobium japonicum in question -- growing in the sidewalk on Waverly Place near 6th Avenue -- has such a tag on one of its branches. (The City via the New York Tree Trust labels street trees as part of its Sidewalk Arboreta program.) By the way, Styphnolobium japonicum is synonymous with Sophora japonica.
2. We recently acquired a smart phone and downloaded the Trees Near You (Trees NY) app designed by Brett Camper using the City's street tree census data. Trees NY provides the species name and diameter-at-breast-height information for trees in its database.
3. Another recent acquisition is Edward Sibley Barnard's New York City Trees: A Field Guide for the Metropolitan Area. The Styphnolobium japonicum is detailed on page 144 of the guide: leaf, flower, fruit, and bark. Barnard also lists several places where the tree is growing. Here's an excerpt from Barnard's description of the tree:
A legume like its American cousin the yellowwood, the Chinese scholartree bears showy clusters of frangrant, creamy-white flowers in mid to late summer after most trees have finished blooming. Once fertilized, each flower produces a long pod constricted between seeds. Very tolerant of polluted air, heat, and drought, the Chinese scholartree is a handsome and successful street and city park tree.Read more about the history of the Chinese scholartree, from its use as a memorial tree in China to its contemporary role as a street tree. Don't forget to tell us what tools you use to identify trees where you live.