Useful Plants of Japan Described and Illustrated

Aug 7, 2012 by

Written by the Agricultural Society of Japan back in 1895, USEFUL PLANTS OF JAPAN DESCRIBED AND ILLUSTRATED gives information about hundred of plants from Japan.  Here are just a few of the plants you will read about:

Musa basjoo, Sieb., Jap.; a perennial herbaceous plant of the order Musaceae cultivated in gardens. Late in spring it shoots forth its leaves to a height 10 fts. In summer it bears yellow flowers protected with large bracts. They are succeeded with fruits, which, however, do not come to maturity unless in hot climates. During the frosty season the leaves wither and only the sheath remains ; so it must be covered during the severe winter. From the sheath, fibre is obtained. In the Okinawa Islands, a different species of Musa grows plentifully, arid from its fibre, the natives weave a cloth called Bashofu (Musa linen).
Juncus balticus, Dent. Kohige ; a perennial herb of the order Juncaceae cultivated in paddy fields. It grows to a height of about 3 fts. In summer its stalk bears small flowers arranged in branches under about 3 inches from the top of the leaves. The stalks are cut and woven into mate called Bingoomote. They are also used to make hand-baskets. The Tuncus  is of the same use, but softer.

Typha angustifolia, Jap. Himegama ; a perennial aquatic plant of the order Araceae growing in swamps and ponds. In spring it shoots forth broad flat leaves to a height of 6-7 fts., and in summer the flower-stalks grow to the height of the leaves, bearing male and female flowers separately at the top. The latter is in the form of a spadix of a length of 8-10 inches and a diameter of an inch. When fully ripen, the flower flies off by the wind like cotten. It is used for tinder, candle-wick, paper-making, etc. The leaves are used for mats, baskets, and ropes. There are two varieties, large and small, which are of the same use. The young leaves can be eaten as a vegetable.

Cyperus nutans, Vahl. y Jap. Shichido, Riukiu ; a perennial aquatic plant of the order Cyperaceae cultivated in paddy fields. In spring, triangular stalks grow to a height of 4-5 fts., bearing fine flowers arranged on little petioles. In autumn they are cut, dried and woven into green mats called Riukiuo Diote or Ao-wushiro.

Carex dispalatha, Bcott., Jap. Kasa-suge  a perennial aquatic plant of the order Cyperaceae cultivated in paddy fields. The leaves are flat, about 1 inch broad, and 3 fts. long. In summer it shoots forth stalks, which bear male and female flowers. In autumn the leaves are cut and made into a kind of hats which is a famous product of the provinces of Kaga and Etsti.

Carex, Jap. Mino-suge ; a perennial plant of the order Cyperaceae growing wild in swamps. It resembles the ‘former in form, but the leaves are more narrow and strong, being used to make farmer’s rain coats. Besides these, there are many growing wild in mountains, and they are used for the same purpose.

Carex pierotii, Miq., Jap. Shio-kugu, Hama- kugu ; a perennial herb of the order Cyperacese growing wild in salty marshes. The length of the leaves are about 2 fts. In summer it shoots forth stalks bearing flowers at the head. In autumn the leaves are cut, dried and used to make ropes, etc. ”  Enjoy!



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