This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Horticulturist to the Kaitakuska, Yedo, Japan. [Continued from page 183.]
The forest trees principally consist of large Elms, which have much the appearance of the Ulmus campestris, so very common in the north of Europe. This tree attains a large size, averaging about 4 feet in diameter, and is most valuable for building purposes. A large area is covered with deciduous oak, consisting of Quercus serrata, a narrow serrated-leaved species; the beautifully leaved Quercus dentata, whose leaves generally are 5 to 6 inches long and 3 inches wide; the acorn, which is always single, is enclosed in a scaly cup, much resembling some of the North American species; and another species which has a much smaller and sharper dentated leaf. The third kind bears leaves of middle size and more deeply dentated than those of the former ones. The proportion in size and the number of trees seen growing seems to be equal in all three. A large Ash, growing about 100 feet high,' is a striking feature. I further remarked numbers of a large Walnut, which, cut up into boards, is used for the inside of houses, where it produces a good effect. On the foot of the mountains the large Magnolias and Cercidiphyllum, already mentioned, grow abundantly and in good sized specimens.
A curious tree, of a smooth white bark, bearing racemes of flowers almost the size of the Elderflower, is a gigantic representative in this country of the Snow-ball family, Viburnum phlebotrichium. Sophora Japonica, in company with another tree resembling very much a Syringa, were in flower at the time of my visit, and I was fortunate enough to secure both living and dried specimens of them, which in some cases were difficult to obtain from other trees.
At a distance of about twenty miles from the capital, having ascended the mountain range, I found an Elm with smooth bark and tripinnate leaves, very remarkable on account of the use to which the Ainos (the natives of the island) put the bark, and it is called by them Ohiyo. After being stripped from the tree, the bark is thrown into water, and the strong fiber, which separates after some time from the bark, is made into strings, and woven into a kind of cloth, which is in general use with them. For the purpose of dyeing this cloth they have been ingenious enough to discover materials in other plants. A yellow dye is furnished by the cork-like bark of a tree resembling an Ash (Aino name: Chikere-peni). The bark of an Alder (Aino name: Ke Ni), furnishes them another dye, which is of a red color. There are three kinds of Birch, the bark of two of which is employed for domestic purposes, one used as torches (Aino name: Chitachi ni), the other (Aino name: Kariba ni), for fastening together boards of boats. Two kinds of Linden are very conspicuous among forest trees. One a large heart-shaped leaved one is Tilia cordifolia; the other smaller, with flowers more erect, is Tilia mandschurica.
The inner bark of both is used for making strong ropes (Aino name: Nibeshni). It is equally used by Ainos and Japanese. Coniferous trees only grow in the higher elevations. They consist of two kinds, "Yesso matsu," Abies Yesoensis, and "Todo matsu," another long-leaved Abies with a white bark, growing taller than the former, and much used for timber in the saw-mill of Sapporo. On the borders of streams I noticed three different kinds of shrubby Viburnum growing in great abundance. A large lily of peculiar appearance forms together with the Lilium gigan-teum a separate section of this genus, as it differs from other lilies. It is frequently found near water, and in swampy places around Sapporo. It bears large heart-shaped leaves of a dark green color, and its flower stalks very often attain a height of 10 feet and more, bearing large flowers of a greenish white color outside; the inside is pure white, with purple spots at the base of each petal. It seems to differ from other lilies in propagating solely from seed. My observations in this respect were confirmed by my Japanese companions, who, I have reason to believe, possessed some knowledge of vegetable life.
It flowers only after the bulbs have attained a considerable size, from three to four years; and when it is done flowering it dies with the stock. According to Siebold's Flora Japonica, Tabula 14, it is Lilium cordifolinm. Siebold hardly can have had an opportunity of having seen this lily in its native habit, or his figure would have been of much larger dimensions. I also noticed several handsome herbaceous Spiraeas, one bearing red berries, which, when mature, turn black; another I found with white flowers about 6 feet high. Here also grows in the grass under the shade of trees a Campanu-lacea of climbing habit, with flowers resembling a diminutive Coboaea: Campanumaea lanceolata. In the mountains I found a number of terrestrial orchids Cypripedium, Epipactis, Liparis, and other small, evidently interesting species. In ferns the woods abound, and more particularly I was struck with a large smooth leaved Scolopen-drium. A climbing Hydrangea, the Schizo-phragma, the Ampelopsis a kind of Virginian creeper, and Vitis labrusca, the wild grape, as well as an Actinidia with edible fruit (Kokuwa) are here frequently met with..
From Sappora I started for the east coast on the 14th of August. The road leads through a well-wooded country skirting the foot of a range of hills. All along the road, and wherever horses have been travelling, I noticed an herb very common in these latitudes, a Plantago. The seeds of this Plantain if boiled forms a mucilage which has been found to act as a remedy in cases of dysentery. The forest trees principally consist of maple trees, of which I noticed and collected three kinds. One of them resembles the Ameri-can sugar-maple, and attempts have been made with some success to produce sugar from them. I saw crude samples of it during my stay at the capital, but have no doubt that with proper manipulation it could be made available for domestic purposes. Another of them is remarkable for its curious leaves, resembling more a Crataegus than a maple; and, if it had not been in flower, I should have mistaken it for one. It never attains more than 25 feet in height and 1 foot in diameter.
From Shimamappu, descending gradually towards Chitose, the formation of the ground changes from the rich loam hitherto met with into a mixture of black soil and pumice of an extinct volcano. As the soil changes the vegetation also presents different appearances. Deciduous oak trees form the principal feature on the more elevated ground. The Mistleto is found growing abundantly on these trees. The lower ground sloping towards the rivers is occupied by a shrub resembling, at first sight, a wild apple. It bears red fruit, and is called by the Japanese, "Sansashi" Pyrus toringo of Siebold. I found an excellent engraving of it in the "Kwawi," a celebrated Japanese botanical work published a hundred years ago. Among plants of smaller growth I noticed several kinds of Spiraea which were in flower at the time, and a shrubby Aralia with small green flowers and black berries. Three terrestrial Orchids are found growing in the grass under the shade of forest trees. One, the uni-versally known Spiranthes australis, a pretty Liparis, and another peculiar looking Orchid with large leaves and flowers, probably a Bletia. Shallow ponds of some extent are formed in the woods, and possess a vegetation of their own.
Rushes and small ferns and the blue flowering Pontederia are the principal occupants of these moist localities. The deeper ponds are covered with the. leaves of Nymphaea tetragona, already noticed before at Oshamambe. Birch and Alder are found of all sizes in the more rugged localities.
(To continue in next number.)