Native palm trees in Chichijima



Ogasawara has two native palm trees. Both have very simple common names in Japanese: biroyashi, which means fan palm or Chinese fan palm,  and noyashi, a feather palm that uses the “no” of Nakano, which means field or rustic. The noyashi has beautiful, almost golden leaf bases on its trunk.  Below, in a nature sanctuary on the east side of Chichijima, the biroyashi rise above the low scrub on steep cliffs.


Japanese anemone signal fall

I have always loved shade-tolerant, fall flowering Japanese anemone. As soon as it started to get cold, I bought a white one for my balcony garden, and placed it inside one of my hand-made, ceramic flower pots.

I was surprised when a local flower shop owner told me the name in Japanese: shumeikiku (シュウメイキク, or 秋明菊). She insisted that it is, in fact, not an anemone. For Japanese, “anemone” flowers in spring and early summer, and it seems to be in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae.

This naming confusion is quite common with flowers and plants.What we call Japanese maple, the Japanese call momiji (モミジ). Often the English name covers what for Japanese is several different flowers; a good example is azalea.

The funniest thing about the “Japanese anemone” name is that it is both relatively recent and a European hybrid of a Chinese cultivar. I love the national origin confusion, and the fact that this gorgeous plant is man-made.