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Journal American Rhododendron Society

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Volume 26, Number 1
January 1972

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Seeds Collected in Japan, 1971: A Preliminary List
Frank Doleshy, Seattle, Washington

Republication rights reserved by the author

Locations, 1971 Seed Collections
FIG. 11. Locations, 1971 Seed Collections.

        After wet springtime trips in 1969 and 1970, a resumption of fall travel in Japan was appealing to Mrs. Doleshy and me, since this is the season of "high skies", with fine, clear weather and good seed collecting. So the story goes. As it turned out, the low temperatures on October 26th broke records, and the heavy snows on that and the following day forced us to change our plans, but probably resulted in a larger rather than smaller total gathering of seeds.
        For those who may want to order this material from the ARS Seed Exchange, it is better to have some information before rather than after.
        We visited three distinct areas, and our collections are listed accordingly.

A. Hida Mountains, or Northern Alps
        No. 503 R. aureum (or, if you prefer the commonly-used synonym, "R. chrysanthum"). Mt. Tateyama, near east boundary of Toyama Prefecture. October 19th. Elev. 2580-2650 meters (84608700 feet). Low or creeping shrub with small, leathery leaves, yellowish where fully exposed, silvery blue-green where there is any slight shelter. Seen only among or at the edges of waist-high pine thickets. In this distinctive plant community, it is often associated with Vaccinium, Gaultheria and Shortia, forming an attractive ground-cover mosaic which is enlivened with the yellow flowers in spring.
        No. 510 R. tschonoskii var. trinerve. Happo-one Ridge, just west of Hakuba, near NW boundary of Nagano Prefecture. October 20th. Elev. 1800 m. (5900 ft.) and up. Growing almost as a hedge at outer edges of the patches of evergreen trees and shrubs. This densely branched deciduous Azalea, with its small, hairy leaves and small white flowers, is especially a prize for the rock gardener or bonsai grower. Here, it was thriving on serpentine rock and the thin, serpentine - derived soil - possibly a factor to consider in cultivation or in studying its natural distribution.
        No. 518 R. aureum. Mt. Norikura, boundary of Nagano and Gifu Prefectures. October 24th. Elev. 2720-2760 m. (8920-9060 ft.) Much the same as at Mt. Tateyama but, here, the pine was more often knee-high than waist-high, and the R. aureum seldom had any shelter.
        No. 521 R. brachycarpum. Same area and date as No. 518. Elev. 2720 m. Walking around the corner of a ridge from some normal looking R. aureum, we came to completely different Rhododendrons which, surprisingly, turned out to be a patch of normal looking R. brachycarpum. Compared with the R. aureum, flower trusses had been much larger, leaves were larger, thinner, and yellow-veined, and the plants grew more or less upright. Hard as we looked, we could see no evidence that the two species were hybridizing to produce R. x nikomontanum.
        No. 523 R. metternichii var. hondoense. Found beside a new road under construction over Tsukiyo-sawa Pass, just south of Mt. Norikura, at the west boundary of Nagano Prefecture. October 26th. Elev. 1700 m. (5580 ft.) Leaves large but rather narrow for this variety; leaf color a vivid, dark green if shaded for any part of the day; leaves retained several years; indumentum thin and plastered, pale tawny color to almost bluish; seed capsules up to one inch long; flower buds exceptionally large. Generally compact growth habit to heights of about 7 feet, in this rather high and northerly location.

B. Joshin-etsu Highlands, about 80 kilometers east of the Hida Mountains
        No. 527 R. brachycarpum. Slopes of Mt. Shirane, near Kusatsu, NW Gumma Prefecture. October 30th. Elev. 1700 m. (5580 ft.) Same location as our sparse No. 15 collection of 1965, but seed more plentiful this year. Exuberantly healthy plants, although usually not over chest-high at this altitude. Great, oval, rich-green leaves which made us think of R. orbiculare hybrids; more than average amount of indumentum for this species. Seedlings and naturally-layered plants underfoot everywhere, forming an attractive ground cover with Epigaea, Shortia, Corms, Empetrum, Gaultheria, etc. Also, as six years ago, we here saw a few plants of R. metternichii var. pentamerum, but these seemed above their optimum elevation range.
        No. 529 R. metternichii var. pentamerum (or, if you like the older name, "R. degronianum"). Same area and date as above, but collected down at 1530 m. (5020 ft.) among great thickets - dozens of acres - where the pentamerum and R. brachycarpum crowd out practically every other plant but seem to grow together without hybridizing. Here, we picked only pentamerum seed, since the R. brachycarpum did not differ noticeably from that found above. The pentamerum at this location is much more attractive than plants we have seen elsewhere: Indumentum thick and often pinkish, compact growth habit, and (at least in the wild) deep-colored leaves with a bluish tone. Seed had been scarce in 1965 (No. 12), but plentiful this year.

C. Kii Peninsula
        No. 531 R. metternichii. Form with a rather thin but woolly indumentum of extraordinary reddish-orange color. Not plainly referable to var. hondoense or var. metternichii - but we often find it useless to try to make this distinction. Seed obtained from cultivated plants in a garden at Yoshino Town. November 4th. Source of these plants somewhat secret, but I gathered that they were dug on Sanjoga Mtn., farther south in Nara Prefecture. Seed should be "safe", since we saw no cultivated Rhododendrons other than metternichii and Azaleas during the three days we based at a Yoshino inn. Also, only this brightly-indumented strain was growing in or near the garden where we obtained the seed. Seed capsules were very plentiful and up to 1.3 inches long, and there were many buds for next spring.
        Nos. 536 and 537 Azalea: R. kaempferi or near. From Mt. Takami, a peak beside the pass of the same name where Highway 166 crosses the boundary of Nara and Mie Prefectures. November 4th. Elev. 1150-1249 m. (37704100 ft.) Both of these numbers probably represent a single variety of one species, but two forms were obvious: those with small leaves turning purple (536), and those with larger, more hairy leaves turning flame red (537). Much-branched shrubs to about head height.
        No. 541 R. metternichii. From Kumano Gorge area of central Kii Peninsula, along the upper, un-drivable, portion of road leading to Zenki from Highway 169, a few kilometers north of Ikehara Dam, Nara Prefecture. November 6th. 550-620 m. (1800-2030 ft.) A cliff dweller with the tip of the plant often up and out 25 feet from the roots, making seed hard to collect, yet with full canopies of foliage and a graceful habit. Indumentum thin but woolly, a good orange-tan color. Also, perhaps 15-20% of the plants have the additional feature of a bright pink or maroon midrib on the undersurface of the leaf, producing an effect we'd never seen or heard of.
        No. 543 R. keiskei. Growing with No. 541. Another cliff dweller, often from rock cracks, and notably graceful. R. keiskei varies but little in all the different places we have seen it, and the only slight distinction of this stand was rather long, narrow, clean-looking foliage. Seed sparse.
        No. 544 R. metternichii. From central granite mountain range separating the east and west Kumano Gorges, along a newly-built road from Teragaijo, just off Highway 169, to a point south of Totsukawa on Highway 168. Nara Prefecture. November 7th. Elev. 750-900 m. (2460-2950 ft.) Rhododendrons to be seen everywhere along this road for 7 kilometers or more. Much like No. 541.


Volume 26, Number 1
January 1972

DLA Ejournal Home | QBARS Home | Table of Contents for this issue | Search JARS and other ejournals