A Japanese Naturalist Documents Their Country's Native Plants - Observation of the Week, 7/6/20

Our Observation of the Week is this Aquilegia buergeriana var. buergeriana flower, seen in Japan by @skycat!

[skycat doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Japanese, so both of us relied on Google Translate here. I’ve cleaned up Google Translate’s version of  skycat’s responses, hopefully not too much was lost in translation in either direction.]

“I've always loved living things since I was a kid, and I used to collect beautiful flowering plants from nearby mountains and grow them at home,” recalls skycat. That passion continued into adulthood, and they’ve been gardening for quite some time now. 

After years of looking at plants that have been bred to be pretty, skycat now wants to show off the beauty of wild plants as well, and has been photographing plants unique to Japan, hoping to one day see them become as popular as the standard garden plants from the country, such as the Golden-rayed Lily (ヤマユリ) and the Japanese Camellia (ヤブツバキ).

One such plant is the native Aquilegia buergeriana, which skycat says is widely distributed in Japan’s mountainous regions. Many members of this species have red sepals, but skycat says in the Tokai region, where they reside, the flowers have whitish-yellow sepals. 

The genus Aquilegia, known in English as “columbines”, contains around 70 species and is native to the northern hemisphere, especially in areas of higher elevation. The flowers of this genus are striking, with five sepals and five petals. The petals have five nectar spurs reaching past the back of the flower, giving the columbine flowers a distinctive look.

skycat tells me they use iNaturalist as a record of “my own images taken in the past. 

I like the fact that I can easily retrieve past images...I take photos so that other people could understand not only the flowers of the plant, but also the leaves, the overall appearance, and the way it appears in its habitat. As I have used iNaturalist, I’ve begun to carefully observe even smaller flowering plants that I had not noticed before.

- by Tony Iwane


- The U.S. Forest Service has a thorough article about the co-evolution of North American columbine flowers and their pollinators (primarily hawk moths and humming birds in North America).

- Differences in columbine nectar spur length are due not to the number of cells in the spur, but to the elongation of those cells.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, July 07, 2020 04:42

Comments

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Columbines are elegant flowers, and this is a very delicate one. Thank you skycat!

Posted by susanhewitt 28 days ago (Flag)
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Great photos and article

Posted by yayemaster 28 days ago (Flag)
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Thank you for your introduction. Thank you, susanhewitt and ivanort for comments.

Posted by skycat 28 days ago (Flag)
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You are welcome @skycat

Posted by yayemaster 28 days ago (Flag)
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Columbines are one of my favorite flowers. I love finding them in the wild, and this is a particularly beautiful specimen.

Posted by nataliewaddellrutter 28 days ago (Flag)
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Wow! Beautiful!

Posted by allycouch 28 days ago (Flag)
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I love Japanese plants. Never seen this species though during the two trips there I've done. Next time. Great photo.

Posted by conuropsis 28 days ago (Flag)
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Thank you everyone. conuropsis, this flower can be seen in Kirigamine, Nagano prefecture in July. Many highland plants can be seen in this place, so be sure to come back when the corona is over.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/35686457

Posted by skycat 28 days ago (Flag)
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Very beautiful! Thank you for sharing your plants with us.

Posted by milliebasden 28 days ago (Flag)
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So beautiful! I love how skycat is interested in flowers of Japan and looking at their observations I was really impressed. Amazing job, and lovely flowers :)

Posted by hmoranmac 27 days ago (Flag)
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Such wonderful photos. I love your promotion of wild plants.

Posted by carolynstewart 27 days ago (Flag)
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Thank you skycat and Tony Iwane for this post. What a lovely idea and collaboration to share, I thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning about this.

Posted by grechan 27 days ago (Flag)
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Thank you tiwane and skycat. I’m glad to say that you've featured Japan's native plants.

Posted by utchee 24 days ago (Flag)

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