The season has arrived at Rokkō Alpine Botanical Garden in Hyogo Prefecture when you can see the “phantasmal” hydrangea known as the shichidanka.
The shichidanka is a type of hydrangea serrata, also known as “mountain hydrangea.” It is known for its distinct double-flowering. Its ten or so sepals give it a beautiful star shape. Its delicate form has earned the plant much popularity in the gardens where it blooms in two locations.
As well as this flower, several other hydrangeas are now in bloom or soon to be in bloom a the garden too which are making their way to Japanese social media. Let’s take a look at some of the various hydrangeas you can see there.
Shichdanka (Hortensia serrate var.serrata f.prolifera)
This flower stands at 1 to 1.5 meters tall. The flower appears in Philipp Franz von Siebold’s studies of Japanese flora and fauna during the Edo Period, but its existence subsequently became unnoticed until 1959 where it was discovered by chance at Mount Rokkō. The flowers were then cut and planted and seedlings spread across various places. The flower, which was given the name “mountain hydrangea,” took on a beautiful blue colour as a result of acid soil from caused by granite. It can be enjoyed in full bloom right now until mid-July.
Himeajisai (Hortensia cuspidata f.cuspidata) [Blooming: June – July 2019]
Also known as the “garden hydrangea,” the himeajisai is recognisable for its shape which is like a temari – a type of toy ball from Japanese folk art. It was given its name by Japanese botanist Tomitaro Makino in 1929. It is strong and durable against hot and dry weather and takes on a gorgeous blue colour when grown in soil with a high level of acidity.
Amagiamacha (Hortensia serrata var.angustata) [Blooming: June – July 2019]
This delicate, sweet-smelling flower has thin leaves that grow no longer than 10cm. Since long ago this flower has not been used as a sweetener in hydrangea tea but instead during the manufacturing process of soy sauce for its embalming effect. It has also been used to prevent mould and mildew from building up. Not only that, the flower has also been combined in home remedies such as mouth fresheners and toothpaste for its sweet flavour. Locals also use it for balancing sweetness and acidity with daikon pickled vegetables.
Tamaajisai (Platycrater involucrata) [Blooming: August 2019]
The tamaajisai grows natively across the Kanto region to Gifu Prefecture. It blooms in mountainous regions that have a high level of humidity. Its leaves’ surface have thick and hard hairs on them. They get the tama (“Ball” in Japanese) in their name for their ping pong ball-like buds. During wartime the flower was also used as a substitute for tobacco and so it also gets the name “mountain tobacco.” The flower is popular for its appearance just before its full bloom too.
Visit Rokkō Alpine Botanical Garden this summer to see all of the different hydrangeas on show.
Rokkō Alpine Botanical Garden
Location: Rokkō Alpine Botanical Garden (Kitarokkō-4512-150 Rokkōsanchō, Nada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture)
Price: General (12+ Years) ¥620 / Children (4-11 Years) ¥310
Opening Period: March 16, 2019 – November 24, 2019 (Closed September 5 and September 12)
Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 (Reception desk closes at 16:30)
Official Website: http://www.rokkosan.com
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