Pretty in Pink & Purple no. 3

Buddha’s Cushion, the dead nettle or lamium purpurea. You can see the bottom leaf, it looks like a cushion (at least a Japanese one) that you can sit on supposedly and that’s where it got its common name.

Read also about its relative the henbit nettle below:

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005
Hime-odoriko-so (Red deadnettle)
I had seen the little dancer twice before. Once I passed her and the other women by a long bridge halfway down the peninsula. She was carrying a big drum. I looked back and looked back again, congratulating myself that here, finally, I had caught the flavor of travel.
From “The Izu Dancer” by Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1971), quoted in “Japanese Short Stories,” edited by Theodore W. Goossen (OUP)

One of the first wild flowers of spring is a low-growing plant affectionately called “the little dancer.” Its name comes from its neat layers of leaves, which look like a Japanese girl overlapping her kimono sleeves in a dance. This plant (Lamium purpureum) is of European origin, but is now widespread in Japan, and you can find it growing in suburban parks as well as in country lanes. The native odoroki-so (L. Album var. barbatum) is taller than hime odoroki-so, and it bears white flowers flushed with pink. Unfortunately, it is not as common as it used to be. In England, an old name for these species is “archangel,” possibly because the small, tubelike flowers look like angels’ trumpets peeking out between the winglike leaves. According to John Gerard, England’s great 16th-century herbalist, archangel flowers were eaten “baked with sugar, as roses are,” while the floral water was used “to make the heart merry, to make a good colour [sic] in the face, and to refresh the vitall [sic] spirits.” Unlike true nettles, deadnettle plants do not sting the skin. Other plants in the deadnettle (Labiatae) family include henbit deadnettle, which is called hotoke-no-za (Buddha’s cushion) in Japan, and fragrant herbs such as mint and marjoram.

Japan Times


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