I walk by these plants very often. They have prettily shaped lobed leaves, dark green and leathery. But this week, some strange looking flowers have popped up so I took some pictures. It is called the Yatsude in Japanese and Fatsia japonica or Japanese Fatsia or the False Castor Oil Plant  in English. Japan Times article by Linda Inoki tells us lots about the plant:

The plant is called Yatsude in Japanese, also quirkily, the “Tengu’s fan”. Fatsia japonica is its scientific name. Other common names are Japanese Fatsia or False Castor Oil Plant.

Japanese Fatsia / yatsude

Japanese Fatsia / yatsude

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I walk by these plants very often. They are popular in urban cities because they have pollution-absorbing power. They have prettily shaped lobed leaves, that are dark green and leathery. But this week, some strange looking flowers popped up.

 

“Fatsia (Fatsia japonica) is one of the few plants that blooms in winter, producing globes of small, creamy-white flowers. To the human eye these are modest decorations, but to insects they offer food when other flowers are rare. Of course, this is a strategy for survival, as the insects pollinate the plant in winter and by the following spring the flowerheads have turned into small black berries. Fatsia is native to Japan, from where it was introduced to the West in the mid-19th century. There, it became a popular shrub and it is still widely grown both as a houseplant and in gardens. In mild climates, it can reach about 2.5 meters in height. Fatsia is admired for its architectural outline and striking evergreen leaves. These shiny, hand-shaped leaves are smaller at the top of the shrub and larger toward the base, which helps them to grab as much sunlight as possible, even in a shady spot. The Japanese name, yatsude, means “eight hands” (yatsu te), and, though this derives from the shape of the leaves, it is a bit odd, since the leaves always have seven, nine or 11 “fingers.” Another Japanese name is tengu no uchiwa, meaning “tengu’s fan,” because in folklore, the long-nosed mountain goblin, or tengu, carries a fan made from a fatsia leaf. Curiously, the English name is based on a mistake: An early botanist or plant-hunter misread the two kanji characters for yatsu and te as ha and shu, and this turned into fatsia. “

The Japan Times: Nov. 18, 2004
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