The i-bara is a prolific bloomiferous plant though it isn’t planted quite as much as it should be, compared to the pampered garden varieties of roses. Posted below is a Japan Times feature on the native rose.
By LINDA INOKI
|Long ago I was full of pride, Crowned with nodding tresses, halcyon locks, I walked like a young willow delicately wafted By the winds of spring. I spoke with the voice of a nightingale that has sipped the dew. I was lovelier than the petals of the wild rose, open stretched In the hour before its fall.|
|From “Sotoba Komachi” by Kan’ami Kiyotsugu (1333-84), quoted in “The Noh Plays of Japan” by Arthur Waley (Charles E. Tuttle)|
On a warm day in May, the fragrant ibara, known as the Japanese wild rose, is a beautiful sight. Although each flower is very small, a single stem can carry as many as 400, held in graceful panicles of blooms. This outstanding feature delighted rose cultivators in the 19th century, and so Rosamultiflora became a parent to the modern multiflora roses we enjoy in gardens today. However, like Ono no Komachi, the proud and beautiful poetess above, the rose is not flawless — though similarly, through no fault of its own. This is because millions of these hardy roses were planted on American farms in the 1940s-’60s to prevent soil erosion. However, as a single shrub can produce half a million seeds a year, without hindrance from native insect enemies the plants quickly formed dense and thorny thickets in pastures and on roadsides and forest margins. Although birds and deer like to eat the rose hips, this only spreads the plants even further, and the beautiful Japanese wild rose is now classified as a “noxious weed” in more than 10 American states. It just proves the old saying: “Every rose has its thorn!” It is also yet another example of the danger of introducing alien species to regions where nature had not intended them to be.
Thursday, May 19, 2005, Japan Times