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Katakuri (Erythronium japonicum; Japanese: 片栗) is a pink-flowered species trout lily, belonging to the Lily family and native to Japan, Korea and northeastern China. It is a spring ephemeral, blooming April–June in woodlands.
Applying the name trout lily may be somewhat of a misnomer, because in the Japanese species, the individual plant may or may not exhibit the flecked dark markings on the leaves, which is emblematic of that common name (see gallery below).
There is mixed reporting on whether it should be regarded as endangered in Japan. One source adds it to a list of wildflowers that should be included as endangered. But the so-called Eco kentei(ja) or environmental specialist certification, run by the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry(ja) (TCCI), has had an exam question in the past, where the correct answer to "Is katakuri an endangered " was "no". The Japanese ministry (MOE)'s version of Red Data Book has not handed down an assessment of the whole species, even though in the RDB compiled by individual prefectures, its satus is evaluated at "near threatened" (jun-zetsumetsu kigu shu) in Hyogo and Mie, and rated vulnerable-endangered in Shikoku, southern Kanto.
It has been pointed out that this woodland plant is more vulnerable, since it has a very short season and is slow-growing. It needs to grow into a 7-8 year old plant before it finally blooms. So they will not rebound in numbers once taken. In Niiharu (Midori-ku, Yokohama), the colony was entire wiped out (poached) overnight shortly after media coverage about it blooming in the area.
A colony that can be viewed within the confines Metropolitan Tokyo is at Shimizuyama-ikoi-no-mori(ja) which translates approximately to "Shimizuyama grove of respite", in Nerima-ku. This is somewhat in the neighborhood of the Tomitaro Makino memorial garden which also has a small number of plants planted.
The katakuriko (片栗粉 "katakuri powder"?), is a starch that bears the name of this plant, which originally refers to the starch from the Erythronium japonicum bulb. Because of its small quantity, starch from Erythorium japonicum is no longer common, potato starch has almost taken its place nowadays and only the name remains.
This plant is not known to be farmed, and has been harvested from wild colonies by poachers, but probably not by seekers of starch source but by wildflower enthusiasts or traffickers.
A cyberspace rumor has it that the true katakuri starch is available as Traditional Chinese medicine though exorbitantly expensive, but it is hard to find any reference that says it has any extraordinary potency, so it probably would not be prescribed by any honest-dealing pharmacists. Some books say this is sanjiko (山慈姑 "yama-kuwai"?), but this is apparently a mistake for the amana (Tulipa edulis).
The rumor that it is used in wagashi, particularly in the confection called katakuri-rakugan is apocryphal, since historian Kahei Mori(ja) states that this confection, which used to be traditionally presented to Morioka Domain, was made from the starch of lily bulbs.
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- Okui 2005
- eco検定合格プロジェクト (2010). eco検定問題集決定版過去問・一問一答・模擬|秀和システム., p.199
- Association of Wildlife Research; EnVision (2007). "Red Data Book search (Erythronium japonicum)". Retrieved April-2012. . yellow=jun-zetsumetsu kigu shu(NT); orange=絶滅危惧IB (VU); mauve=絶滅危惧I (EN/CR). See ja:template:生物分類表
- Kogure 2011
- Cf. Kogure 2011. The author does not explicit state this for the case of the apprehended poacher, but it is implicit, as it carries over from his discussion concerning the impact of poaching on orchids (shunran, ebine etc.) and other countryside species.
- e.g., Nanba, Tsuneo (難波恒雄) (1970). 漢方薬入門(Kanpōyaku nyūmon). Hoikusha., though not an authority, gives no mention
- Mori, Kahei(森嘉兵衛) (1972). 岩手県の歴史 (history of Iwate Prefecture) (snippet). Yamakawa Shuppansha(山川出版社). p. 62. 「藩の献上菓子たる片栗落雁(百合根からとった殿粉によって製した菓子)とともに有名な献上品である。」
- Kogure, Katsuji(小暮勝治) (2011). 里山讃花: 私の花散歩・自然観察記 (Satoyama sanka: watashi no hana sanpo / shizen kansatsuki) (preview). Bungeisha(文芸社. ISBN 4887377045. ISBN 9784887377042., p. 149-150
- Okui, Noriyuki(奥井則行) (2005). 環境教育の試み: 身近な生物的自然を活用して(Kankyo kyoiku no kokoromi: mijika na seibutsu-gaku teki shizen wo katsuyo shite). Bungeisha(文芸社). pp. 88–90. ISBN 4835585976. ISBN 9784835585970.