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猪牙花 zhu ya hua
Katakuri (Erythronium japonicum; Japanese: 片栗) is a pink-flowered species trout lily, belonging to the Lily family and native to Japan, Korea, the Russian Far East (Sakhalin Island, Kuril Islands) and northeastern China (Jilin and Liaoning). It is a spring ephemeral, blooming April–June in woodlands.
Erythronium japonicum has a stem up to 20 cm long, although as much as 30% of the stem may be underground. Bulb is elongated, up to 6 cm long but rarely more than 1 cm wide. Laves are broadly elliptical to lanceolate, the blade up to 12 cm long and 7 cm wide. Flowers are solitary, rose-colored.
Applying the generic common 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).
Reporting is mixed 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 the Red Data Book has not handed down an assessment of the whole species, even though in the Red Data Book compiled by individual prefectures, its status is evaluated at "near threatened" (jun-zetsumetsu kigu shu) in Hyogo and Mie, and rated vulnerable-endangered in Shikoku and southern Kanto.
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 will not rebound in numbers once taken. In Niiharu (Midori-ku, Yokohama), the colony was entirely wiped out (poached) overnight shortly after media coverage about it blooming in the area.
A colony that can be viewed within the confines of 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 E. japonicum bulb. Because of its small quantity, this starch is no longer common; potato starch has taken its place and name nowadays.
This plant is not known to be farmed, and has been harvested from wild colonies by poachers, but probably not by seekers of starch sources, but by wildflower enthusiasts or traffickers.
The plant powder was also used as ointment to treat rashes.
The rumor that it is used in wagashi, particularly in the confection called katakuri-rakugan is apocryphal, since historian Kahei Mori 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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- 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.
- "片栗粉". ブリタニカ国際大百科事典 小項目事典 at kotobank.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved August 5, 2015.
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- 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
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