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Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Yamabuki (Kerria japonica)
By LINDA INOKI
I rarely repeat a plant in this column, but as it is now seven years since yamabuki was featured in "In Bloom," I think we can make an exception! The clear yellow flowers of yamabuki (Kerria japonica) are one of the loveliest sights of the Japanese spring. The flowers are about 4 cm wide, and tend to open flat. They are borne on graceful, arching stems and seem to dance like butterflies among the fresh green leaves. Since ancient times, kerria has been a recurring motif in Japanese poetry, and the flower also crops up in textile designs and family crests. This deciduous shrub is native to China and Japan, and it is still a common sight in the Japanese countryside, growing at the edge of forests and on riverbanks. It is also a very popular plant that's easy to grow in temperate gardens around the world. One of the most popular garden varieties is the double form, yae-yamabuki, or K. japonica florepleno, which has pom-pom flowers. Personally, though, I much prefer the single flowers. A mature shrub can grow over 2 meters high and to about 3 meters in width. In Japanese, yamabuki means "mountain spray," but unfortunately its English name is less poetic; "kerria" derives from the name of an English plant-hunter, William Kerr. However, since the shrub belongs to the rose family of plants, translators often overcome this difficulty by translating yamabuki as "yellow rose."