@A snapshot in the garden of a private home.
@A grown-up tree in full bloom in the wild.
@ A view of the upstream of the Sumiyo River.@
(botanical name: Rhododendron amamiense)
In the middle of March, flowers like white azaleas will begin to attract your attention in the yards of private homes in the southern part of our island. This is the AMAMISEISHIKA, indigenous to Amamioshima, though it belongs to the worldwide azalea family. This wild but noble azalea originally grows in the mountains and its population faces a sharp decline because of development and digging up of the plants. This has made their habitat very restricted. So if you want to see them in the wild, you will have to drive for hours on rough roads as far as the upstreams of the Sumiyo or Kawauchi Rivers.
One of its five petals has yellow green spots inside and the corolla as a whole is white with slight pink on it. Written in kanji it includes a character meaning "purple". But the actual color is nowhere near. Full-grown trees are as tall as six to seven meters. Some experts insist this is the same species as the SEISHIKA seen on Ishigaki Island, Okinawa Prefecture.
Gardeners propagate them by cutting, but available stocks are limlited. Besides keeping them in good shape is pretty difficult. I have bought a young potted plant three times so far, but each time it died. I wonder whether it is possible to propagate them by making use of biotechnology and replant them where they used to be.
|¦To enlarge, please click the photo.|