(Botanical name:Schima Wallichii ssp. liukiuensis )
The Meteorological Agency announced that the rainy season of Amami District started on May 22 this year. The flower of Iju, which is one of the most conspicuous in the fields and mountains during the rainy season, is full of idyllic charm. Iju belongs to the camellia family and is indigenous to Ryukyu (i.e. Amammian and Okinawan) Islands. An Iju tree is sometimes as tall as 20 meters. In olden times, it was used as house timber, especially for takakura (Amami's traditional storehouse) pillars.
The flower whose dense yellow stamens are surrounded by five white petals has a lovely sweetish smell. So Iju blossoms attract butterflies like Asagimadara and various other insects. The blossoms can be seen from mid-May to early July. I have once seen Iju honey in a jar produced in Okinawa, but never tasted it. I wonder what the flavor is like?
It is said that people formerly used the powdered Iju bark as a toxicant to catch fish. Small tide pools on the coral reefs at low tide were their targets.
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