Tag Archive for 'Nippon Tsubaki ・ Sasanqua Meikan'

Asakura – a Japanese sasanqua with large flat semi-double white flowers and upright growing habit

Asakura (朝倉, あさくら) is a Japanese sasanqua cultivar with large, relatively flat semi-double white flowers and has a relatively vigorous upright growing habit. Asakura flower frequently has a pinkish edge early in the flower development. The stamens are relatively well developed, comparing to full double forms. It blooms relatively early. According to the book “Nippon Tsubaki – Sasanqua Meikan” (日本ツバキ・サザンカ名鑑), Asakura originated in Kurume City, Fukuoka Prefecture, and was named by Shunsuke Hisatomi. It is available in the United States from Nuccio’s Nurseries.

Asakura’s main “competitors” are Narumigata and White Doves (Mine-no-yuki). All three are fast growing with large white flowers.

Asakura versus Narumigata.

Narumigata flower is single, Asakura flower is semi-double.
Narumigata grows faster than Asakura, although Asakura is also a relatively fast growing.
Both Narumigata flower and Asakura flower have pink edges in the early stages of the flower development.

Asakura versus White Doves (Mine-no-yuki).

White Doves flower is fully double, Asakura flower is semi-double.
Asakura flower has a pinkish edge in its early stages, White Doves is completely white.
Asakura plant has a vertical habit, while White Doves is spreading.
Asakura flower is somewhat larger, more rounded, relatively more symmetrical and more flat than a typical flower of White Doves.

Comparing Asakuras with other sasanquas:
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Nokorika – a Higo sasanqua with a strong scent

According to the book “Nippon Tsubaki – Sasanqua Meikan” (日本ツバキ・サザンカ名鑑):

Nokorika. 残り香 (Lingering Perfume), from Kumamoto Pref.
Deep purplish red occasionally with slender white streaks, single, medium, very early. Leaves elliptic to narrowly elliptic, medium. Upright, vigorous. The original tree survives in Kumamoto City, designated and named by Higo Sasanqua Society in 1968.

I like this cultivar. It has an interesting color, strong scent and general elegance. It is rare and I will keep it. I found it in Reagan Nursery in Fremont, California in Spring 2009. The container had a label “Belmont Nursery” which is somewhat puzzling since Belmont Nursery does not carry this cultivar (see their list of sasanquas). According to their website they carry only the standard set of sasanquas similar to sasanqua offering from Monrovia.

Another interesting thing about this plant – it is a “Higo sasanqua”. Many people know about Higo japonicas originated by samurai clan Kumamoto and promoted in the West by Italian horticulturalist Franco Ghirardi.

See also mention of ‘Nokorika’ in http://www5e.biglobe.ne.jp/~yoshii/sazannkahinnshu/hinnshu1.htm


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Camellia sasanqua Tai-shuhai 大朱盃

Camellia sasanqua ‘Tai-shuhai’ 大朱盃 (たいしゅはい) meaning “Large Vermilion Cup”. According to Nippon Tsubaki ・ Sasanqua Meikan, Tai-shuhai came from Fukuoka Prefecture. The cultivar originated and named in Kurume in 1960s by Shunsuke Hisatomi.

I got the cutting of this cultivar from Nuccio’s Nurseries. When the plant started to bloom on January 20, 2009, I was amazed by the freshness of colors and the shape of its flower:

A book from the Japanese Camellia Society ‘The Nomenclature of Japanese Camellias and Sasanquas’


'The Nomenclature of Japanese Camellias and Sasanquas'. The Japanese Camellia Society.

“The Nomenclature of Japanese Camellias and Sasanquas” ( 日本ツバキ・サザンカ名鑑 , Nippon Tsubaki ・ Sasanqua Meikan) is another “must have” book for any serious sasanqua lover. This book was published in 1999 by the Japanese Camellia Society ( 日本ツバキ協会編 , Nippon Tsubaki Kyoukai Hen) and Seibundo Shinkosha Co. Ltd. ( 誠文堂 新光社 ). This book is a work of more than 50 people who collected high-quality photo pictures and information on more than 2200 japonica and 200 sasanqua cultivars.

The book consists of two volumes – a volume in Japanese with pictures and a volume with English translation, created under the supervision of Thomas J. Savige. Note that in the book “The Japanese Camellia Society” is referred as “The Japan Camellia Society”.

The book has a short preface (4 pages), telling the history of the Japanese Camellia Society and the history of the book publication.

The Japanese Camellia Society was formed after the WWII, shortly after the formation of the International Camellia Society in 1953. It was the time of worldwide surge of interest in camellia growing and hybridizing.

The first nomenclature publication “Japanese Camellias, a Collection of 1000 varieties” ( 日本の椿、千品種 , Nippon no tsubaki, Senhin-shu) was published in 1980, but it included only Camellia japonica ( 椿, tsubaki ) and had no infomation about sasanqua ( 山茶花 , sazanka).

After the International Camellia Society published a monumental International Camellia Register in 1993 with 22,000 cultivars, it became obvious that the Japanese nomenclature publication has to be updated. However, according to the Japanese Camellia Society, during the economic boom time, no Japanese publisher wanted to publish a camellia book, because of its low profitability – there were plenty of more profitable books around. So Japanese camellia lovers had to wait until the economy goes down!

After the preface, the book presents information about 2400 cultivars. Each cultivar’s information has a photo picture and a 100-Kanji description. Some cultivars have no photo pictures – they are described in the appendix. The description is brief and very informative – it describes the cultivar’s area of origin, color, shape, habit, name of the originator and first mention in the literature. I wish similar American publications (like Southern California Camellia Society) use the same style.

Finally, after more than 300 pages of cultivars, the book has a chapter about the camellia history (3 pages), an afterword (1 page), a translator’s note (1 page) and an index. I personally like this style because it is down to the point.

The chapter about camellia history is written by the President of the Japanese Camellia Society Dr. Kaoru Hagiya ( 薫屋薫 ). It contains an interesting thought about why Japanese people prefer single flowers while Westerners prefer double formal flowers: ”The fundamental difference is in that the Westerners treat flowers as kinds of decorations, while Japanese take flowers as the symbols of nature”.

The afterword is written by Shuho Kirino ( 桐野秋豊 ), a member of the editorial committee.

There is a translator’s note from Shigeo Matsumoto ( 松本重雄 ) who is asking forgiveness for his translation errors. I did find some ambiguities – for example, about the origin of ‘Shôwa-no-sakae’. However I personally like his style of translation because it has a feeling of the Japanese character. If the translator would be non-Japanese, the text would be less authentic.

Shigeo Matsumoto was using help from Thomas J. Savige from Australia who suggested to use Hepburn system in the translation according to the International Nomenclature Code. This is very important. Different books use different forms of English transliteration of Japanese names. For example ‘Shôwa-no-sakae’ is written as ‘Showa No Sakae’, or ‘Shishigashira’ is written as ‘Shishi Gashira’ or ‘Shishi Gashira’. It is important to understand that pronouncing “o” instead of “ô” may change the meaning of the word. However we are still using non-accented “o” on our www.sazanka.org web site because of English search engines. But the bottom line – “The Nomenclature of Japanese Camellias and Sasanquas” became for me the main reference for the proper name, pronunciation and the history of Japanese sasanqua cultivars.