WHP Logo

The White Horse Press

Environment and History

Contents of Volume 16

Other volumes of E&H

Environment and History

Botanical Transculturation: Japanese and British Knowledge and Understanding of Aucuba japonica and Larix leptolepis 1700-1920

Setsu Tachibana and Charles Watkins

Environment and History 16 (2010): 43-71. doi: 10.3197/096734010X485292

Two species, Aucuba japonica and Larix leptolepis, introduced from Japan to Britain provide examples of different types of transculturation. We demonstrate the complexity of the interchange of Japanese and European knowledge of natural history in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The importance of this exchange and interaction was consciously underplayed by those recounting the discovery of plants by European collectors. We identify different modes of transculturation. Initially, most introduced plants are celebrated as exotic but after a period of testing the most popular plants become culturally assimilated. Some plants may, at a later stage, become physically hybridised. The hardiness of the plants was a crucial factor for successful cultural assimilation. In Britain, Aucuba japonica was initially celebrated as an exotic but over time became culturally assimilated, particularly in town and city gardens. Larix leptolepis also became assimilated through its economic timber value and became physically hybridised with the European larch in Scotland to produce Larix eurolepis.

KEYWORDS: Horticulture, Japan, Larix, Aucuba, Britain

This article is available online (PDF format) from ingenta. Access is free if your institution subscribes to Environment and History.
Reprints of this article can be ordered from the British Library

Contact the publishers for subscriptions and back numbers of Environment and History.

Other papers in this volume

The Old Vicarage, Winwick
Cambridgeshire, PE28 5PN, UK
Tel: +44 1832 293222