Japanese Pieris
Japanese pieris is an evergreen tree and an endemic species in Japan which grows naturally in the mountains of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.
This plant prefers a semi-arid environment and grows from 1.5 up to four meters in height.   The leaf is thick and lustrous and single leaves alternate on either side of the stem around its end.
Around September, this plant buds in clusters that bloom from May to June.   Japanese pieris is very beautiful in full bloom just as if flower clasters were covering the tree.   The flower is urceolate* and the petals are fused into an urn shape, separating into five parts at the mouth of the flower.   This flower has a small opening therefore it can be resistant to deformation caused by an externally applied force.   The flower has two brown spine-like processes on the back of the anther by which the pollen can be easily dispersed.   The dispersion is generated by the movement of insects which come to consume nectar.   In autumn, contrary to the flower, this plant bears capsules upwards.   The fruit is torn into five to release numerous small seeds.
Japanese pieris is a poisonous plant which contains neurotoxic diterpenoid, grayanotoxin throughout the whole stock.   Its Japanese name, Asebi (combining three kanji for "horse" and "drunk") comes from the situation in which a horse gets food poisoning resulting in a state of drunkenness after having eaten the plant's leaves.   Many herbivorous mammals avoid eating Japanese pieris, which is why this tree sometimes grows in a relatively large number in herbivore neighborhoods.   Nara Park, a public park located in the city of Nara, is an example of the case, where deer eat trees except from Japanese pieris.
On the other hand, Japanese pieris and Japanese Azalea (Rhododendron molle G.Don) are a larval food plant for Arichanna gaschkevitchii (Motschulsky, 1861).   The toxic components which the larva of the moth gets from leaves are still kept in the imago for chemical defense.   Thanks to this, the moth resists to be preyed upon.

* urceolate - literally means "shaped like an urn or pitcher", with a swollen middle and narrowing top.
Classification: Ericaceae Pieris
Scientific name: Pieris japonica (Thunb.) D. Don ex G. Don
Japanese name: Asebi
English Name: Japanese Pieris
Native locality: Japan
Ecological description: Evergreen shrub
RDB : ---
Planting place: Gassho line, the south of Hinoki Cypress Forest
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