Hime-yuri

Hime-yuri grows naturally in Japan, China, Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula and Amur Oblast, Russia.   It usually grows in sunny mountainous areas and grasslands.   In Japan, it is found across the Main Island the south of southern Tohoku Region, Shikoku Region and Kyushu Region.   However, it does not grow in Okinawa Prefecture.

The stem stands upright to grow from 30 to 80cm in height, sometimes reaching 100cm.   Hime-yuri has many leaves, which do not have any stem and are arranged in an alternate pattern.   The leaf blade is lanceolate, 5 to 10cm in length and 5 to 7mm in width.   Its tip is acuminate and its leaf margin has tiny semicircle projections.   Both sides of the leaf are hairless.   The bulb is white, ovoid and 1.5 to 2cm in height and has a small amount of white scales.

From June to July, Hime-yuri forms a raceme at the tip of the stem where 1 to 5 flowers bloom.   However, a well-grown stock can bloom with 10 flowers.  The flower is star-shaped and blooms upwards.   Every part of the flower from the tepals to the pistil, except the ovary, is a vibrant vermilion red in colour, which comes from a carotenoid pigment.   The tepal has many dark reddish-brown stigmas at its base.   Whereas, the flower is varied in colour from vermilion red to orange red among various varieties.   The flower looks six-petaled but the tepals are classified into 3 sepals at the outer side (outer perianth) and 3 petals at the inner side (inner perianth).   Each tepal is oblanceolate, 3 to 4cm in length and 1 to 1.5cm in width.   One stamen is attached to the end of each tepal.   Meaning there are 6 stamens in total, 3 on the outside and 3 on the inner side.   Each anther is attached in a T-shape.  The style is shorter than the overy.   The stigma is split into 3 and is sticky.

Hime-yuri is Endangered (EN).  It is thought that its population was originally small.   Therefore, the reduction of grasslands as a habitat and the collection being used for a horticultural purpose is a serious problem.   Therefore, it is thought that Hime-yuri is judged to be at high risk of extinction in the near future.

There is the monument, "Himeyuri no to" (The Tower of Lilies) at the site of the trench in Itoman city Okinawa where the third surgery ward of the Okinawa Army Hospital was maintained.   It was built in 1946 for repose of sole of 227 Himeyuri students, who were conscripted as nurses and killed at the Battle of Okinawa.   The name Himeyuri came from the name of the school in-house magazine; "Otohime" meaning younger princess of the first Okinawa Prefectural Girls' Higher School and "Shirayuri" meaning white lily of Okinawa Teachers' School girls' division, which is unrelated to the plant, himeyuri.

Classification: Liliaceae Lilium
Scientific name: Lilium concolor (Houtt.) Salisb.
Japanese name: Hime-yuri
English Name: ---
Native locality: ---
Ecological description: Perennial
RDB : Endangered, EN (Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan)
Planting place: Japanese Garden
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