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Article 6 

The scientific nomenclature for "kakko-so", "Primula kisoana," first appeared 130 years ago, in 1867. The co-author of Flora Japonica, J.G. Zuccarini, died in 1848. Siebold, himself, passed away in 1866. Their work was passed on to Friedrich Anton Wilhelm Miquel (1811-1871).

As the second director of the Rijksherbarium, Miquel undertook an extensive investigation of the specimens. Writing "An Essay on Japanese Botany" in the Rijksherbarium Annual, he recorded that there were four varieties of primula. Among them, two (kakko-so and osakura-so) were new varieties which he himself named. They were "Primula kisoana" and "Primula ezoana," both of which names remained valid when the International Agreement on Nomenclature was later approved. Scientific Type, was based on a specimen catalogue which Siebold had carried back from Japan.

A subsequent work of Miquel's, Catalogue, published in 1870, proved to be an immensely valuable tool for later scientists. In this work, Miquel complied the number of specimens contributed by Siebold and his collaborators, Keisuke Ito, Sukeroku Mizutani, Burger, and Maximowicz for each species. In the Catalogue, "kisoana" is identified as K (Keisuke)1. However, as was explained in a previous article, we now know that this specimen was actually contributed by Sukeroku. However, this does not change the fact that there is indeed only one kisoana.

One hundred and thirty years have now passed and a newspaper journalist has traveled from Japan in search of one specimen in particular among the vast collection of over 4 million specimens. Both Prof. Kalkman and Ms. Kofman are mystified by my search. "According to Siebold, the plant was said to be native to Kiso, however, there is no other record establishing Kiso as its native environment. At present, Mt. Narukami in my hometown, Kiryu, is the only place on earth where one can find this plant. And now, the plant has become an endangered species. The specimens have been so carefully preserved over the years, thanks to the efforts of so many..." I found it difficult to confess that we have allowed the living plant itself to become on the brink of extinction.

The "Kakko-so Preservation Society" (Yoichi Asakura, President) is proceeding with a new project. It is their plan to donate a new specimen to the Rijksherbarium. As the season for blossoming approaches on Mt. Narukami, its native home, they hope to support international research by contributing this second specimen. Fortunately, the new archival facilities in Leiden still have room to accommodate new contributions.

Recently, there has been considerable research involving DNA analysis. If two strands are available, they can be studied in comparison. This new specimen, added to the first, may prove to be a most valuable tool for future comparative research studies. It goes without saying that at the same time, we must not allow this plant to become extinct.


Copyright (C) 2000 by Akiko Minosakii , Barbara Kamiayama
& Orijin Studio Miyamae
Kiryu Gunma 376-0046 Japan