Translated by Hilary Keyes
The Flower Of Early Summer: Rainy Season And Hydrangeas
Written by Ito Kentaro
Rainy season might make you picture dark, dull days full of muggy, mosquito-filled weather, but hydrangea bloom during this season, coloring the streets of Japan in vivid shades of pinks, purples, and blues.
Although rainy season can be full of muggy days and damp nights, there is one bright spot to this potential month of rain: ajisai, or hydrangeas, in bloom. These vividly colored, round clusters of flowers dot the streets and alleyways of Japan, and are the perfect cure for rainy day blues in June.
Photo by: Yoko Nekonomania on Flickr
These are the best things to see if you start feeling down because of the rain. Read on to discover more about this beautiful flower.
Hydrangeas Are Poisonous?!
Photo by Takuma Kimura on Flickr
"Every rose has its thorn" also applies to the hydrangea. These beautiful flowers are mildly toxic to humans and animals; their leaves especially contain cyanogenic glycosides (related to the poison, cyanide), and if absorbed by the body, will cause nausea, vomiting, and/or dizziness after about half an hour of ingestion. You would need to ingest a lot in order for these effects to become especially serious, but no one wants to spend their time being ill, so please keep an eye on your children and pets if you go to view these flowers.
While there are plenty of edible flowers in Japan, this definitely isn't one of them!
The Various Shades of Hydrangeas
Photo by: naitokz on Flickr
In most countries, hydrangeas are typically white flowers, or some have a slight green tint to their petals, but many first time visitors to Japan are surprised at the variety of colors they come in. While this depends on what species of hydrangea is being viewed, the color of a hydrangea is largely affected by the amount of aluminum ions in the soil: acidic soils will produce blue to purple flowers, while alkaline soils will produce pinks and reds.
There Are How Many Kinds?!
Photo by naitokz on Flickr
There are over 50 different species of hydrangea found in the world, with seven types along being commonly cultivated in Japan. Within the category of hydrangeas however, there are two large divisions that these flowers fall into. There are ornamental types, which do not breed, and others that have bisexual flowers, which do breed. Breeding hydrangeas are recognized by the small dense clusters that grow in the center of the large "flower" part - it is this colorful bit with the petals that is actually just the ornamental side of a hydrangea.
If you happen to be visiting Japan in June, make sure to keep an eye out for wild and cultivated hydrangea all around the city. You're sure to find some that come in colors you might not have imagined possible!