The Rural Carolinian, 5(4): 281-282 (Feb 1873)

The Floras of America and Japan

*Elliottia racemosa, Georgia plume

Professor Asa Gray in his late address before the American Association for the advancement of science*, points out some singular coincidences between the plants of the United States and those of Japan. Our Rhus toxicodendron, or poison-ivy, is exactly repeated in Japan, but is found in no other part of the world, although a species like it abounds in California. Our other species of Rhus (R. venenata,) commonly called poison-dogwood, is in no way represented in Western America, but has so close an alliance in Japan that the two were taken for the same by Thunberg and Linnaeus, who called them both R. vernix. Our Northern fox-grape, Vitis labrusca, is wholly confined to the Atlantic States, except that it reappears in Japan and that region. Wistaria was named for a woody leguminous climber, with showy blossoms; native of the Middle Atlantic States. The other species which we prize so highly in cultivation, W. sinensis, is from China, as its name indicates, or perhaps only from Japan, where it is certainly indigenous. There is a shrub, ellittia*, which is so rare and local that it is known only at two stations on the Savannah River, in Georgia. It is of a peculiar structure, and was without near relative until one was lately discovered in Japan. A specimen of a peculiar plant was detected in the herbarium of the elder Michaux, who collected it somewhere in the high Alleghany mountains, more than eighty years ago, since which no one has seen a living plant, or knows where to find one. At length the same plant is found in Japan. This close relation between the floras of the two countries may explain the mystery of our Japan Clover, (Lespedeza Striata) which, it is not unlikely, belongs to both.

*Popular Science Monthly 1: 724-734 (October 1872)