落葉低木のアブラチャンは学名を「Parabenzoin praecox」といいます。長野に来て、はじめてこの木を知りました。この木も、これまでに英語の名称を見たことがありません。本州・四国・九州地方に自生する、アファンの森でもおなじみの木です。





C.W. ニコル


Aburachan is a shrub, a small deciduous tree with the scientific name of ‘Parabenzoin praecox.’ I cannot find an English name and I did not know it before coming to Nagano. Aburachan seed produces an oil pitch, which is aromatic and burns very well. It is native to Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu and is very common in our Afan woods.
 The aburachan shrub can grow to 3 to 6 metres. In spring, it has small yellow clusters of little flowers that are quite popular for exhibiting in ikebana (flower arranging). These attractive little flowers bloom before the shrub produces its ovate leaves. The flowers produce small green berries, which later turn brown. It has greyish green bark.
 Aburachan can be used traditionally to make chopsticks and the traditional round snowshoes called ‘kanjiki,’ Otherwise the wood can be used for kindling or fuel.
 Our staff has experimented in producing aromatic oil from aburachan, but the verdict was that the oil was just smelly and not fragrant. The oil is prepared by steaming and pressing, which produces dark brown oil that solidifies in the cold. The kernels of these seeds yield 29 to 40% oil, which is very high. The oil can be used for soap that is better than soap made from coconut oil. It is, however, far easier to gather a lot of coconuts. Even so, aburachan seeds have a potential for using in some kind of lighting, lamps for example.
 I myself used to get confused with aburachan and koshiabura, both of them plants that I had never heard of before I came to Japan.

July 2017