【赤鬼のつぶやき C.W.ニコル】ズミ(Japanese crab apple)


 自宅の庭にも、アファンの森にもこの木があります。わたしの分厚い研究社和英辞典で「ズミ」を引いてみましたが、載っていませんでした。グーグルで検索すると、‘Japanese crab apple’と出てきて(ちなみに検索したコンピューターもAppleでした)すぐには理解できませんでした。というのも、わたしが子どもの頃から知っているcrab apple(野生のリンゴ)といえば、酸味がある、ジャムにとろみをつけるために使う別の種類の果樹のことだからです。英国の野リンゴはズミとは全く別のもので、学名はMalus toringoと呼ばれますが、19世紀にオランダ人のシーボルトがヨーロッパへ持ち帰ったものです。






 Zumi is one of my favourite local trees, quite common. It is a small tree, with lovely white or pink flowers, each little flower having five petals.

 It produces small, tasty fruit. Zumi grows both in my own garden and in our Afan woods.

 When I looked up ‘zumi’ in my big Kenkyusha Japanese-English dictionary, I couldn’t find it, but when I Googled ‘zumi’ on my computer (which, coincidentally is an ‘Apple’) it found the name ‘Japanese crab apple’ which at first confused me.

 I knew crab apples very well indeed as a boy.

 My Welsh grandmother would ask me to go and pick some when she was making jam.

 British wild crab apples are very sour, but they contain pectin, so they were used mixed in with other apples and different kind of fruit to ‘sharpen’ the flavor and to get the jam to turn into a kind of jelly when it cools.

 To me the British crab apple didn’t seem at all like zumi, whose scientific name is Malus toringo, which was sent back to Europe in the 19th. century by the Dutchman Siebold.

 There are 35 species of wild Malus, and many more cultivars. They are related to cultivated orchard apples.

 They are compact trees, also popular in gardens, and in Japan, used for bonsai.

 Their leaves and fruit attract butterflies and birds.

 Zumi wood has a pleasant smell, and although I haven’t tried it, I am sure it would be excellent for smoking food.

February 2018