【赤鬼のつぶやき C.W.ニコル】ハイイヌガヤ /PLUM YEW (学名Cephalotaxus harringtonia var. nana)

 学名Cephalotaxus harringtonia var. nana――こんな小さな木に、ずいぶん大層な名前をつけたものです。和名は「ハイイヌガヤ(這犬萱)」、イヌガヤ科イヌガヤ属の常緑低木で、日本と韓国が原産地です。イヌガヤは高さ10メートルに達することもありますが、多雪地帯に適応したイヌガヤの変種であるハイイヌガヤは枝が横へ広がるように伸びるのが特徴で、高さも1-2メートル止まりです。成長もとてもゆっくりで、アファンの森に生息するハイイヌガヤは高さ1メートルくらいです。






PLUM YEW – Cephalotaxus harringtonia var. nana

What a big name for such a little tree, called ‘hai inugaya’ in Japanese. It is native to both Japan and Korea. This evergreen tree can grow up to ten metres high, with widely spreading branches, but it grows very slowly and the ones we have in our Afan woods are only a metre or so in height. The Harrington name comes from the Earl of Harrington, who first cultivated these plum yews, brought over from Japan in the 1820’s. It has become quite popular with western gardeners. It is resistant to disease and insects, and does not easily spread, so it becomes a dark green ‘accent’ in a shaded garden.
This tree has both male and female plants, so if the female tree is to produce fruit it needs a male tree somewhere close. When in flower the male tree is covered in small, double flowers pale cream in colour. The female tree has pairs of small, knob like flowers at the base of shoots. It produces small, plum like fruit that are supposedly edible, although as yet I have not tasted any yet. The dark green leaves are in double ranks from the twigs, rather like bird wings.
In 2008 the tree was found to produce omacetaxine, a new drug used to treat leukemia.
As the young trees get pushed down by the snow and grow very slowly indeed, they will never grow big enough to be considered as a ‘tree’ rather than a nice little bush during my lifetime, but in a hundred years or so, there might be a few big plums yew trees growing in Afan. It gives me pleasure to imagine so.

Jan . 2019