1876-1877 Contracted Collections in Japan


1876-1877 Contracted Collections in Japan

William Smith Clark

William Smith Clark. William Smith Clark Papers (RG 3/1-1867). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Cercidiphyllum japonicum

Image of 882*A , katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), on the Arboretum grounds, grown from seed collected by William S. Clark.

Botanist and academic administrator William S. Clark was contracted by the Japanese Government in 1876 to establish an agriculture school in Sapporo, on the island of Hokkaido. During his two years in Japan he corresponded with Arnold Arboretum Director C.S. Sargent, and made numerous collections on his behalf. Clark’s time in Japan and the seed collections he sent back to the United States in 1878 remain important pieces of the Arnold Arboretum’s early history. In fact, the seed shipments were one of the first which the Arnold Arboretum ever received, and were one of the first direct shipments from eastern Asia. In addition to seed collections, Clark collected 165 plants and 43 lichens for herbarium specimens and identification by Harvard University botanist Asa Gray.

Among the seeds received from Clark were those of katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala ssp. petiolaris), Sakhalin cork tree (Phellodendron amurense var. sachalinense), Euonymus fortunei var. radicans and notably, a form of the Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata) a highly ornamental species described in a 1912 Bulletin of Popular Information as, “one the most valuable plants introduced by the Arnold Arboretum.”

Additional Resources William S. Clark and David P. Penhallow – Collections from Sapporo Japan 1876-1877, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

“Bulletin No. 7” Bulletin of Popular Information June 14, 1911 [pdf].

William Smith Clark Papers, 1814-2003 from the Special Collections & University Archives UMass Amherst Libraries