1892 Journey to Japan


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1892 Journey to Japan

In July of 1892 Charles S. Sargent traveled to Japan with his nephew, Philip Codman, to botanize and collect seeds and herbarium specimens from Hokkaido and northern Honshu. His objective was not only to observe and collect from the Japanese flora, but also to compare the morphological similarities of plants from eastern Asia and eastern North America (known as the study of biogeography). During this trip, Sargent and Codman met the Englishman James Herbert Veitch, owner of Veitch Nurseries. At the time, the Veitch family owned one of most prominent plant nurseries in Europe, and James Veitch was exploring for new plants in the wild and at botanical gardens. The trio accompanied each other for some time, Sargent and Veitch expressing to one another their interest in the Chinese flora and their desires to botanize in that region. In fact, by the end of the decade, Veitch would commission fellow countryman Ernest Henry Wilson to travel to China to explore its botanical riches, after first stopping in Boston to consult Sargent.

Sargent and Codman returned to Boston in December with approximately 200 seed collections, and 1,225 herbarium specimens. Among the more notable collections were the Anise magnolia (Magnolia salicifolia) and the torch azalea (Rhododendron kaempferi), although perhaps the most notable were the early-flowering hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Praecox’) and what was later named the Sargent crabapple (Malus sargentii).

Additional Resources

Pfieffer, Sue A. “Early Bloomer: Hydrangea paniculata ‘Praecox.’” 2007. Arnoldia 67 (1) [pdf].

Sargent, Charles Sprague. Forest flora of Japan. Notes on the forest flora of Japan. 1894.

“Camellias, Chinese New Year, Samurai Warriors, and the Arnold Arboretum.” 1986. Arnoldia 46 (1) [pdf].