1977 Expedition to South Korea and Japan

Overview

1977 Expedition to South Korea and Japan

Carl Ferris Miller and Stephen Spongberg purchasing persimmons

Carl Ferris Miller and Stephen Spongberg purchasing persimmons from a Korean family at Yangpyong Myon, South Korea. Photograph by Richard E. Weaver, Jr.

Expeditions Unveiled Japanese Botanists 1977

Stephen Spongberg (far left) and Richard E. Weaver, Jr. (far right) with Japanese Botanists. Hokkaido, Japan 1977. Photographer unknown. From the Stephen Spongberg papers, Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.

The 1977 expedition to Japan and Korea represented the Arboretum’s renewed efforts to improve and expand the living collection through the acquisition of wild-collected seed. The trip was led by Horticultural Taxonomists Steven A. Spongberg and Richard E. Weaver, and it marked the Arboretum’s first foray into Japan and Korea since E.H. Wilson last explored the region in 1918. Spongberg described the trip as an opportunity to, “re-establish its contact and interests in [Japan and Korea]” and thus improve the Arboretums capacity to study and preserve temperate east Asian flora. The seed collected would not only improve the synoptic representation of plants in the living collection, but also the potential to induce hardy specimens of plants collected from the more rigorous and unforgiving environments of Japan and Korea.

The forty-three day trip covered sixty-three collection sites and resulted in 505 collections of seeds and live cuttings, representing 327 taxa, and 69 families. The burden of planning a one and half month long trip was eased by the help of Dr. Tadao Ui of the Hokkaido Univeristy in Sapporo and Dr. Kankichi Sohma of the Hohoku University in Sendai, Japan. In Korea, the guidance of Carl Ferris Miller, founder of the Chollipo Arboretum, was indispensable to the success of the expedition. Spongberg later said of Miller, “the opportunity to meet and learn to know and love an astounding and generous man was one of the greatest rewards of our trip…” Both Spongberg and Weaver recognized the value of a collaborate approach to exploration, and this appreciation is represented in the numerous thank you letters and correspondences held in the Arboretum Archives.

Additional Resources
Expeditions Univeiled purchasing persimmons in Korea

Carl Ferris Miller and Stephen Spongberg purchasing persimmons from a Korean family at Yangpyong Myon, South Korea, 1977. Photograph by Richard E. Weaver, Jr.

Papers of Stephen A. Spongberg, Archives of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University [HOLLIS].

Spongberg, Stephen A., Weaver, Richard E., Jr. “Collecting Expedition to Japan and Korea.” Arnoldia 38:1, 1978 [pdf].

Weaver, Richard E., Jr. “Japanese Journal.” Arnoldia 38:3, 1978 [pdf].

Spongberg, Stephen A. “Korean Adventure.” Arnoldia 38:4, 1978 [pdf].