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Rohdea japonica Roth Convallariaceae Distribution: Japan. It is a monotypic genus known as omoto in Japan, meaning ‘evergreen’. It is regarded as a symbol of long life and good fortune

  • Dr Henry Oakeley
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view Rohdea japonica Roth Convallariaceae Distribution: Japan. It is a monotypic genus known as omoto in Japan, meaning ‘evergreen’. It is regarded as a symbol of long life and good fortune

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Credit: Rohdea japonica Roth Convallariaceae Distribution: Japan. It is a monotypic genus known as omoto in Japan, meaning ‘evergreen’. It is regarded as a symbol of long life and good fortune. Dr Henry Oakeley. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first Shogun of the Edo period (1603–1867), took three plants with him to Edo Castle to ensure happy fortune. Its cultivation became such a craze in Japan that its sale was banned in 1852, but it remains hugely popular with 600 cultivars registered with the Japan Rohdea Society. It is used in Chinese medicine but is regarded elsewhere as being poisonous and best avoided. Named by Roth for his friend Michael Rohde (1782–1812). Rohde was a physician and botanist from Bremen whose doctoral thesis was on quinine, He died of typhoid in 1812, aged 30 (Oakeley, 2012). Photographed in the Medicinal Garden of the Royal College of Physicians, London.

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