Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi) name question

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by SSivertz, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. SSivertz

    SSivertz Member

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    The Japanese common name of Larix kaempferi is "karamatsu", which translates as "foreign pine" or "Chinese pine". Pine/larch confusion aside, why would the species be referred to as "foreign" when it is native to Japan? Is there some historical reason?
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Curious! Could 'Kara' have other meanings?
     
  3. SSivertz

    SSivertz Member

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    "Karamatsu" always seems to be translated as "Chinese pine", in everything from forestry publications to Japanese literature.
     
  4. JT1

    JT1 Contributor

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    It's my understanding...(disclaimer, my understanding, as a Westerner, may not be exactly on point with the Japanese)

    The origin of "Chinese pine" came from the resemblance the Japanese larch Karamatsu (唐松) has to Li Tang's paintings of Chinese pines. It's not that the Japanese larch is native to a foreign land or that it is literally a Chinese pine. The old Japanese writings and descriptions of Japanese Larch use well known symbols, characters, and even art to visually describe the resemblance and character of the Japanese Larch. So if you do a Google search of Li Tang or 李唐, you will see "some" of his paintings of Chinese pines resemble the Japanese Larch.

    Li Tang (1050-1130) is a very well know landscape painter, known for his works of landscapes featuring Chinese pines. Since the norm in the West is to know little about his works, he is actually very well known in the East. So when they describe larch as Tang's pine or Chinese pine, it makes perfect sense to those in the East. But to the rest of us it seems to make no sense at all, until you research it further or have a fluent understanding in Japanese culture and Chinese art. Hope this makes sense...

    Here is a link to a Japanese page on the Japanese Larch and its meaning:
    http://www.shinrin-ringyou.com/tree/karamatu.php
    (you can use Google chrome to translate)

    Here is a link to more information on Li Tang:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Tang_(painter)
    (although this page has information on Li Tang, it has few examples of his works. If you want a good sampling of his works, do a Google image search of Li Tang or 李唐)
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  5. SSivertz

    SSivertz Member

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    That makes a lot of sense, thanks.
     

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