Orychophragmus violaceus

Hanadaikon closeup

Beauty passed by (April 2001)


Hanadaikon (kanji)

On wasteland I thought it was about time this plant got the glossy photo treatment! It grows as a weed around here - the specimen above was in the patch of wasteland right in the middle of Sano, that you see on the right.

The most difficult thing about this plant is its name. I've heard it called hanadaikon ("flower-daikon"), but other names include Ooaraseitou, Murasaki-hana-na ("purple-flower-rape"), Shikinsou ("purple-gold-plant"), and Shokatsusai (the Chinese name). It is a member of the Brassicaceae, the large family that includes vegetables such as cabbages and radishes. Of course, daikon is the name of the giant Japanese radishes, known in British supermarkets as "mooli radish", another member of the family. (The old name of this family, Cruciferae, refers to the distinctive cross-shaped arrangement of the petals.)

At least, I hope this is right - by searching in Japanese for hanadaikon I also found claims that it refers to Hesperis matronalis, or sweet rocket. This at least would explain the entry I found in Kenkyusha's Japanese-English dictionary, which gives "dame's violet, [gilliflower, rocket]; sweet rocket." Well, some web searching suggests that "my" hanadaikon is quite similar to this sweet rocket, but I'm fairly sure it has no strong scent. So it seems unlikely to be a secret invader from Europe.

Orychophragmus violaceus is native to China, and was apparently introduced to Japan in the Edo era (1650ish to 1850ish) as a decorative plant, but has since escaped to the wild. I find fragmentary references to eating it, but nothing very concrete. I also found the name "Chinese Violet Cress" together with the Latin, which suggests it may be grown in the West as an exotic herb of some sort. Generally, though, it seems doomed to be ignored.

I did find comments on Japanese pages about the attractiveness of the flowers in a mass, and ah, that's it! One of the most amazing sights of southern England is that of a beech wood in spring, when to the exquisite backlit effect of the emerging leaves is added the blue haze of a mass of floating bluebells. And even if there are no beech woods near here, this is surely the "bluebell" of Japan.

Like a cloud of bluebells



In English

(I'm working on it!)

In Japanese

Hishiyama-san: Hanadaikon page - much of my information came from this page. It's part of a site based in the Tama region - on the west edge of the Kanto plain - which unfortunately isn't exactly easy to navigate. It's in the 2000 plant index - there is one per year: 1997/98 1998/99 1999/2000 2000/01 2001

Kouno-san titles his page with one of the other names: Murasakihanana.

Hesperis matronalis - This page actually implies that hanadaikon-zoku is the name of the genus Hesperis. So very strictly this may have been the original use of the name.


© Brian Chandler 2001
This page is copylefted
Feedback: Guestbook - Email - Snailmail - Linking

The Imaginatorium
Home - Search - Site map
Shop - jigsaw puzzles and maps from Japan

Back to
Sano Gallery - Plant-Watcher's Page - Japanese

Other departments
Brian's Bookshelf
Web Stuff
My digital art - The Artofar-

Japanese plant photoguides - this is in Haru-no-hana, p. 218

Created November 2001 - WDG validated