緋寒桜

毎年1月15日頃になると、「沖縄では緋寒桜が咲き始めました」とニュースで伝えられる。いつか桜前線に沿って旅行をしてみたいものだと思っている私は、この1月の緋寒桜からスタートを切ることになるだろう。

緋寒桜、名前の通り色は緋色。実のところ私は、沖縄で開花する緋寒桜を「避寒桜」なんじゃないかと思っていた。何気に図鑑のページをめくっていると、

緋寒桜:
台湾、中国南部、ヒマラヤ原産。琉球列島では野生化し、新潟、関東以西の暖地で栽培可能。開花期二月から三月

と書いてある。なんと雪深い新潟でも沖縄に遅ればせながら咲くようだし、何といってもヒマラヤ原産とは…。最近では「彼岸桜」と紛らわしいため、「寒緋桜」とも呼ぶらしい。私にしてみれば、「寒さ」を吹っ飛ばすほどなんともおせっかいなことだと思えてくる。

大寒を迎えいよいよ寒さ本番となるこの頃、「緋寒」だろうが、「寒緋」だろうが、「…桜」と耳にした途端、いっぺんに春がやってきた。

Scarlet Sakura

Every year around 15 January, it is broadcast on the news that HiKan-zakura(Scarlet-Sakura) have began to blossom in Okinawa. I, who would like to travel sometime along the Sakura front, will probably make a start from this January's HiKan-zakura.
The HiKan-zakura's colour, true to its name, is scarlet. To tell the truth, I had thought that to bloom in Okinawa, HiKan-zakura could not be but HiKan-zakura(Staving-off-the-cold-Sakura). Casually turning over the pages of the illustrated reference book, it is written;

HiKan-zakura- Originates from Taiwan, the south of China, and the Himalayas. Grows wild on the Ryukyu archipelago, and is available for cultivation in Niigata prefecture and in the Kanto area. Term of blooming from February through March.

How surprising that it appears to blossom, albeit belatedly relative to Okinawa in the south of Japan, in such deeply snow-bound Niigata; after all, it does come from the Himalayas… Recently owing to confusion with "Higan-zakura"(flowers taken on the traditional, biannual visits to the cemetery), some may seem to call it rather "KanHi"(Cold-Scarlet)-sakura. To me, that's such a meddlesome thing to do, as if to throw off the "Coldness". Finally greeting Taikan (literally "Big-Cold") with a veritable coldness at that time, it could be "HiKan"(Scarlet-Cold), or it may as well be "KanHi" (Cold-Scarlet); no sooner had I heard "…Sakura" than Spring turned up all at once.