Rohdea japonica Roth

with AKEBONO FU variegation
planted in a decorative pot
which is called NISHIKI BACHI

Family: Convallariaceae Japanese name: OMOTO
English name: Japanese sacred lily
Plant type: evergreen, foliage plant
Flower: green, not so showy. Bears red berries in winter
Habitat: under forest trees, all over Japan
Blooming season: May Height: 20-50cm

I heard that this species is called "Japanese sacred lily" in
English. Actually, this is a special plant for the Japanese and
attracts a huge following, created by the enthusiasts for hundreds
years. I can also say that the Japanese have created the world of
traditional pot plants based on OMOTO cultivation. It is said that
OMOTO came from O MOTO (big base) since it has a thick leaf
base. In the olden times, this plant was utilized as a diuretic.
Furthermore, OMOTO was introduced as a material in flower
arrangement in the book of Japanese floral art "SENDENSHO"
written in 1449 (the Muromachi Period). IEYASU TOKUGAWA, the
first SHOGUN of the Edo Period (1603-1867) took three potted
plants of OMOTO when he moved to Edo castle as a means of
wishing for a happy fortune. OMOTO is an evergreen plant with
thick and waxy leaves and it bears red berries in winter. Its total
form was considered to be a symbol of long life and happy fortune
by the Japanese. In the Edo (1603-1867), enthusiasts created the
world of OMOTO cultivation. They focused on breeding cultivars
with interesting leaf shapes and variegations, with 79 cultivars
being introduced in the list published by IKUHOEN nursery in
1799. Its enthusiasm became so big at the end of the Edo Period
that finally the Japanese government prohibited selling OMOTO in
1852. Enthusiasts and breeders have bred numerous cultivars up
until now. More than 600 cultivars are registered in the lists of
cultivars are categorized in various ways:

<Leaf length>
OOBA (= big leaf) : leaf length is more than 30cm.
CHUUBA (= middle sized leaf) : leaf length is 15-25cm
KOBA (= small leaf) : 3-15cm
<Leaf thickness>
ATSUBA (= thick leaf): this type is often found in KOBA OMOTO
USUBA (= thin leaf): this type is often found in CHUUBA OMOTO
<Leaf shape>
MARUBA (= round leaf) type, HOSOBA (= thin leaf) type, HIROHA
(= wide leaf) type, FUTSUBA (= usual leaf) type, TACHIBA (=
straight leaf) type
RYUBA (= dragon leaf) type: RYUBA indicates a leaf that has a
projection running along with its surface. Enthusiasts indicate the
projection using the word "dragon". For example, enthusiasts say,
"dragon runs on the leaf" when there is a projection. Please
check the images below. You can imagine that the projection
looks like a dragon. When there are two projections, they say, "
there are two dragons". When there are numerous projections on
the leaves, it is called GASHI RYU.
KENBA (= sword leaf) type: a straight leaf with pointed leaf tip
NOSHIBA (= envelope leaf) type: an incurved leaf
SHISHIBA (= lion leaf) type: a well rolled leaf
SHIRO SHIMA (= white stripe), KI JIMA (= yellow stripe),
HAKE JIMA (= brush stripe): a white stripe running on leaf
surface as if painted by a brush
BO JIMA (= stick stripe): many straight stripes running on leaf
ZU (= chart): many white spots on leaf surface
TORA FU (= tiger variegation): many unclear (white or yellow)
spots on leaf surface
AKEBONO FU (= sunrise variegation): banded stripes on leaf
FUKURIN (= fringed): marginal variegation

It is said that OMOTO enthusiasts created the above terms for
expressing the characteristics of OMOTO cultivars. Enthusiasts
of other traditional pot plants adopted these terms for depicting
each plant's characteristics. OMOTO enthusiasts also created
NISHIKI BACHI (= decorative pot) for displaying plants at the
exhibitions. Traditional pictures are painted on the surface of
these decorative pots. These decorative pots were also used by
the enthusiasts of other plants like FU RAN (Neofinetia falcata),
SEKKOKU (Dendrobium moniliforme), TOYO RAN (Asian
cymbidiums) etc. In this way, OMOTO enthusiasts established a
style of raising Japanese pot plants.

Growing Tips: prefer well-drained soil like small-sized pumice but
you can grow it in usual soil too; loves a shady place throughout
the year; half-hardy. If you want to grow it in Japanese
traditional potting-style, plant it with small-sized pumice in a
decorative pot and give it less fertilizer. Its growth will then be
restricted and you can enjoy its small form over a long period.

OMOTO Websites ( Japanese version only )
The purposes of NIHON OMOYO KYOKAI (Japan Rohdea Society) are to promote the progress of OMOTO breeding and to introduce OMOTO to the public, including foreign countries.
OMOTO nursery. The owner Mr. Eiji Tanaka is very enthusiastic to introduce OMOTO to everyone. You can enjoy various beautiful images of OMOTO cultivars, decorative pots and UKIYOE (Japanese colored prints).

Click here for further information on OMOTO!

OMOTO berries in winter

potted cultivars
at some OMOTO nursery

cultivar with
NEGISHI FU variegation

NEGISHI FU variegation


cultivar with rolled leaves;
this rolled leaf strain is called
SHISHI (= lion ) strain

cultivar KANPAKU


cultivar with FUKURIN variegation

projection on a leaf
which is called
RYU ( = dragon )

dwarf cultivar OTAFUKU

dwarf cultivar

dwarf cultivar with
GASHI RYU projections

very famous cultivar

OMOTO cultivars lists are pupblished by Japan Rohdea Society
every year. This list follows the style of lists of Japanese SUMO