Some of you might already know what 7 herbs for Spring are (Haru no nanakusa春の七草). We eat all these herbs together on the 7th of January to pray for our perfect health and safety through the year. But there is another 7 secret herbs for Autumn (Aki no nanakusa秋の七草), which even for Japanese people, many of us don’t know! It is said that Autumn herbs are not for eating, like spring herbs, but for watching and enjoying. Do you know any of the flowers below?
Bush Clover (Hagi 萩)
‘Hagi’ means the flower of autumn, which is why it has the letter of Kanji ‘秋(autumn)’. Also, we offer Ohagi (a rice ball coated with sweetened red beans) to our ancestors when we visit their grave in autumn. However, it is just because Ohagi includes the sound of ‘hagi’ as the meaning of autumn, since Ohagi is not made from ‘Hagi’. This herb is actually a tree, and has beautiful red purple flowers on it. You can find this herb on many hills and fields all over Japan. Its flowering season is summer through autumn.
Flower language: thought, shy, spirit, positive love, flexible mind
Japanese Pampas Grass (Obana/ Susuki尾花/薄）
This herb is quite famous in Japan since it is used for Moon viewing of September as decoration. The Japanese name is ‘Obana’ and ‘Susuki’. The name of ‘Obana’ means tail flower, which is because the ear of the flower looks like a tail. But, we normally call it ‘Susuki’, which means ‘Sukusuku(quickly)’ growing. It is a perennial plant and strong in the heat and cold, but the flowering term is in autumn. You can easily find it on sunny sides of any glassland.
Flower language: to understand someone’s feeling, viability, force, privacy
Kudzu (Kuzu 葛)
The name of ‘Kuzu’ came from the English name, ‘Kudzu’. ‘Kuzu’ is used for lots of purposes such as for food and medicine. Starch is taken from the root and becomes to Kuzu starch which is ‘Kuzukoくず粉’ in Japanese. This is used for Japanese sweets which is called ‘Wagashi和菓子’ as Kuzu Japanese cake. When the root is dried, it becomes one of the traditional Chinese medicines for the common cold and gastroenteritis. Moreover, baskets and fabrics can be made by the dried pedicle of ‘Kuzu’. Usually, it comes in flower in the early autumn. Then, the vine of it grows so fast and sometimes spreads over trees near them.
Flower language: treatment, patience, endeavor, sigh of love
Japanese Dianthus (Nadeshiko 撫子)
Have you heard of ‘Yamato Nadeshiko (大和撫子)’ as the meaning of Japanese women’s neatness? This word came from the name of Japanese Dianthus, ‘Nadeshiko’. ‘Nadeshiko’ means to stroke(Naderu) a child(Ko) since this flower is so cute like a child. It is said the beauty of ‘Nadeshiko’ is first class in all flowering plants in Manyoshu (万葉集), which is one of the Japanese old poetries. It blooms in summer to early autumn, and the colour is a beautiful pink. It is easy to find anywhere, but mostly in a sunny location.
Flower language: pure love, innocent, chastity, talent, fearless
Patrinia Scabiosifolia (Ominaeshi女郎花)
There are quite a few stories about the origin of the name, but one of them is that its beauty blew beautiful women’s mind, which means ‘Omina’ as ‘Onna (women) and ‘Eshi’ as ‘Heshi (blow mind)’ in old Japanese language. The root and whole plant are effective in detoxication, pains and diuresis, which is used as one of the Chinese medicines. On the other hand, the white coloured Patrinia Scabiosifolia is called as ‘Otokoeshi男郎花’ meaning blowing men(otoko)’s mind. The good season for this yellow beautiful flower is from summer to autumn, but the smell of flower is awful, unfortunately… As bad as decayed soy sauce!
Flower language: beauty, kind, fleeting love, consideration, to keep a promise
Eupatorium Fortunei (Fujibakama藤袴)
This flower is designated as an endangered species now, which means you can rarely find any wild ones. ‘Fujibakama’ means men’s old skirts (Hakama) in wisteria violet (Fuji colour), since it looks like it. When it desiccates, it has a strong sweet smell. Therefore, it is used for shampoo and perfume. That is why another name of this flower is ‘perfume flower (Kosuiran香水蘭). In the same as ‘Susuki’, it is perennial herb and the flower season is in autumn.
Flower language: delay, hesitancy, understanding, to remember you, sweet memory
Balloon Flower (Kikyo桔梗)
This flower is also designated as an endangered species. Its flower is used as model of family crest of military commander for a long time, since the shape of the flower is very beautiful. The English name is ‘Balloon Flower’, because it looks like a balloon. The Japanese name ‘Kikyo’ means ‘Kichiko’ which is the Chinese medicine made from ‘Kikyo’. The dried roots have effects on sputum and cough, so it is used as Chinese medicine. It grows in the mountains or fields which have enough sunlight. Also, the blooming time is only in summer.
Flower language: tidy, elegance, sincerity, submission, unchangeable love, affectionate love
Are there any flowers you are familiar with? Be sure to make a note of these 7 herbs of autumn, and appreciate all of them before winter comes!!