Mokkoku: Japanese Cleyera

Mokkoku is Japanese name and scientific name is Ternstroemia gymnanthera (Wright et Arn.) Sprague. This tree is evergreen high tree and grows to average of 15 meters height,moreover it becomes max 18 meters.The leaf is thick and smooth,also it blooms a white flower.It ripes in autumn and produces a red seed. For that reason,another named akaminoki and is used by everyone.


It is classificated, Platae・Magnoliophyta・Magnoliopsida・Theales・Theaceae・Ternstroemia・T.gymnanthera. 

It is distributed over Japanese islands including the South-West islands,Korean Peninsula southern part,Taiwan,India via China in the world. It is also distributed from the South Kanto region westward to Okinawa in Japan.It grows in a forest near sea of warm place. 

Leaf of mokkoku is length 3~7 centimeter and looks like a rice spoon.We do not see most of the leaf veins of the back side.The leafstalk is tinged with a red,and a flower of the white blooms in about July.Then,the flower has two kinds of a bisexual flower and the male flower. A bisexual flower is a stamen of one fold surround the pistil in a ring. The other,A male flower has stamen of three folds in a ring,and there are a lot of numbers. 

Also,a calyx and a petal are pounding five pieces to a flower together, there are two pieces of small bracts in the floral design upper part.The fruit is global,and it is fleshy substance.In autumn,it becomes ripe and forms a red seed inside.The bark includes tannin,and it becomes the dye of the dark brown.this is used in various uses. Mokokku it is planted as a garden tree and it is used well.The wood is hard and it is beautiful, materials on dark reddish-brown that it is used for a building,appliance materials,a comb. In addition, it is used in folk medicine: we collect leaves and dry it, boil it and drink afterward. It is effective against renal disease and a liver disease. Conventionally, these were classified in camellia department. But,as a result of having examined a gene,we understood that we were little different from the group of the camellia.and Theaceae was made newly.

There is the tree of a natural monument appointed to designated cultural assets in city of Tosashimizu in Kochi.it is considered to be a sacred tree of God, and it is still kept as such. When it is a near place, the front gate of Kochi university enters and turns right. We can look in bicycle parking lot neighborhood.

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Davey Leslie

English teacher, writer, woodworker, musician. Have lived in Kochi, Japan, since 1992. Am married to a local Asakura princess who keeps me in line, mostly.

One thought on “Mokkoku: Japanese Cleyera”

  1. I’m from Okinawa, and I have ever seen Mokkoku in okinawa. I like this flower. I read this article, I wonder that these were classified in camellia department but,as a result of having examined a gene.

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