Nazuna: Shepard’s Purse

As one of the Japanese customs, there is a special rice porridge called “Nanakusagayu”. The reason why it is called “Nanakusagayu” is that the rice porridge includes 7 species of wild grasses. Nazuna is one of the wild grasses.

Nazuna’s height is 20 to40 cm as an adult organism, and the flowering season is from February to June in Japan. It has a lot of flowers, which are 3 mm in diameter. “Nazuna” is the Japanese name, and as another name, it is called “Penpengusa” or “Shamisengusa”. These name is related to Samisen (Japanese traditional stringed instrument). As a English name, it is called “Shepherd’s purse”, and the scientific name is “Capsella bursa-pastoris”.

In Japan, there are other species of plants which have “nazuna” at the end of their names. They are Gunbainazuna (Thlaspi arvense), Mamegunbainazuna (Lepidum viruginicum) and Inunazuna (Draba nemrosa) and so on, but their genetic names are not same as Nazuna’s one. Except for Nazuna, there are three species that have “Capsella” as their genetic names in Japan. They are Hosominazuna (Capsella bursa-pastoris Medik. var. bursa-pastoris ), Haatonazuna (Capsella sp.) and Ruberanazuna (Capsella rubella). They belong to Capsella genus, but they are an introduced species, so it shows that the species which belongs to Capsella genus is originally only Nazuna in Japan.

Nazuna is the wild grass that is distributed on temperate zone and subtropical zone of all over the world. In Japan, it is found on the whole country from Hokkaido to Okinawa, and occurs in fields, plantations and wayside, everywhere.

The life of Nazuna is as following. First, Nazuna’s seeds sprout at the beginning of winter. Then, they spend the winter with a special form called “Rosette”. When the spring comes, the stem starts growing. Finally, the flowers come out in early summer.

Winter is the season that is cruel for almost living things to live. Nazuna lives through the severe season. The reason why it can bear is its special form in winter, and it is called “Rosette”. Rosette shows a form such as flat-spreading leaves on the ground. The advantages of this form are that plants can stand the coldness of winter by pasting on the ground, and that plants can get much sunshine by spreading its leaves widely.

Nazuna is what is called a weed, so it doesn’t seem to have a special connection with other animals or plants in particular. Though it is not a biological connection, in Japan we sometimes gather Nazuna to eat. As a popular use, it is used for the Nanakusagayu mentioned above. It is also used for medicine. First, dry Nazuna in shade. Then, boil down, brew or char it. If you do the above, it will have effects for alleviation of fever, stomachache, high blood pressure, and a lot of illness. Though Nazuna is a weed, it has a close connection with Japanese.

If you would like to see Nazuna, take a walk in spring, and soon you can get it. Nazuna is a weed, and it is found anywhere. It is a familiar plant to us.

   

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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.

4 thoughts on “Nazuna: Shepard’s Purse”

  1. Nazuna’s life style is very interesting. But I have a quesution for it.Nazuna shapes “Rosette” in winter and grow big in summer although it is eaten in January as one of “Nanakusagayu”. I think Nazuna of “Nanakusagayu” may be young.

  2. I played with nazuna in my childhood.So it is very familiar plants for me.
    I was learned in Japan, there are other species of plants which have “nazuna” at the end of their names.

  3. I called Penpengusa about Nazuna, becouse I played it when I was kid.
    Nazuna sounds “pen pen “.
    I ate Nanakusagayu in Nazuna.

  4. Nazuna is grow in my hometown, so I know it as “penpengusa” very well, and is known as the nanakusagayu. But I haven’t eat it. One day, I want to eat it.

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