2016 Volume 66 Issue 1 Pages 82-89
The diversity of climate, from subarctic to subtropical, and the complex geological history of Japan have produced a rich biodiversity. The flora includes several hundred species of native woody plants with edible fleshy fruits or nuts. People have eaten them from prehistoric times until about a half century ago. In Hokkaidō and the Ryūkyū Islands nut species had an important role in the diet, but fleshy fruits were also eaten until recently. Only Castanea crenata and a few minor species became domesticated as edible fruit trees in pre-modern times. Recently, Vitis coignetiae, Lonicera caerulea, Akebia quinata, Akebia trifoliata, Stauntonia hexaphylla, and Actinidia arguta have entered small-scale cultivation. The conservation of the germplasm of many of these native species, both in situ and ex situ, is precarious.