Flora Japonica by Masumi Yamanaka

I bought Flora Japonica by Masumi Yamanaka a few years ago from Kew Gardens. With the Olympics starting, I thought it will be the best time to finally read it. I read a similar book, about roses, and I liked it a lot. I liked this one too. Masumi Yamanaka co-authored the book with Martyn Rix and Hideaki Ohba.

Flora Japonica by Masumi Yamanaka

Before reading this book I had no idea how many of the plants I like are Japanese or Asian. Some of the ones in my garden are Japanese, such as lilies and campanula. The rhododendrons I have in the front are Japanese too. There are roses and camellias and peonies.

The illustrations are gorgeous, so beautifully executed and offering so much more than a photograph. I absolutely love them. These are similar to the English illustrations made in the 18th century that I sometimes see on display at different museums. Is worth getting the book for these illustrations alone.

The reason I gave 4 stars and not 5 is because I wanted to read about how these plants were adopted in Europe. There are details, but not enough from my point of view. That being said I recommend the book.

Flora Japonica by Masumi Yamanaka

Details about the picture: Japanese cup and teapot accompany the book
My rating: 4/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Year it was published: 2017
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): History of plants
Pages: 240

About the author: Masumi Yamanaka was born in Japan in 1957. She came to London at 30 and worked as a ceramics designer for Marks & Spencer. Masumi has exhibited in Kew’s Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art in the exhibitions on ‘Trees’ – Winter 2009, ‘Bulbmania’- Summer 2010 and ‘Kew Artists’- Spring 2011. Masumi was the recipient of a gold medal from the RHS in 2010 for her illustrations.
Masumi Yamanaka wrote Royal Heritage Trees too.
Martyn Rix is a British botanist, collector, horticulturalist, and author. He completed his PhD on Fritillaria at Cambridge University. Following that he worked in Zurich and at the Royal Horticultural Society gardens at Wisley.
Hideaki Ohba is a professor in the department of Botany at the University Museum, University of Tokyo, and author of Endangered Plants of Japan: A Florelegium (2004).
Website & Social Media Links: –

4 thoughts on “Flora Japonica by Masumi Yamanaka”

  • I knew that quite a few of the flowers you named were of oriental extraction, but I had no idea about rhododendrons or peonies.

    As you say, I would probably buy this books for the illustrations alone, as we tend to opt for the very hardy and evergreen shrubs for our garden, so I probably wouldn’t use it as a planting guide, although having said that, we have had some real success with our evergreen varieties of rhododendrons and the hydrangeas look amazing this year.

    The cover art alone would make me stop and pick the book up off the shelf. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • I like flowers, so I do a bit of gardening every other week. In the front of the house I have hardy bushes too, as it would be too much hassle to have flowers in the front too. Rhododendrons are very good, I have two of those and they are flowering nicely without me having to do more than giving them a bit of water and dead heading the flowers when necessary.

  • We use to have a florist shop in our town called Japonica. I didn’t know many of the flowers you named were of Japanese origin. I’d love to see the illustrations in the book.
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    • It’s quite remarkable how many Asian flowers are in Europe and the Americas, but they look like they were always here. Campanula is nice, but I never imagined it has an Asian origin, it’s not as showy as roses or camellias.

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