Herb: Katakuri


Latin name: Erythronium japonicum


Family: Liliaceae (Lily Family)



Edible parts of Katakuri:

Bulb - raw or cooked. The source of a starch, called "katakuri-ko" in Japan. It is used in dumplings, confectionery, as a thickener in soups etc. It is preferred over other starches for use in sauces which must thicken but not gel upon cooling. The bulb is about 1cm wide and up to 6cm long.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Bulb


Height:
20 cm
(7 3/4 inch)

Flovering:
March
to April

Habitat of the herb:

Woods in lowland and low mountains of C. and N. Japan. Moist places in forests, S Jilin and Liaoning provinces in hina.

Propagation of Katakuri:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a shady position in a cold frame. Water lightly in summer, it should germinate in autumn or winter. Stored seed requires a period of cold stratification. Sow as early in spring as possible in a cold frame. Sow the seed thinly so that it will not be necessary to prick them out for their first year of growth. Give an occasional liquid feed to the seedlings to make sure that they do not become nutrient deficient. When the plants are dormant, pot up the small bulbs putting 2 - 3 bulbs in each pot. Grow them on in a shady position in the greenhouse for another 2 3 years and then plant them out into their permanent positions when they are dormant in late summer. Division of the bulbs in the summer as the leaves die down. Larger bulbs can be replanted immediately into their permanent positions, but it is best to pot up smaller bulbs and grow them on in a shady position in a greenhouse for a year before planting them out when dormant in late summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Woods in lowland and low mountains of C. and N. Japan. Moist places in forests, S Jilin and Liaoning provinces in hina.

Medicinal use of Katakuri:

None known

Known hazards of Erythronium japonicum:

Although no records of toxicity have been seen for this species, the following notes have been seen for another member of this genus and so some caution is advised. Skin contact with the bulbs has been known to cause dermatitis in sensitive people.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.