Toborochi (Japanese: トビロチ) is a small tree native to Japan. It grows up to 15 feet tall and has a trunk diameter of 1 foot. Its leaves are alternate, elliptic or ovate in shape with 5 petals each, and the flowers are white or pinkish red with 6 stamens each. The fruit is round, oval or oblong in shape with 4 large seeds at the center surrounded by 2 smaller ones around it. The tree is known as the “tobacco” tree because of its seed pods which resemble tobacco leaves.
The name Toborochi comes from the Japanese word toro meaning “tree”. The kanji character for toba means “leaf”, so the name was derived from the leafy appearance of the tree. Toborochi is a species of cactaceae family. Cactaceae plants have been used medicinally since ancient times. They contain alkaloids such as nicotine, caffeine and other substances that have medicinal value.
Toborochi trees were introduced into Japan in the 16th century. The first recorded use of toborochi is in a book called “Kuro no kuni shiteki” (“A Manual of Natural Medicine”) published in 1735 by Tsunetomo Shigemitsu. It describes how to make tea from the plant’s leaves and roots. The book describes the plant as a substitute for green tea, which was more expensive. The book also refers to medicine made from toborochi called “Tobacco liquid”.
The leaves, flowers, and seeds were used in making medicine, but only the leaves and flowers have been shown to have medicinal value. The leaves and flowers are eaten to relieve flatulence and abdominal pains. They can be consumed either in the form of alcoholic extract or as dry powder mixed with water.
When consumed for a long time, there is a risk of liver damage and even cancer. For this reason, toborochi is not used as a substitute for green tea. However, toborochi’s effects on flatulence are too strong to be ignored.
The seed pods resemble tobacco leaves so they were used in Shonen (a type of Japanese roll-your-own cigarette) instead of actual tobacco. The use of toborochi for this purpose declined with the enactment in 1904 of the first Tobacco Monopoly Law. Nowadays toborochi is rarely used in Shonen.
The taste of toborochi is not so different from green tea. In fact, it tastes almost the same as “Yabukita”, one of the most popular green teas in Japan. The leaves and flowers can be eaten, and also have a slightly bitter taste.
Toborochi’s flowers are small, so they are not used for flower arrangement. They have a natural shape that can be used in flower arrangement, however.
This plant also contains chemicals that affect the nervous system, and it is used as an ingredient in herbal supplement products. These supplements are used to treat fatigue and enhance endurance.
Toborochi is a small tree that can withstand extreme conditions. Due to its natural shape and tolerance of poor soil conditions, it is an important landscape tree in urban areas such as roadsides and parks. It has a strong tolerance for frost, so it’s often used as an ornamental plant for frost-resistant gardens.
The only negative factor is that it gives off a strong smell when it flowers. This smell has an effect on people with respiratory problems.
Tobacco trees are usually maintained at a height of between 1 and 6 meters, but they can grow to be as tall as 10 meters. Its trunk has a diameter of between 10 and 20 centimeters, and it has a rounded or oval shape. It doesn’t have many branches, but the leaves give it a leafy appearance.
When the flowers bloom they are yellow in color, and emit a strong odor. The leaves are green on top and a light green on the bottom. The leaves are lanceolate-shaped (long and narrow).
Tobacco trees can be subjected to temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius, and as high as 40 degrees. They thrive in poor quality soil. It’s a common misconception that it grows only in wasteland areas. That’s not true at all. It grows in various types of soil, including poor quality soil.
Hokkaido was once covered with forests of toborochi trees. At present, only a few settlements on the outskirts of cities have survived the onslaught of urban development.
Tobacco trees (scientific name: nicotiana tabacum) originated in South America, but they’ve been transplanted to various places around the world. Originally, they were brought to Hokkaido during the 1830’s in order to produce tobacco. However, their cultivation was later banned in 1869 by the Japanese government due to health concerns. Their cultivation was subsequently banned altogether with the adoption of the Tobacco Monopoly Law in 1904.
But now that the law has been abolished, what’s stopping these trees from being cultivated?
Nothing at all.