Seeds sown to revive common glasswort in Akkeshi
The third attempt to artificially create large colonies of common glasswort, the representative vegetation of the town of Akkeshi in eastern Hokkaido, has begun in earnest along the shores of Lake Akkeshi. On April 19, when the spring tide creates the largest difference in ebbs and flows, the town sowed seeds for the first time on cultivation land created last autumn. The three-year plan will explore appropriate environments and cultivation methods.
Common glasswort is an endangered species designated by the Ministry of the Environment, and is a 10- to 30-cm-high annual herb that grows naturally in sandy soil containing salt water. The town has been trying to artificially cultivate the plant for 40 years to “create a focus for tourism,” and has been accumulating know-how for large-scale cultivation on the shores of Lake Akkeshi, which was discovered approximately 130 years ago and where the native habitat has been drastically reduced due to subsidence.
The cultivation area created in the Chikarakotan district consists of four ‘test fields’ with an area of approximately 1,500 square meters. The fields are located in well sunlit, tidal areas favored by the common glasswort, and salt water can be drawn from deep under the fields through conduit pipes. Two types of fields – one using lakeshore soil and the other using sand from inland areas – with a 15-centimeter height difference have been created to test four different growing environments.
The seeds were sown at low tide. Six town employees plowed the cultivation area, then extracted the small seeds from plants that were harvested two years ago, by hand, before scattering them on the ground and bedding them in with their feet. “The seeds sprout in early May and turn red in late September. We want to compare the four different environments to determine the feasibility of large-scale cultivation,” said a curator at the Akkeshi Maritime Affairs Memorial Museum.
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