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Paris japonica (Japanese canopy plant)

The genome of the Japanese canopy plant contains 50 times more DNA than the human genome and is 15% larger than the previous record holders (the marbled lungfish and a trillium).
Flowers of Paris japonica

Flowers of Paris japonica (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Paris japonica (Franch. & Sav.) Franch.

Common name: 

Japanese canopy plant (English); kinugasa-sou (Japanese)

Conservation status: 

Not yet evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria.


Humus-rich soils of the subalpine woodland regions of the mountains of northern and central Honshu, Japan.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, edible (fruits).

Known hazards: 

None known.


Genus: Paris

About this species

The canopy plant’s common name refers to the arrangement of its leaves, which form an apical pseudo-whorl resembling the umbrella-like ceremonial canopies held over Japanese Emperors in ancient times. It is one of the most striking species within the genus Paris, with showy white flowers that emerge on a pedicel above the leaves. Like many other representatives of the Parideae tribe in the family Melanthiaceae (including trilliums), this species can be grown as an ornamental, although its specific environmental and ecological requirements present a challenge to gardeners trying to establish it successfully.

Paris japonica is of great interest to scientists at Kew because its genome contains so much DNA (the most for any plant and 50 times more DNA than the human genome). The causes, consequences and evolution of such a large genome are the focus of ongoing research in the Jodrell Laboratory.


Trillidium japonicum, Trillium japonicum, Kinugasa japonica


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