Name: Kikyo/Kikyou (桔梗) Chinese Bellflower
Seasonal Association: Autumn
When To Wear It: June to November
Kikyo (or kikyou) is also known as the Chinese bellflower. It starts blooming in late summer and into the autumn. Before it opens, the petals form the shape of a hanging bell that the flower takes it’s name from. Asagao (morning glory) also has this shape before it opens. I believe that this is one reason why kikyo and asagao are used interchangeably when depicting aki no nanakusa (秋の七草).
Aki no nanakusa (秋の七草):
The seven flowers or grasses of autumn. It’s unknown who first put together this group of plants as a representation of autumn, but it is a classic theme of even the oldest Japanese poetry.
hagi (bush clover)
susuki (pampas grass)
nadeshiko (dianthus, pink, or wild carnation)
ominaeshi (valerian or maiden flower)
kikyo (Chinese bellflower) NB: occationally, asagao (morning glory) is substituted for kikyo.
For more information on aki no nanakusa, check out http://www.urasenke.org/flowers/autumn.php
Kikyo is one of the many five-petaled flowers depicted in kimono. The other common flowers are sakura (cherry blossom) or ume (plum blossom). One distinction between them is the shape of the petals. Kikyo petals always come to a point while ume petals are completely round and sakura petals have a notch in them. Kikyo is almost always depicted as growing off of a straight stalk, however there are exceptions.
Examples of kikyo growing straight off the stalk and off the middle of the stalk.