The arrival of a new crop
No one seems to know why members of the Lisu hilltribe in northern Thailand refer to a certain field crop with brilliant yellow flowers as Japanese sesame. The seeds of this crop yield quality cooking oil, but the plant looks nothing like true sesame (Sesamum indicum).
Traditionally, the Lisu have used at least a few sources of cooking oil, including the seed of roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) and even opium (Papaver somniferum). But when tens of thousands of Lisus began to migrate into northern Thailand from the Burma-China border during the 1960s, they apparently left the so-called Japanese sesame behind.