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Cryptotaenia japonica - Hassk.

Common Name Mitsuba, Japanese honewort
Family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Woodland in hills and mountains[52, 58].
Range E. Asia - China, Japan.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Cryptotaenia japonica Mitsuba, Japanese honewort

Cryptotaenia japonica Mitsuba, Japanese honewort


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Cryptotaenia japonica is an evergreen Perennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.6 m (2ft).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


C. canadense japonica.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root  Stem
Edible Uses: Condiment

Leaves and stems - raw or cooked[2, 52, 116]. Used as a flavouring with a parsley-like flavour if you let your imagination run away with you[K]. Seedlings and young leaves can be used in salads[206]. When cooking, the leaves should not be cooked for more than a couple of minutes or the flavour is destroyed[206]. The leaves contain about 2.3% protein, 0.23% fat, 4.4% carbohydrate, 2.1% ash[179]. Root - raw or cooked[2, 52, 116, 183]. Blanched stem - a celery substitute[2, 116]. The seed is used as a seasoning.

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Febrifuge  Tonic  Women's complaints

Women's complaints. Used in the treatment of haemorrhages, colds, fevers etc[178]. Used as a tonic for strengthening the body[266].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most soils, preferring a moist shady position under trees where it often self-sows[52]. The leaves tend to turn yellow when plants are grown in full sun[206]. This species is not winter-hardy in all areas of Britain, though plants can tolerate short periods at temperatures down to -10°c[206]. Mitsuba is commonly cultivated as a vegetable in Japan, there are some named varieties[183]. It is usually grown as an annual[206]. It is closely allied to C. canadensis, and is considered to be no more than a synonym of that species by some botanists[200]. This plant is adored by slugs and snails and must be protected when small or when new growth is emerging in the spring[K]. For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a clumper with limited spread [1-2]. The root pattern is flat with shallow roots forming a plate near the soil surface [1-2]. The root pattern is a tap root similar to a carrot going directly down [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow April in a greenhouse. Germination is usually rapid, prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in early summer. The ideal temperature for sowing is about 25°c, though seed does germinate at higher and lower temperatures[206]. Seed can also be sown in early autumn[206]. Division in spring or autumn.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Plant Search

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Cryptotaenia canadensisHonewort, Canadian honewortPerennial1.0 4-8  LMHSM30 
Potentilla cryptotaeniae Perennial1.0 -  LMHSNM01 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Chris Brown   Fri, 14 May 1999 13:44:48

I recently obtained a Cryptotaenia japonica plant from a local plant sale (Eugene, Oregon); the grower said it was an edible, so that made it a very appealing addition to my garden. As it was not in any of my horticultural reference books, I decided to do an internet search to see what kind of conditons it would flourish in. To my surprise, the North Carolina State University declared it a poisonous plant!

I then discovered your page, which confirmed my original information, which lists it as an edible plant. I don't know which source is correct, yours or the University's, but I don't think I will be eating it anytime soon!

Shani   Sun Aug 26 21:55:18 2001

This is what the site has to say regarding edibility of this plant.

North Carolina State University website (link - http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/poison/Cryptja.htm )

Poisonous Part Leaves. Symptoms Severe skin irritation following repeated contact. Edibility EDIBLE PARTS: Cooked, starchy Oriental vegetable (root) or salad greens. Toxic Principle Unidentified. Severity TOXIC ONLY IF LARGE QUANTITIES EATEN.

Monica Beavis   Tue Aug 14 2007

I recently discovered Cryptotaenia Japonica Atropurpurea when visiting the plant center at Cottesbrooke Manor in Norhamptonshire. As an avid plant collector for the past 35 years, a completely unheard of plant presented a great temptation to me. It's form reminded me of a miniature Crambe (Ht. about .5mtrs) but the leaf and stem are purple and the flowers pink and Gypsophila like. Slugs love it and comsume it in much the same ways as they do the tall hardy Lobelia Queen Victoria. Having parted with my £6 I was mortified to discover no listing in the RHS encyclopedia, now I read it is either a oison or a vegetable. Cottesbrooke claim it is hardy but go no indication of what conditions the plant would require. Can anyone tell me anything more before the slugs devour it completely.

   Jun 9 2013 12:00AM

I "inherited" a garden on an empty lot where the previous gardener had planted quite a number of Cryptotaenia japonica ("Mitsuba" in Japanese). It is a perennial plant that is the first to spring up out of the ground, no matter how fierce the winter was. I do absolutely nothing to propagate this plant. It grows practically like a weed. IT IS DELICIOUS, and I have never heard from my Japanese wife or anyone else that it is poisonous in any way. I just snip a it at the bottom of the stem with some scissors, and then when I have a handful, I put it in a glass of water in the kitchen until it is needed. My wife puts it raw into miso soups and salads. When I make sandwiches, I put the stems and leaves in place of lettuce. IT IS DELICIOUS!

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