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  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun

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Cryptotaenia japonica Mitsuba, Japanese honewort
Cryptotaenia japonica Mitsuba, Japanese honewort
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Cryptotaenia japonica is an evergreen Perennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

C. canadense japonica.

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.
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].


Other Uses
None known
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].
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
Found In
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


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Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
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 - )

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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Subject : Cryptotaenia japonica  

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