Cryptotaenia japonica f. atropurpurea

japanese chervil    Perennial of the Month-- December 2005 

(cryp-toe-tE' knee-ah  jah-pon' i-cah  a-tro-pur-pur' E-ah) (pronunciation at link, turn up volume if too low)

Common name: Purple-leaved Japanese Wild Parsley, Mitsuba, Purple-leaved Japanese honewort

Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae), Carrot

Height x width: 18-24" x 8" (effect is wider in colonies)

Growth rate; habit: moderate, upright (may reseed to form colonies)

Foliage: purple bronze stems and leaves, branched stems, leaves deeply divided into thirds (ternately compound), segments roughly heart-shaped (cordate), slightly ruffled edges

Flowers: light pink small umbels in mid summer

Hardiness: USDA zones 4-7

Soil: moist, tolerates dry

Light: part shade to sun (north)

Pests and problems: none significant

Landscape habit, uses: shade gardens; foliage contrasts well with variegated hostas, variegeted Brunnera such as Jack Frost or Looking Glass, yellow columbine, bright green ferns, variegated solomon's seal, behind lungworts

Other interest: native to eastern Asia; species is used particularly in Asia as a seasoning (similar to Angelica), a strenghtening tonic, sprouts in salads; if eaten in large quantities may be toxic, leaves may cause dermitities in some people; this cultivar introduced to North American horticulture in 1997 by Terra Nova nurseries (OR); CAUTION: may cause dermitities with repeated contact in some people, only toxic if eaten in large quantities; some find this plant invasive, self-seeding readily

Other culture: may be short-lived but self-sows readily so place accordingly, or prune flowers before setting seed

Propagation: seeds, transplant seedlings

Sources: Avant Gardens, local and mail-order specialty perennial nurseries

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