The Ashitaba plant has been a popular medicinal food in Japan and the Philippines for many years but is enjoying more recent popularity among people in the USA!! Originally, Ashitaba or Angelica keiskei, hails from the Japanese island of Hachijo, an area of Japan famous for the long life spans of its residents. Of course, numerous factors can contribute to a long lifespan but there is no doubt that regular consumption of the anti-oxidant rich Ashitaba plant played an important part!!
Angelica keiskei koidzumi
Medicinal uses of Ashitaba have been recorded in early Chinese medicinal texts from the late 1500s and was introduced to Japan in the early 1600s. The Plant is often referred to as Tomorrow’s Leaf because of its vigor and ability to sprout new leaves almost every day! The Ashitaba stems exude a yellow sap when the stems are cut. This yellow sap is extremely high in cancer inhibiting Chalcones. The sap is sometimes dried and preserved as medicine but many people simply eat the whole leaf and stem like a vegetable. When taken as a daily tonic the leaves and stems are quite tasty and are excellent for those struggling with chronic fatigue, digestive issues, chronic anemia, chronic hepatitis, diabetes and even cancer. Ashitaba is high in vitamin B12 which is quite unusual in a plant source and very necessary for the health of the brain and our cognitive function. The plant acts as both a gentle laxative and diuretic stimulating the metabolism and aiding in lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels. An excellent addition to fresh juice or green smoothies, Ashitaba can also be dried and taken as a tea. The yellow sap or stems and sap can also be dried and preserved as an extract.
Ashitaba is a vigorous biennial and can reach heights of 4 feet by the second year in fertile garden soil. Its lush green leaves constantly unfurling are truly beautiful and the tremendous life energy in this plant is a treat to witness in the garden. Pretty umbel shaped greenish/white blooms slowly mature and eventually provide a prolific harvest of seeds. Ashitaba prefers a partial shade or sunny location preferably with rich soil. It will grow best with regular watering in hot weather and is hardy to about 20 degrees. An unheated greenhouse can be a perfect environment for over–wintering the plants in colder climates as they can do quite well in large planters! I highly recommend incorporating an Ashitaba plant into your herbscape! We have had one here at Crimson Sage Nursery right in the middle of the veggie garden and it has done beautifully, attracted lots of pollinators with its umbel flowers and produced plenty of superfood leaves and stems for all. Available at a discount this season you can link here.