Parsley Mix Order Apiales

Parsleys:   Apiaceae (formerly Umbelliferae) is a large family (300 genera, 3000 species) important as herbs, spices, flavorings and root vegetables.

Aralias:   Family Araliaceae, though so closely related to Parsleys as to cause botanical confusion, is noted mainly for medicinals and little for edibles.

Pittosporums:   Family Pittosporaceae is well known for decoratives, but there is only one significant edible.

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This very important culinary family grows the world around, mainly in temperate climates but some into the subtropics.

Alexanders   -   [Horse Parsley, Black Lovage, Macedonia Parsley, Wild Celery; Smyrnium olusatrum]
Flowering Alexanders Plant

Alexanders is native to the Mediterranean region and has been used as a culinary and medicinal herb from the times of ancient Greece through the Medieval period. It has since fallen almost entirely out of use, displaced by celery. This plant still grows wild through much of Europe, and as far north as the British Isles, having been carried far and wide by the Roman Legions. Its flavor is between celery and parsley, with leaves, stems, roots and flower buds all edible. The small black seeds are also edible and were used as a substitute for pepper.   Photo by tato grassso distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Angelica   -   [Angelica archangelica (garden angelica), Angelica sylvestris (wild angelica)]
Angelica leaves

Angelica is native to the subarctic regions of the northern hemisphere and grows as far north as Lapland. While there are many angelica species, only the two listed above are of culinary interest. To have it on hand you must grow it yourself - it likes damp soil, growing leaves the first year and going to seed the second year. It grows wild in Scandinavia where it is quite popular and is cultivated in one region of France, mostly for flavoring liqueurs and medicinal properties. It is also used to flavor omelets, some fish dishes and jams. Angelica is more gently "perfumy" than other members of the parsley tribe. Wild angelica has been used mainly as an emergency food.

Anise   -   [Pimpinella anisum]
Anise Seeds

Native to the Eastern Mediterranean region, the dried fruits are an important flavoring there. The vegetable sold as "Anise" in grocery stores is actually Fennel. Anise is not sold as a fresh herb or vegetable.

Ajwain   -   [Carom seed, Ajowan; Omam (Tamil); Ajmo (Gujarati); Owa (Marathi); Trachyspermum copticum]
Ajwain Seeds

Originating in Egypt or the Middle East, the dried fruits of this plant are now used mainly in India but also in Afghanistan, Egypt, Eritrea and Ethiopia. It is said to reduce flatulence from beans if cooked with them. Ajwain contains thymol and raw it smells and tastes like thyme but stronger, harsher and with some bitterness. Raw ajwain can overwhelm a dish if not used with discretion. In India it is always dry roasted or fried before using, which tempers the flavor. Some sources say ajwain is lovage seed but that is incorrect.

The leaves are also edible, but this plant is not cultivated in North America. Ajwain seeds should be stored in a tightly sealed container away from heat and sunlight, but still should be used within 6 months or so because the flavorful oils evaporate fairly quickly. This spice has an affinity for breads and starchy foods, including potatoes, beans and lentils. It is also used in Takdas (Tempering), oil fried spices used as a finishing touch in many Indian dishes, particularly in the south. It is considered a digestive aid and to reduce flatulence from beans.

Arracacha   -   [Apio (Puerto Rico), Apio Criollo (Venezuela), Zanahoria Blanca (Ecuador), Virraca (Peru), Mandioquinha / Batata-baroa (Brazil), Arracacia xanthorriza]
Arracacha Root

This parsley root, native to the Andes region of South America is a major crop in Brazil but popular all over South America and the Caribbean region. The flesh may be white, yellow or purple. It is put to uses similar to potatoes but has a more distinctive flavor and in some cultivars intense color. Leaves are used as a flavoring herb and young stems are cooked as a vegetable similarly to celery. Arracacha roots can be kept loosely wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Subst: parsnips combined with some celery should work. Arracacha is now grown in Vietnam where the starch is used to make noodles.   Photo by Fibonacci licensed under GNU Free Documentation License v1.2 or later.

Caraway   -   [Anethum graveolens]
Caraway Seeds

Native to western Asia and Europe the dried fruits of this plant are used mostly in the cuisines of Central and Northern Europe to flavor bread, sauerkraut, cheeses, liquors, casseroles and other foods. They also have a long history of medicinal use. The roots may be cooked as a root vegetable but are not grown commercially for that purpose.

Carrot   -   [Daucus carota]
The carrot probably originated in Afghanistan which is still the center of diversity for wild carrots.

Carrot (domestic)   -   [Daucus carota subsp. sativus]
Carrots with tops

Descended from wild carrots (see below) domestic carrots were originally grown for leaves and seeds used as flavorings. As varieties with larger non-woody tap roots were developed the carrot became a common root vegetable. The orange root carrot so familiar today first appeared in the Netherlands during the 17th century.

The Afghan ancestors of our common carrots are commonly purple or yellow and often have branched roots. In Imperial Rome carrots were generally white or purple. Our market varieties are naturally white or orange, but yellow, red, maroon, purple and nearly black varieties have been developed, and one that's purple on the outside and orange on the inside. Some have been developed with particular medicinal properties.

Various shapes, sizes and colors are grown:

  • Imperator - the long tapered market carrot commonly sold whole.
  • Nantes - a blunt cylindrical carrot, sweeter than Imperator but rare.
  • Danvers - a conical carrot shorter than Imperator and more tolerant of heavy soils is most often pureed into baby food.
  • Chantenay - a short, blunt but very wide (up to 3 inches) carrot is most commonly diced for use in canned and frozen foods.
Details and Cooking.

Carrot (wild)   -   [Quene Anne's Lace, Bishops Lace, Bird's Nest, Daucus carota, Daucus pusillus (American)]
Wild Carrot Flowers

Probably originating in Afghanistan. D. carota varieties are now native to southwest Asia, Europe and northeast North America. D. pusillus is native to the southeast, mountain west and west coast of the US and into British Columbia.

Like the domestic carrot the wild carrot produces edible tap roots, but they are small and edible only when quite young, turning woody as they mature. A teaspoon of the seeds has been known since ancient times to be a natural form of birth control, disrupting the egg implantation process. Great care must be taken gathering this herb in the wild because it is very similar to toxic Water Hemlock (genus Cicuta). Note that flower stems of wild carrot are distinctly hairy and those of most toxic imitators are not.   Photo by Rangeley distributed under GNU Free Documentation License v1.2.

Celery   -   [Apium graveolens (common), Apium prostratum (Australian)]
Except for the Australian variety (Apium prostratum, all common celeries are cultivars of a single species, A. graveolens. This species is native to the Mediterranean region. While celery was well known to the ancient Egyptians it is not known if they cultivated it, since it was a common weed there. Celery was definitely cultivated during the Greek and Roman empires. Before Rome, celery was used medicinally, but the Romans seem to have started cooking with it, though with caution. Development of modern varieties with thick stems or large "roots" began in the 1600s.

Stalk Celery   -   [A. graveolens var dulce]
Untrimmed Pascal Celery Head Celery grown in North America is almost entirely the Pascal cultivar, which produces very large, mild flavored stems that are less fibrous than earlier varieties were. California is far and away the largest producer, but a fair amount is grown in Florida. The photo specimen was 27 inches long and weighed 1-3/4 pounds, but heads over 3 pounds are common. There are also red varieties but these are considered less desirable. In Europe a "self blanching" variety is favored.   Details and Cooking.

Chinese / Cutting Celery   -   [Kinchay (Philippines); Khan Choy (China); Keun Chai (Thai); Cutting Celery, Soup Celery Celeri à Couper (French); Celero (Italy); Selinon (Latin); A. graveolens var. secalinum]
Untrimmed Chinese Cellery Stalks

Probably much like celery grown in Europe before 1600, this plant has relatively thin stems, is stronger in flavor and is more fibrous than Pascal celery. It is now grown in California and available in the many Asian markets here. If your recipe calls for it and you can't get it, buy the leafiest head of regular celery you can find, and use the part above the first joint where the flavor is stronger. The specimens were 30 inches long with stems about 1/2 inch wide 5 inches above the leaf base. Both stems and leaves are used in recipes from China and Southeast Asia.   Details and Cooking.

Root Celery   -   [Celeriac, Knob celery, Turnip rooted celery, A. graveolens var rapaceum]
Celery Roots with Leaves

Developed in Europe during the Renaissance, this form is particularly popular in France, Germany, Poland, Russia and Turkey. Once little known in North America, celeriac has lately become more widely available, with California a major producer. The part eaten is not actually a root, but a swollen stem, from which the leaves sprout. These "roots" range in size from 7 ounces to over 2 pounds. The larger of the photo specimens was 6-1/2 inches long, 4-1/4 inches diameter and weighed 2 pounds.   Details and Cooking.

Wild Celery   -   [Smallage; A. graveolens var graveolens]
This ancestor of the domesticated celeries looks pretty much like Chinese / Cutting Celery, which is also sometimes called "Smallage". It is grown for production of celery seed, putting more of its energy into seeds rather than stems and leaves.

Celery Seed   -   [A. graveolens var graveolens]
Celery Seeds

Celery seed (actually very tiny fruits) is produced from "Wild Celery" rather than the Pascal variety. Much of what is sold as "celery seed" is mixed with, or even entirely Lovage seed. Apparently lovage is a better seed producer, but is very closely related to and very similar to wild celery. Celery seed has been used for thousands of years, both as a flavoring spice and for its medicinal properties.   Details and Cooking.

Chervil   -   [Gourmet's parsley, Garden Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolium, Apium prostratum (Australian)]
Live Chervil Bush

This plant, native to the Caucasus, was spread through Europe during the Roman Empire and today is used there mostly in France. The leaves have a more delicate flavor than parsley and with a hint of liquorice. Today it is commonly called for in gourmet magazine recipes to help you feel inadequate because you can't get it. I imagine it can be had at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, but nothing's going to get me to drive to Santa Monica at dawn on Saturday to do battle with desperate chefs from all those fancy West Side restaurants.

On the other hand, it can almost always be found put up in 26 oz jars of brine at markets serving an Armenian or Turkish community (see Details and Cooking).

There is another variety which, as with parsley, is grown for its roots rather than leaves. This is commonly used in France to flavor soups and pretty much nowhere else.   Photo by Derzsi Elekes Andor distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike v4.0 International.

Cicely   -   [Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata]
Live Cicely Plant

Native to Central Europe, leaves of this plant are used as an herb in the cuisines of Scandinavia and Germany, and to flavor alcoholic beverages. It has a strong scent and flavor similar to anise. Roots and seeds are also edible and used in that region, and it has medicinal uses.   Photo by H. Zell distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.

Coriander - Cilantro   -   [Chinese parsley, Mexican parsley; Dhania (India); Coriandrum sativum]

Originating in Western Asia and/or Southern Europe, coriander has been cultivated at least since the days of Tutankhamen and gathered wild from deep into prehistory. It was brought to North America by the first English and Dutch settlers. All parts of the plant are edible.

Cilantro Fronds Cilantro   [Coriander Leaf; Won Soy, Wonsoy (Philippines); Ngo, Mui (Viet); Coriandolo (Italy); Xiang cai, Heung choy (China)]

This herb was once in common use all over Europe, but has been almost completely supplanted by parsley. In Europe, only traditional recipes in southern Portugal and Spain's Canary Islands still call for it. On the other hand, it is greatly used in most non-European cuisines worldwide. There is a strong "I hate Cilantro" movement on the Internet, but the condition has proven curable by exposure.

The roots are also edible but are used only in the cuisine of Thailand, and to a lesser extent in some of its neighbors. Used as a component of curry pastes and in some soups, they are still hard to get even here in Southern California.   Details and Cooking.

Seeds Coriander Seed:   These "seeds" are actually dried fruits containing the seeds. While not now used in Europe to anywhere near the extent they were in Medieval times, coriander seeds are still used in pickling and sausage making. In India they are used in vast quantity for all manner of curries and spice mixtures, almost always with Cumin at a ration of about 1 T Coriander to 1 t cumin. This combination was also popular in Imperial Rome and is used in Africa and the Middle East.   Details and Cooking.

Culantro   -   [Long coriander, Sawtooth Herb, Mexican coriander Donnia; Chickory, Amazonian Chicory (Brazil); Ngo gai, Mui ta, Ngo tau (Viet); Eryngium foetidum]
Culantro Leaves

This herb is native to Mexico, Central and South America, but is now grown worldwide. As a culinary herb it is most important in Southeast Asia, the far northeast of India, and the Caribbean. It is sometimes described as tasting like Cilantro, but stronger. I find the resemblance detectable, but not close. Unlike Cilantro, it takes well to drying, holding both color and flavor.   Details and Cooking.

Cumin   -   [Jeera (India), Cuminum cyminum]
Cumin Seeds

Probably originating in southwestern Asia, this plant has been native to the region from the eastern Mediterranean to eastern India since prehistoric times. This is one of the most important spices in Indian cuisine, generally combined 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon coriander seed.   Details and Cooking.

Cumin - Black   -   [Kala Jeera, Shahi Jeera (India); Zireh Kuhi (Persia); Siyoh Dona (Tajiki), Bunium persicum alt? B. bulbocastanum]
Black Cumin Seeds

Fruits of this plant are used in the cuisines of northern India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Persia - and are all but unknown outside that region, though the plant grows wild as far as southeastern Europe. The leaves can be used as is parsley and the roots cooked, said to taste like sweet chestnuts, but only the fruits are available in North America.   Caution:   This spice is not to be confused with Nigella, often also called "Black Cumin". This is not an English translation error, nigella is actually called "black cumin" in Bengal, where many of the early Indian immigrants came from (most of Bengal is now Bangladesh). Visually, they are easy to tell apart - nigella seeds are tiny and not elongated.   Details and Cooking.

>Dill   -   [Shubit (Semitic); Shepu, Sowa (Asia); Thi la (Vietnam); Anethum graveolens]
Originating in Eastern Europe and/or Western Asia, dill has been cultivated since Neolithic times. The Talmud (Jewish law) requires tithes be paid in dill seeds and stems. and some stems were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen.

Dill   -   [Dill Weed]
Dill Fronds A favorite herb in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, the Caucasus and into Persia and "the Stans", fresh dill is widely available in Los Angeles where those eths abound, but many Americans know it only as something that goes into dill pickles. Dill is also used through India and Southeast Asia, particularly Vietnam.   Details and Cooking.

Dill Seed
Dill Seeds Dill seed is surprisingly hard to find in major supermarkets here in Southern California, and can be in tiny quantity for an outrageous price when they are found there. It can, however, be easily found at reasonable prices in Indian and many other ethnic markets.   Details and Cooking.

Fennels   -   [genus Foeniculum (fennel proper) | genus Ferula (giant fennel) | Hippomarathrum (horse fennel)]

Asafoetida   -   [Ferula assafoetida]
Powdered Asafoetida Resin

This giant fennel, native to Iran and Afghanistan, provides a resin that is widely used in Indian cuisine and in ayurvedic medicine. This resin is sold in three forms: resin droplets or nuggets, pure powdered asafoetida, and most commonly "hing powder", asafoetida cut to 30% with rice flour and gum arabic. The photo is of pure powdered asafoetida.

Asafoetida was first reported to Europe by Alexander the Great who declared it inferior to Silphium (Roman Laser) from North Africa, particularly due to the offensive sulfurous smell - very much like that of SAE 90 weight Hypoid Gear Oil (but they didn't know about that back then). Unfortunately, due to resource mismanagement and climate change, Laser became extinct by Nero's time, leaving the Romans no choice but to use asafoetida, or do without (unthinkable).

Today asafoetida is widely used in the cuisines of India, particularly by those sects and castes to whom onions, garlic and all their relatives are forbidden by religious decree. It does not taste the same but lends a similar sophistication of flavor to dishes it is used in. Like onions, it is high in sulfur. Similarly, SAE 90 weight Hypoid Gear Oil is a sulphured oil. Be aware that adequate sulphur is critical to good health, particularly joint health (eat more broccoli).   Details and Cooking.

Fennel (Seed)   -   [Saunf (Hindi); Mouri (Bengali); Foeniculum vulgare]

This plant is native to the Mediterranean coast and from there was carried to India by the Greeks and Romans and is now a common invasive in North America, Asia and Australia. It is now grown worldwide for its aromatic seeds which are used to flavor liqueurs and other beverages as well as a component of spice mixes and curries. In Italy it is much used as a flavoring ingredient in sausages.

The photo shows two forms, common fennel seeds and Luknow fennel, a special variety from northern India which has a more intensely licorice flavor.   Details and Cooking.

Florence Fennel   -   [Finocchio (Italy), Anise (US Supermarkets - in error), Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum]
Whole Florence Fennel Plant

This variety of F. vulgare is milder than other cultivars and grown for its swollen leaf bases which form a bulb-like structure. It is most used in Italy where the bulbs are prepared and consumed in many forms and the fronds are also used in salads and recipes. Unfortunately, many markets in North America trim this fennel much too close to the bulb.   Details and Cooking.

Horse Fennel   -   [Bokhi (Armenia); Hippomarathrum siculum alt H. libanotis var. siculum]
Pickled Horse Fennel Stems

Native to Anatolia and Caucasus, this plant is technically not a fennel, but is commonly called "horse fennel", so I'm placing it here. Its stems are used in Armenia to make a pickle (as shown in the photo) commonly used as an appetizer. It makes a mild pickle with a pleasant and interesting fennel-like flavor. The stems are crunchy and occasionally a bit fibrous. Stems in the specimen jar, packed in Armenia, were 4-1/2 inches long and up to 0.45 inches diameter. The plant grows to about 3 feet in height. The genus name Hippomarathrum roughly translates to "makes horses crazy".   Details and Cooking.

Silphium   -   [Laser (Rome), Silphium (Greece), Ferula ?????]
Sylphium image on Coin

This plant, apparently a giant fennel, provided several of the most important sauces and condiments of ancient Greece and Rome. Juice from the stems and roots, the stems themselves and most important the resin exuded from cuts just above the root were used. So important was this plant to the ancient cuisines they cannot be accurately reproduced without it. Unfortunately it is not currently available due to presumed extinction (some still hope it can be found somewhere in the wilds of Libya).

While other members of the fennel family have been sold as "silphium", true silphium grew only around the city of Cyrene in Libya, North Africa. While Pliny wrote that silphium of Cyrene was extinct in the 1st century CE, it appears from other writers it still existed there in the 5th century CE. Several varieties of African fennel have been proposed as "silphium" but all ancient representations of the plant distinctly show a striated stem and leaves in nearly opposite pairs. No fennel like this has yet been found. Ferula tingitana is thought to be the nearest living relative.   Details and Cooking.   Photo of coin from Cyrene believed in public domain .

Hemlock   -   [Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum (Europe), Conium chaerophylloides (South Africa)]
Live Hemlock plant

Do not eat - this is one of the most toxic plants known to man, just a few leaves are enough to kill an adult. The powerful neurotoxin can also be absorbed through the skin from handling the plant. Death is from asphyxiation when the respiratory muscles become paralyzed. I describe it here as a warning not to eat just any herb that looks like a carrot - and there are others similarly toxic

While native to Europe it has been introduced to North America and is now widespread, particularly in the Mountain West where it is easily confused with wild carrot and other plants valued by Native Americans for food and medicine. It has also been introduced to Australia. This plant grows only in places where the soil is permanently moist. Identify it by crushing leaves which will have a rank and musty smell, not spicy. Wash your hands after crushing to avoid absorbing the toxin.   Photo by US Department of Agriculture = public domain.

Lovage   -   [Liebstöckel, Maggikraut (German); Maggiplant (Dutch); Levistico (Italy); Livèche (France); Leustean (Romania); Lestyán (Hungary); Lyubeestok (Russia); Lubczyk (Poland); Liperi (Finn); Lipstikka (Sweden); Levisticum officinale]
Growing Lovage Plant

This perennial plant is native to southern Eruope and southwestern Asia, but its exact place of origin is unknown, because it has been in cultivation so long. Lovage was a very important flavoring herb during the Roman Empire and is still used in parts of Southern and Eastern Europe, and especially in Georgia, but has fallen out of general culinary use in other regions. The closest substitute we have is Celery Leaves, particularly from Chinese / Cutting Celery, but it's far from perfect. Lovage flavor is similar to a combination of celery and parsley, and quite a bit stronger than celery leaves. The seeds are used as a seasoning and the roots are cooked as a vegetable. All parts of the plant have been used medicinally.   Details and Cooking.   Photo by Microlit distributed under Free Art License v1.3.

Mitsuba   -   [Japanese wild parsley, Cryptotaenia japonica alt. Cryptotaenia canadensis subsp. japonica]
Mitsuba Leaves

Native to North America and East Asia this plant is used as an herb seasoning and sprouts are used in salads. It is described as similar to angelica.   Photo by Mbc distributed under GNU Free Documentation License v1.2.

Parsley - [Petroselinum crispum]

Possibly originating in Persia, parsley is now very commonly used in Europe, North America and Western Asia, and has almost completely displaced coriander (cilantro) as a green herb in Europe.

Parsley Fronds

Leaves:   Two forms are available, flat leaf (Italian) and curly leaf. Flat leaf parsley has a leafy texture, stronger, more complex flavor and is used in cooking. Curly leaf is used as a decorative garnish, having a texture similar to plastic and flavor to match. Like plastic it is very resistant to wilting, which enhances its decorative usefulness. Dried parsley has little flavor so fresh parsley, now available year-round, should always be used, unless you are trying to accurately reconstruct recipes from the Eisenhower era, but who would want to do that?   Details and Cooking.

Fruit (Parsley seed):   The seeds are little used for culinary purposes except to grow parsley from. Getting it to sprout is not easy because its outer coating contains a substance that suppresses sprouting. If grown in pots they should be deep to accommodate the tap root. The seed does find some use in the herbal supplement industry.

Whole Root Parsley Plant

Roots:   Varieties have been developed that produce large tap roots which are popular in cuisines of Central and Eastern Europe. The flavor is more delicate and aromatic, and far less sweet than that of parsnips so they are not at all interchangeable.   Details and Cooking.

Parsnip   -   [Pastinaca sativa]
Parsnip Roots Native to Eurasia, parsnips have been eaten since ancient times and were carried north by the Romans who found they grew much larger in colder climates. They are harvested after the first sharp frost as their flavor improves from this exposure. They are not grown in frost free climates for this reason. In recent times parsnips have been overshadowed by the potato but are still featured in some European traditional meals. Today they are often used to flavor soups and stews. Parsnips are less crisp, sweeter and milder but more aromatic in flavor than carrots. The center photo specimen was 8-3/4 inches long, 2-1/4 inches diameter and weighed 7-1/2 ounces.   Details and Cooking.

Wild parsnips should be avoided as their foliage contain a chemical that sensitize the skin to sunlight, resulting in severe burns. They are also easy to confuse with Hemlock, an extremely deadly relative.

Pepper-Saxifrage   -   [Silaum silaus]
Pickled Pepper-Saxifrage Foliage

The photo specimens were from a jar of "Marinated Meadow Saxifrage" packed in Armenia. The importer further identified it as "Badan". The contents of the jar was neither "Meadow Saxifrage" (Saxifraga granulata) nor "Badan" (Bergenia crassifolia), both in the Order Saxifragales, nor did the picture on the label resemble these.

The product was clearly more related to Fennel (Order Apiales). Based on all evidence available to me, I have identified it as Pepper-Saxifrage, which does prefer to grow in open meadows. The "pepper" part of its name is because the root tastes peppery. The photo specimens were purchased from a large multi-ethnic market in Los Angeles (Sunland), packed in brine in a 720 ml jar for 2017 US $4.99. The contents of the jar was a nice mild herbal pickle such as are popular as appetizers in Armenia.

Radhuni   -   [Wild Celery (not unique); Ajmod (Hindi / Urdu); Trachyspermum roxburghianum alt Carum roxburghianum]
Radhuni Seeds

This plant is grown widely in South and Southeast Asia, including Indonesia. It's highly aromatic seeds are use in curries, and in some parts of West Bengal and Bangladesh replace mustard seed in the Bengali spice mix Panch Phoron. It smells similar to parsley seed, but must be used with considerable discretion as it is very strong and can overpower a dish. The seeds are generally fried in oil until aromatic and crackling before adding other ingredients. The herb can also be used fresh and is reported to be so used in Thailand.   Photo by Badagnani distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Rock Samphire   -   [Crithmum maritimum]
Rock Samphire Plant

A salt tolerant plant that grows on cliffs and rocky shorelines of the British Isles, rock samphire has long been gathered and eaten England, appreciated for it's spicy, aromatic flavor. Gathering it is now illegal in England, though it can be grown from seed in gardens, if you can get seeds. This is the samphire mentioned by Shakespeare and not to be confused with Marsh Samphire (Salicornia europaea) - while used similarly that one's an amaranth, not a parsley.   Photo by Jymm, contributed to the public domain.

Water Dropwort   -   [Java Water Dropwort, Water Celery, Vietnamese Celery; Minari (Korea); Rau Can, Can Nuoc (Viet); Seri (Japan); Komprek (Manipur, India); Oenanthe javanica]
Bundled Water Dropwort Fronds

Most Water Dropworts (Genus Oenanthe) are toxic to extremely toxic, but this one, native to East Asia, is edible. Its thin hollow stems are topped with celery-like leaves. This plant is sometimes called "Chinese celery" and "Japanese parsley", but those names properly belong to completely different plants (both found on our Parsley page). This plant is also grown in Italy as spring greens, and is an invasive in some parts of North America, but not an aggressive one.

Many recipes, calling this plant "Korean Watercress", and say Watercress is a suitable substitute, but it really isn't. The flavor and texture are very different. This plant tastes more like a mix of carrot tops and celery, with a hint of resin. The specimen bundle, purchased at a local Korean market in Los Angeles, was about 15 inches long.   Details and Cooking.

Yampa   -   [Perideridia gairdneri]
Yampa Flower heads

Native to Western North America, this parsley looks like grass until it blooms and prefers to grow in grassy meadows. The peanut size roots were a staple for American Indians but were harvested to extinction in some areas. They were baked or steamed and provided excellent nutrition. The seeds were used as a flavoring similar to caraway seed. Raw, the root acts as a mild laxative.   Photo by U.S. National Parks Service = public domain.

Aralias   -   [Ginsing family, family Araliaceae]

Ginseng   -   [Panax quinquefolius (American); Panax ginseng (Korean)]
Ginseng Roots

Of the two major species of Ginseng, the American, farm grown in Wisconsin and Canada, is considered the best. Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) belongs to a different genus and has a different makeup of active ingredients. While considered inferior, it's put to much the same uses as the Panax species and is often deceptively sold as Panax. Given the reputation of American ginseng, much of the Korean variety is put up in red, white and blue packages and sold as "Wisconsin Ginseng", even by Asian markets here in the USA. The photo specimens, from a Korean market in Los Angeles, were 6-3/4 inches long and weighed 1-3/8 ounce (left) and 2 ounces (right).   Details and Cooking.

Ivy   -   [English Ivy, Common Ivy; Hedera helix]
Ivy vines

Ivy, mostly noted for covering buildings on expensive college campuses, is not actually edible (the seeds are toxic to people but not to birds), nor is it of much use as a medicinal. It's included here just to add perspective to the Aralia family.   Photo © i0076.

Pennywort   -   [Gotu kola (Sri Lanka); Dollarwort (U.S.); Rau-ma (Viet); Myin-kwa-ywet (Burma); Pegaga (Malay); Buabok (Thai); Pegagan (Indonesia); Takip-kohol (Philippine); Centella asiatica (small variety); Hydrocotyle javanica (larger variety) and others]
Pennywort Stems & Leaves

Pennyworts grow worldwide in wet and moist tropical and temperate areas but the varieties of most culinary interest are native to Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka and Australia. Botanists variously place them in family Apiaceae with carrots and parsley or in family Araliaceae with ginseng or in family Mackinlayaceae with a few Australian plants of little note. The largest photo specimen (H. javanica) is 3-1/2 inches across the leaf.

Non-Asian species have fully round leaves with the stem attached near the middle of the underside. Water Pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides) is native to North and South America and grows in water with the leaves floating on the surface. Hydrocotyle vulgaris looks like ranunculoides but grows out of water, is native to North Africa, Europe and Florida, and the variety noted in English and European herbals. All common species are edible.   Details and Cooking

Devil's Walking Stick   -   [Aralia spinosa]
Leafy tree branches

This aralia is native from eastern Texas to the Atlantic and from Pennsylvania down to northern Florida. It is usually planted as a decorative, but young leaves can be chopped fine and used as a potherb. Older leaves are too prickly to be eaten.   Photo by Richard Chambers distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Japanese Angelica Tree   -   [Aralia elata]
Tree branch w/bloom

This aralia is native to northeastern Asia, and is very similar to the American Aralia spinosa and is now an invasive species in northeastern United States. In Japan, Young shoots, called taranomeare, are deep fried with tempura batter. In Korea, young shoots, called dureup, are prepared for various dishes, usually pan fried with a light coating, but can also be simply blanched.   Photo distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Japanese Spiknard   -   [udo (Japanese); Mountain asparagus; Aralia cordata]
Young shoot

This aralia is native to Japan, Korea and eastern China. In the Spring it sends up tender young shoots, which are blanched and eaten as a vegetable. They are often thinly sliced and added to miso soup. They need to be blanched in boiling water a couple of times to remove a resin coating that tastes much like pine resin. Stems do not become woody and can be cooked like asparagus.   Photo distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

Pittosporums   -   [family Pittosporaceae]

Pittosporums are well known in Southern California as landscape shrubs and small trees, particularly Pittosporum tobira which thrives all too well.

Apple Berry   -   [Hairy Apple Berry, Apple Dumpling, Billardiera scandens]
Fruit on tree

Fruits of this shrub which grows over most of Australia were enjoyed by Australian Aborigines, either ripe or roasted unripe. They are variously described as tasting like stewed apple or kiwi fruit. The fruits are a little over 1-1/8 inch long, green with a red blush, and do not ripen until they drop from the shrub.

This shrub is now grown far from it's Australian homeland, but mainly as a decorative that can tolerate part shade from eucalyptus. Few gardeners may even realize the fruits are edible.   Photo by Cas Liber contributed to the public domain.

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