Parsley Mix Parsleys, Aralias & Pittosporum - [Order Apiales]
The Apiales include one major culinary family and a couple very minor ones.

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

Aralias (Araliaceae), though so closely related to Parsleys as to cause botanical confusion about which family some plants belong to, are noted mainly for medicinals and little for edibles.

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Parsleys

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 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]
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.

Ajwan   -   [Carom seed; Omam (Tamil); Ajmo (Gujarati); Owa (Marathi); Trachyspermum copticum]
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. Ajwan contains thymol and raw it smells and tastes like thyme but stronger, harsher and with some bitterness. Raw ajwan 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 ajwan is lovage seed but that is incorrect.

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

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 sort, 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)]
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, 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.


Celery - Stalk   -   [A. graveolens var dulce]
Untrimmed Celery grown in the US 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. 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 very rarely seen and are considered less desirable. In Europe a "self blanching" variety is favored that is mostly pale yellow like the center of our celery. This is as absurd as their penchant for flavorless white asparagus.   Details and Cooking.

Celery - Root   -   [Celeriac, Knob celery, Turnip rooted celery, A. graveolens var rapaceum]
Whole Plant

Developed in Europe during the Renaissance, these roots are 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. These roots are generally used to flavor soups, stews and mashed potatoes, but can be eaten on their own raw or cooked, especially in salads. They 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.

Celery - Chinese   -   [A. graveolens]
Untrimmed 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 many Asian markets here. If your recipe calls for it and you can't get it, use regular celery above the first joint where the flavor is stronger. The larger of the two photo specimens was 30 inches long and weighed 11 ounces.   Details and Cooking.

Celery - Wild   -   [Smallage, A. graveolens var secalinum]
This thin, stringy ancestor of our celery is cultivated for one purpose, production of celery seed. The seeds are smaller and stronger than those of domesticated celery and production is greater.

Celery Seed   -   [Celeriac, A. graveolens]
Seeds

Celery seed (actually very tiny fruits) are produced from wild celery rather than the domesticated varieties. 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 is often ground 1 part to 3 parts salt to make celery salt which is used in the bar drink "Bloody Mary" as well as on Chicago style hot dogs and in Old Bay seafood seasoning.

Celery seed was known for treatment of pain earlier than 30 BCE but this use is not recognized by the FDA. Studies in Australia and South Africa have shown celery seed extract effective in treating and preventing inflammation and gout, "Hearsay evidence" strongly supports those studies (1). To this I add my own testimony, and mention that if you don't have the extract, eating a couple celery heads a day will also work in an emergency - get ones with thin stems and lots of leaves and side branches.


Chervil   -   [Gourmet's parsley, Garden Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolium, Apium prostratum (Australian)]
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 Rasbak distributed under GNU Free Documentation License.

Cicely   -   [Sweet Cicely, Myrrhis odorata]
Plant Drawing

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 of drawing by Kurt Stueber distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0.

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.


Fronds Cilantro   [Coriander Leaf]   This herb was once in common use all over Europe, but has been 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, sometimes to excess, in most non-European cuisines worldwide.

Many long years ago, when I first starting cooking, I was using the 1000 Recipe Chinese Cookbook and was totally mystified by all the calls for "Chinese Parsley". No such thing was sold in Southern California. Now remember, the public Internet was still 30 years away, so you couldn't get questions answered in 12 seconds back then.

In North America, Cilantro is now available in just about every supermarket and ethnic market. Some that I shop at must sell at least a cubic yard of it on a typical Saturday.

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.

There is a strong "I hate Cilantro" movement on the Internet, but the condition is curable by exposure. A leader of one such group, after extensive testing for hate articles, realized she had come to rather like cilantro and had to resign. Her's is far from the only such story.   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; Ngo gai (Viet); Eryngium foetidum]
Leaves

Native to Mexico and South America this herb is now grown worldwide and particularly popular in Thailand and Vietnam, but is little known in North America. Unlike Cilantro with which it is often compared, culantro dries fairly well, retaining color and flavor. It is said to be stronger but similar in taste to cilantro, but I do not find it very similar. It can now be found fresh in most of the Asian markets here in Los Angeles.

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

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 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 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 ?????]
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)]
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   -   [Levisticum officinale]
Plant

Lovage was a very important flavoring herb during the Roman Empire and is still used in parts of Southern Europe, and especially in Georgia, but has fallen out of general culinary use. The closest substitute we have is Celery Leaves, but it's far from perfect. Strangely, what is sold commercially as "lovage seed" is often actually Ajwan, while much of what is sold as "celery seed" is actually part or wholly lovage seed. Lovage is often used as an insect repelling companion plant and is used in herbal medicine.   Illustration from Koehler's Medicinal-Plants 1887 copyright expired.

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


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 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]
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.

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

Yampa   -   [Perideridia gairdneri]
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.

Ginseng is reputed to improve libido and sexual performance, improve blood circulation, response to stress and recovery from weakness. Side effects are reputed to be insomnia and change in blood pressure (up or down). 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).

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]
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.

Links
  1. Celery Seed and Gout - Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs.
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