Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ashitaba (Japanese Angelica)

Scientific name: Angelica Keiskei Koidzumi

Family: Umbelliferae

Part used: Leaf and stem

Principal Use: Poor digestion, infections, skin disease

Principal Action: Stomachic, aromatic bitter, antiseptic, antimicrobial, vulnerary

History and Traditional Uses of Ashitaba

Ashitaba is native to the Izu islands in the temperate Pacific Sea. In appearance, it is quite similar to its more commonly known relative, garden angelica (Angelica archangelica). It grows wild in the sandy beaches of these southerly Japanese Islands.

Ashitaba’s name, in Japanese (in English: Tomorrow's Leaf or Earth Growth), refers to an interesting botanical fact. If its leaves are picked in the morning, new leaves will be in place by the next morning. The plant is incredibly vigorous and its name reflects this! Indeed it thrives in roadsides and backyards without any care on the part of the gardener. The Izu islanders have used this wild plant as both food and medicine since the earliest times.