I have been intrigued by growing popularity of ashitaba plant so I decided to research on it. There are several who sell what they claim as ashitaba but on closer look they are really gynura procumbens.
Angelica keiskei, more widely known under the japanese name of Ashitaba , literally “Tomorrow’s Leaf”) is a not frost tender perennial plant from the angelica genus with an average growth height of 50–120 cm endemic to Hachijō-jima, though it is artificially cultivated in Izu Ōshima, Nii-jima, To-shima and parts of Honshū as well. The plants additional cultivar epithet koidzumi refers to botanist Gen’ichi Koizumi while its japanese nomenclature stems from the above-average regenerative capabilities it exhibits when getting injured. Harvesting a leaf at the break of day results often in a new sprout growing over night, being visible the following morning. Traditionally, it is seen as a major contributor to the supposedly healthier, extended lives of the local residents what may be based on its substantial levels of vitamin B12 and chalconoids that are unique to this species of angelica.
Based on the experience of fellow plant enthusiasts, growing this plant is quite a challenge. Germination is low and so is the survival rate. But I am up to the challenge so I decided to purchase 1 packet at P750 including shipment cost. I plan to grow them in our farm in Alfonso, Cavite because they say that the plant thrives in cooler environments. I hope that I will succeed in germinating these precious seeds. As they say in Filipino, “abangan and susunod na kabanata“.
The seller gave me these steps when I inquired on the proper procedure of germinating the seeds:
Cultivation: Soak seeds overnight in cool, non-chlorinated water and then refrigerate the seeds (~40 degrees F) in moist medium for 30 days. The moist medium could be moist sand, moist potting soil, moist coir or moist peat. Note that our recommendation is MOIST not SODDEN or VERY WET.
Then plant the (still moist) seeds. Sow on surface, barely cover with soil and press in firmly and keep evenly moist until germination. Use a greenhouse, shadehouse or grow lights. Germination occurrs 15 days after sowing. Seedlings are slow-growing and will require about 60 days to transplant. Once past the seedling stage, the plant is fast growing. The plants prefer rich, deep, evermoist, well-drained soil and full sun to part shade. Water every other day. If you are in Arizona, give shade. If you are in Coastal Maine, give sun. The flowering cycle is biennial and the plants are monocarpic.
1. Ashitaba Plant (http://herbs.lovetoknow.com/Ashitaba_Plant)
2. Ashitaba (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashitaba)