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Japanese Mitsuba parsley (Cryptotaenia japonica) is a member of the Apiaceae family, which includes carrots. Although it is technically a biennial/annual herb, Japanese parsley use is more commonly cultivated as a vegetable in Japan. Mitsuba may also be found under the names Purple-Leaved Japanese Wild Parsley, Mitsuba, and Purple-Leaved Japanese Honewort. Plants are low growing, about 18-24 inches tall by 8 inches across with heart-shaped, lightly ruffled leaves borne off of purple/bronze stems. The plant flowers light pink in mid-summer. In Asian cuisine, Japanese parsley is used as a seasoning, a potency tonic and the leaves and root are cooked as a vegetable while sprouts are eaten in salads. All parts of the plant are edible from roots to seed; however, some people report toxic effects (dermatitis) from repeated contact and toxicity from eating large quantities of the plant. The flavor is said to be akin to celery combined with parsley, sorrel and coriander. Yum! The lovely trefoil leaves are sometimes used in Japanese flower arranging (Ikebana). The stems are tied into a knot to decorate traditional Japanese dishes designed to bring good luck to the happy couple. Harvest Japanese parsley a few leaves at a time in bunches just as you would any other herb. Use fresh or add to cooked dishes at the last minute. Overcooking Mitsuba will destroy its wonderful aroma and flavor.

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