Cryptotaenia japonica f. atropurpurea

Common Name: Japanese parsley 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Apiaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Light pink to purple
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade. Thrives in moist, rich soils. Tolerates close to full shade. Foliage may burn in full sun. May aggressively self-sow in the garden to form colonies. Sheer off flower stems after bloom to avoid unwanted seeding. Although perennial, this plant is often grown from seed as an annual for culinary and/or ornamental use.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cryptotaenia japonica, commonly called Japanese parsley, Japanese honeywort or mitsuba, is an herbaceous perennial with foliage that somewhat resembles a flat-leaved parsley. It is native to moist woodland areas and ditches in eastern Asia. Branching stems of ternate compound leaves (mitsuba means three leaves in Japanese) with serrated ovate segments (each to 2-4" long) typically grow in an upright clump to 12-18" tall and as wide. Small white flowers in umbels bloom in summer on stems rising about 6" above the foliage. Seeds ripen in August-September. Plants are frequently used as culinary herbs in Asian cuisine. Leaves and stems are considered to have a parsley/celery-like flavor and may be added to soups, salads or other hot/cold dishes as a flavoring and/or garnish. Roots can be blanched and sauteed.

Forma atropurpurea plants have ruffled purple-black foliage and stems which contribute significant ornamental interest to garden areas. Umbels of light pink to purple flowers bloom above the foliage in midsummer bringing plant height to 24" tall. Leaves typically lose sharp color intensity as the summer progresses. Culinary uses are the same as for species plants. Very closely related to Cryptotaenia japonica is the North American species Cryptotaenia canadensis, which is native from Quebec to Manitoba south to Georgia and Texas. In Missouri, it is found in rocky woods, ravines, valleys and along streams and bluff ledges throughout the State (Steyermark).

Genus name comes from the Greek word cryptos meaning hidden and tainia meaning band, ribbon or fillet in probable reference to oil tubes hidden or concealed in the fruits.

Specific epithet means of Japan.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for slugs and snails.


Culinary herb for herb gardens. Purple foliage has good ornamental value for rock gardens, borders or shady areas of the landscape. Containers.