Cryptotaenia canadensis

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: Canadian honewort 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Apiaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to September
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Herb, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Deer


Best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in part shade. Thrives in sun dappled conditions. Tolerates close to full shade. Foliage may burn in full sun. Plants may aggressively self-sow in the garden to form colonies. Sheer off flower stems after bloom to avoid unwanted self-seeding.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cryptotaenia canadensis, commonly called honewort, wild chervil or umbelweed, is a tuberous-rooted herbaceous perennial of the parsley/carrot family that typically grows to 1-3’ tall. It is noted for producing trifoliate leaves and compound umbels of tiny white flowers in summer. It is native primarily to woodland areas from Quebec to Manitoba south to Texas and Florida where it is typically found growing in moist forests, rich woods, ravines, wooded valleys and along streams, ledges and bluffs. Leaves (3-6” long) are palmately divided into three elliptic to ovate leaflets with sharply toothed margins. Tiny 5-petaled white flowers (1/8” long) which lack visible sepals bloom in terminal and axillary compound umbels from June to September. Flowers are somewhat characteristic of the flowers typically produced by members of the carrot/parsley family. Flowers give way to blackish, oblong, ribbed fruits.

Young stems and leaves may be added fresh to salads (like parsley) as a flavoring or may be boiled as a green. Gives a parsley-like flavor to soup. Roots can be cooked and eaten like parsnips. Seeds can be used as a spice.

This species is a host plant for the black swallowtail butterfly.

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 Canadian.

Common name of honewort is used to describe several different species of plants in the parsley/carrot family. Wort means plant and hone is a swelling in the cheek which honewort plants purportedly will cure.


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


Interesting plant for shady areas of the landscape. Native plant gardens. Woodland areas. Culinary herb for herb gardens.