Mitsubas are a type of perennial herbs native to Japan. They grow from ground level up to a height of 2 meters (6 feet). They have three main parts: leaves, stems and flowers. Leaves are arranged in spirals or lobes, which give them their name “mitsu” meaning “three”. Flowers are small white or pinkish red fruits with five petal bases. The leaves are used fresh or dried, but they are most commonly eaten raw.
The Japanese use various types of mitsuba plants in cooking and medicine. Some people eat the leaves whole; others chop them into pieces; still others grind them into powder to add to soups and stews. They make tea out of the powdered leaves or brew it into a drink called “mitsuboshi” (Japanese herbal tea) made from the roots. The leaves and roots are also used in making medicinal teas, tonics, tinctures and extracts.
There are many different varieties of mitsuba plants. Some have large leaves while others have smaller ones. Most of them grow only in Japan, though there are some that grow all over the world. There is one particular variety that grows all over Japan known as “kobu” (茶), which means “mountain ash”. This plant is a common sight in the mountains and forests of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.
Most of them are green all year round but some turn red during the autumn.
Here at Mitsuba Plant Info: Learn About Growing Japanese Parsley, we’ve got you covered from A to Z when it comes to mitsubas! From plant care to recipes to household uses, we’ve compiled all the information you need to know about this delicious Japanese herb.
Mitsubas are a great way to add flavor, nutrition and gorgeous green color to just about any meal. They can be eaten raw in salads or on their own as tasty snacks. The leaves and stems can also be used as garnishes and the roots can be boiled and consumed just like potatoes.
Some people even like to make tea out of the chopped up herbs. They say it has a crisp, refreshing flavor. The powdered leaves can be mixed with salt and used as a condiment to give meals an extra kick. You can even use mitsubas to make jam, jelly, tea, potpourri, soap and medicine. It’s a versatile herb that can be used in the kitchen and bath!
Like all plants, mitsubas need to be taken care of in order to grow to their fullest potential. Each one has different needs when it comes to watering, sunlight, temperature and soil composition. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of tips and information on how to care for your mitsubas.
Lighting & Watering: Most people like to place their mitsubas by a window so they can receive natural sunlight. However, if this isn’t an option you can always use a grow light. Just make sure to keep it 4 inches away from the leaves. As far as watering goes, mitsubas should be watered about once a week. You don’t want them to dry up, but you also don’t want them to drown.
Be mindful of how fast the soil dries out and water accordingly.
Temperature: Mitsubas prefer temperatures between 65-80 degrees, so a location that is away from major heat sources would be best. On the opposite side, they do not do well in cold environments (below 40 degrees). It is best to keep these plants outside in the summer and bring them inside in the winter; this can also be done with a grow light so the plant can stay in the same location year-round.
Soil: Good ol’ dirt will do just fine. However, it is important that the soil you are using drains well. Mitsubas do not like their feet to be soggy, just like the rest of us!
Fertilizer: Just like people, plants need nutrients to grow big and strong. But fear not! This plant does not need much. Just give it a good watering with a liquid fertilizer or compost tea every now and then.
Propagation: If you find yourself overwhelmed by mitsubas or if you simply want more of them, you can easily propagate these plants. All you need is a few leaves and some patience. Detach a leaf from the plant, don’t pick off the whole stem. Place this leaf in a glass of water and wait. In a few weeks you should see it begin to root.
Continue to water it and in a few months you should have a brand new mitsuba!
So there you have it folks, all the basics on how to grow these tasty Japanese herbs. Be sure to read our other articles on mitsubas for some recipes and other fun ways to prepare and use these nutritious greens!
Sources & references used in this article:
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Postharvest physiology and handling of fresh culinary herbs by MI Cantwell, MS Reid – … of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants, 1993 – Taylor & Francis
Edible Asian Garden by R Creasy – 2015 – books.google.com
Phenolic acids, flavonoids and total antioxidant capacity of selected leafy vegetables by UKS Khanam, S Oba, E Yanase, Y Murakami – Journal of Functional Foods, 2012 – Elsevier
New crop introduction: exploration, research and commercialization of aromatic plants in the new world by JE Simon – … I-Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Conference: part 3 of …, 1992 – actahort.org