Facts about Honewort

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Honewort Quick Facts
Name: Honewort
Scientific Name: Cryptotaenia canadensis
Origin Eastern United States and eastern Canada
Colors Green at first, turning dark brown with greenish-yellow ribs at maturity.
Shapes 2-chambered seedcase (schizocarp). It is smooth, hairless, narrowly oblong-elliptic, and ⅛″ to ¼″ long. It is more than twice as long as wide
Taste Crisp, celery-like taste (Leaves)
Cryptotaenia canadensis commonly known as the honewort or Canadian honewort is a perennial plant species belonging to Apiaceae / Umbelliferae (Carrot family). The plant is native inhabitant of rich, moist forests in the eastern United States and eastern Canada, although it is rare in Maine, where it is known only from historical collections. Few of the popular common names of the plants are honewort, wild chervil, umbel weed, Canadian honewort, White chervil, Canada honewort and Japanese parsley. It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. Young stems and leaves may be added fresh to salads (like parsley) as a flavoring or may be boiled as a green. It 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.

The genus name Cryptotaenia is derived from the Greek krypto, meaning “to hide” and taenia meaning a band, ribbon or fillet – together thought to refer to the oil tubes hidden or concealed in the fruits. The species name canadensis means of or from Canada. The common name of honewort refers to a plant that has medicinal qualities (the wort part) but hone is of unknown origin making it unclear what was supposed to be treated by using the plant. Wort means plant and hone is a swelling in the cheek which honewort plants purportedly will cure.

Honewort Facts

Name Honewort
Scientific Name Cryptotaenia canadensis
Native Eastern United States and eastern Canada
Common Names Honewort, wild chervil, umbel weed, Canadian honewort, White chervil, Canada honewort, Japanese parsley
Name in Other Languages Afrikaans: Honewort
Albanian: Honewort
Amharic: Adīsi (አዲስ)
Arabic: Alsharaf (الشرف)
Armenian: Honewort
Azerbaijani: Dəbdəbəli
Bengali: Honewort
Bulgarian: Honewort
Burmese: Kyaayyjuupar (ကျေးဇူးပါ)
Chinese: Honewort
Croatian: Honewort
Czech: Zimolez
Danish: Honewort
Dutch: Honewort
English: Honewort, Canadian honewort, White chervil, Wild chervil, Canada honewort, Japanese parsley, umbelweed,
Esperanto: Honewort
Estonian: Kibuvits
Filipino: Papuri
Finnish: Honewort, Kanadanyrttiputki
French: Miellée, Cryptoténie du Canada
Georgian: Honewort–wôrt,ˈhōnˌwərt
German: Honewort, kanadische Rispendolde
Greek: Timí (τιμή)
Gujarati: Honewort
Hausa: Mannewa
Hebrew: Honewort
Hindi: Honewort
Hungarian: Honewort
Icelandic: Honewort
Indonesian: Honewort
Irish: Féithleann
Italian: Honewort
Japanese: Honewort
Javanese: Ngaturake
Kannada: Hanivarṭ (ಹನಿವರ್ಟ್)
Kazakh: Qurmettew (құрметтеу)
Korean: Honewort
Kurdish: Honewort
Lao: Bon chodheu (ບ່ອນຈອດເຮືອ)
Latin: Honewort
Latvian: Sausserdis
Lithuanian: Sausmedis
Macedonian: Honewort
Malagasy: Honewort
Malay: Penghargaan
Malayalam: Hēāṇvēārṭṭ (ഹോൺവോർട്ട്)
Maltese: Honewort
Marathi: Honewort
Mongolian: Khongor (хонгор)
Nepali: Honewort
Norwegian: Honewort
Oriya: ହୋନୱର୍ଟ |
Pashto: Honewort
Persian: افتخار
Polish: Honewort
Portuguese: Honewort, Criptotenia
Punjabi: Honewort
Romanian: Honewort
Russian: Honewort, kriptoteniya kanadskaya (криптотения канадская), skrytnitsa kanadskaya (скрытница канадская)
Serbian: Honevort (хоневорт)
Sindhi: اعزازي مڃيو
Sinhala: Honewort
Slovenian: Honewort
Spanish: Honewort
Sudanese: Honewort
Swedish: Honewort, Kanadapersilja
Tajik: ʙovafo (бовафо)
Tamil: Honewort
Telugu: Honewort
Thai: Honewort
Turkish: Honewort
Ukrainian: Honewort
Urdu: Honewort
Uzbek: Samimiyat
Vietnamese: Chúc mừng
Welsh: Gwenith yr hydd
Zulu: Honewort
Plant Growth Habit Tuberous-rooted herbaceous perennial
Growing Climates Rich woods, thickets, woodland ravines, riverbanks, deciduous and mixed forest, woodland margins, stream banks, edges of shady seeps, wooded areas along springs and streams, wooded bluffs, fence rows and shady edges of yards
Soil Prefers medium to light shade, moist to mesic conditions, and rich, loamy soil with ample organic matter. It also often grows in silty soils. It tolerates waterlogged soils and temporary flooding
Plant Size 1-3 feet tall
Root Taproot system. Instead of growing clusters of long, fibrous roots, a honewort plant has one dominant root from which smaller, secondary roots (rootlets) grow
Stem Erect, branched above the middle, light green, and hairless. They are slender, less than 5 ⁄16 inches thick
Leaf Leaves are alternate and are divided into 3 leaflets. The terminal leaflet is symmetrical. The two lateral leaflets are asymmetrical, with the lower half (away from the terminal leaflet) usually distinctly wider than the upper half
Flowering season June to July
Flower Flowers have 0 to 5 sepals, 5 petals, 5 stamens, and 2 styles. The ovary is hairless. If present, the sepals are reduced in size to minute teeth. The petals are white, inversely egg-shaped, and rounded or abruptly pointed at the tip
Pollinators
  • Hoverflies
  • Wasps
  • Beetles
  • Flies
  • Bees
Fruit Shape & Size 2-chambered seedcase (schizocarp). It is smooth, hairless, narrowly oblong-elliptic, and ⅛ to ¼ inches long. It is more than twice as long as wide
Fruit Color Green at first, turning dark brown with greenish-yellow ribs at maturity.
Taste Crisp, celery-like taste
Plant Parts Used
  • Stem
  • Leaves
  • Seeds or Nuts
  • Flowers
Lifespan Three or more years
Season Late August and early September

Plant Description

Honewort is a tuberous-rooted herbaceous perennial plant that normally grows about 1-3 feet tall. The plant is found growing in rich woods, thickets, woodland ravines, riverbanks, deciduous and mixed forest, woodland margins, stream banks, edges of shady seeps, wooded areas along springs and streams, wooded bluffs, fence rows and shady edges of yards. The plant prefers medium to light shade, moist to mesic conditions, and rich, loamy soil with sufficient organic matter. It also often grows in silty soils and tolerates waterlogged soils and temporary flooding.

Root

Honewort has a taproot system. Instead of growing clusters of long, fibrous roots, a honewort plant has one dominant root from which smaller, secondary roots (rootlets) grow.The roots, like the visible parts of the plant, are edible. They have a taste comparable to parsnips. The roots never get overly bitter with age, but they do become tougher. Generally, younger plants are more popular than mature ones. Because there is one central root, the plant does not spread by rhizomes.

Stem

Honewort stems are green and smooth. They don’t have any hairs growing along them. The stems are light green and have one leaf per node. If you look closely at the lower half of the stem, you’ll see elongated membranous sheaths forming around the petioles. These sheaths make the area of the stem they cover cloudy or milky, while the rest of the stem is a vibrant green. Like leaves, the stems are edible and a popular parsley substitute.

Leaves

The leaves are alternate and are divided into 3 leaflets. The terminal leaflet is symmetrical. The two lateral leaflets are asymmetrical, with the lower half (away from the terminal leaflet) usually distinctly wider than the upper half. This causes the leaflets to appear somewhat swept forward. Lower leaves are on leaf stalks (petioles) that are up to 4 inches long. The petiole forms a sheath at the base that wraps around the stem. The sheath is not inflated. When flattened out it is less than ⅜ inches wide.

The leaflets are lance-shaped, elliptic, or egg-shaped, 1¼ to 6 inches long, and up to 2 inches wide. They are sometimes cut into two unevenly-sized lobes. They taper at the base to a winged leaflet stalk (petiolule) and taper at the tip to a sharp point. The upper and lower surfaces are hairless. The margins are toothed with coarse or fine, sharp, forward-pointing teeth. They are sometimes doubly toothed, the major teeth larger and forward-pointing. The lateral veins of the leaflet branch before reaching the margin, and the branches extend to the tips of the major teeth. The leaves become progressively smaller and shorter stalked as they ascend the stem. Upper leaves are stalk less.

Flowers

The inflorescence is a compound umbel at the end of the stem and each branch appearing in June to July. The umbels are round and 2 to 3 inches in diameter, and have 2 to 7 stalks (rays). The rays are ascending, hairless, and 3 ⁄16 to 2 inches long. They are unequal in length. They are sometimes subtended by a single leaf-like appendage (bract). When present, the bract is linear, sharply pointed, and shorter than the ray. Each ray terminates in a secondary umbel (umbellet).

Each umbellet has 2 to 10 stalked flowers. The stalks (raylets) are 1⁄16 to 13 ⁄16 inches long and are unequal in length. They are sometimes subtended by 1 to 3 bractlets. The bractlets, when present, are lance-shaped, up to ⅛ inches long, and shorter than the raylets. Each raylet terminates in a single tiny flower.

The flowers have 0 to 5 sepals, 5 petals, 5 stamens, and 2 styles. The ovary is hairless. If present, the sepals are reduced in size to minute teeth. The petals are white, inversely egg-shaped, and rounded or abruptly pointed at the tip. There are 5 stamens, widely spaced, with yellowish anthers; 2 styles; both styles and anthers exserted from the corolla throat. The ovary is of 2 carpels. Sepals are absent or reduced to small scales, leaving the green calyx short and tubular.

Fruit

Fertile flowers are followed by a 2-chambered seedcase (schizocarp). It is green at first, turning dark brown with greenish-yellow ribs at maturity. It is smooth, hairless, narrowly oblong-elliptic, and 4 to 7 mm long. It is more than twice as long as wide. It is slightly flattened laterally and tapers to a short, prolonged extension (beak) at the tip. When ripe, the fruit splits into 2 separate seedcases (mericarps), each with a single seed. Seeds need at least 60 days of moist stratification for germination. Each mericarp has 5 ribs. The ribs are not winged.

Culinary Uses

  • Young leaves, stems and flowers can be consumed raw or cooked.
  • It is used as a potherb or added to salads.
  • Root can be consumed after cooking.
  • Seeds are used as flavoring for cakes, breads and biscuits.
  • Its young leaves and stems may be used as a seasoning like parsley or as a boiled green.
  • The roots may be cooked and eaten like parsnips.

Other Facts

  • It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
  • It is an interesting plant for shady areas of the landscape, native plant gardens and woodland areas.
  • Honewort flowers, while very small, provide nectar for pollinators.
  • The flowers are not fragrant, nor do they have a strong taste.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=29475#null

http://www.hear.org/pier/species/cryptotaenia_canadensis.htm

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cryptotaenia+canadensis

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=300015&n=1

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/CPBCA

https://gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/cryptotaenia/canadensis/

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2746570

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptotaenia_canadensis

https://plants.usda.gov/home/plantProfile?symbol=CRCA9

https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/woodland/plants/honewort.htm

https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/canadian-honewort

http://temperate.theferns.info/plant/Cryptotaenia+canadensis

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