In early April 2016, on my study tour to Japan, I was invited to the mountain home of Ken Takewaki (and Masama) for a short visit. I wrote about Ken’s home and the shock of waking to new snow after 20C the day before in the lowlands back in April (see http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=6357)! Despite the snow, Ken took us on a trip around the local area (Sugadaira in Nagano) and we had a walk around a local wetland nature reserve, before Ken took us on a long walk up through the forest where he had recently taken over a piece of land in a clearing to grow vegetables. All the signs were in Japanese, so I don’t know the names of many of the plants we saw, but here’s the pictures:
On my trip to Japan in spring 2016, I found shidoke (シドケ / Parasenecio delphiniifolia syn. Cacalia delphiniifolia) leaves on sale in a supermarket in Ueda, Japan. This is the only place I saw it during my 3 week visit to Japan, so not one of the most popular sansai or wild mountain vegetables. I’ve been growing this plant for a few years now in a very shady spot in the garden and it’s just come into flower which prompted this post. It’s a great woodland ornamental grown for its leaves and an unusual forest garden edimental. It is also known as momijigasa (モミジガサ) which translates as “maple umbrella” due to the similarity of the leaves to Acer palmatum. It resembles yaburegasa (Syneilesis palmata) meaning “torn umbrella”. I didn’t see shidoke in the wild, but I did see yaburegasain in one place on the Izu peninsula. Both of these plants in the Asteraceae have edible young shoots, although shidoke is the preferred one. I bought a packet in that supermarket and my friends Ken and Masami who we visited that night were kind enough to prepare it as tempura! It is apparently pleasant tasting raw, but is most often cooked and served with a little soy sauce and roasted sesame seed once cool. Shidoke contains antioxidants that have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
See also http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=6357 (Visit to Ken and Masami) and this blog post on FB at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10154213988935860.1073742705.655215859&type=1&l=eb0bc1fced