Tag Archives: chorogi

Red shiso

Perilla frutescens var crispa f. purpurascens (red or purple shiso) is looking good on the window sill in front of my desk! This is an important crop in the Far East both used as a flavouring, a dye plant, as wraps (the seeds, seed oil and seed sprouts are also used). I’d love to use the leaves to colour pickled chinese artichokes (chorogi), as shown on the Backyard Larder blog (see https://backyardlarder.co.uk/plants/chinese-artichoke), but the chorogi aren’t ready until November. Maybe I’ll try drying some leaves!
I grow this annual indoors as it’s generally too cold outside here in summer. It’s also difficult to save seeds as it doesn’t start flowering until late autumn and usually dies rather than producing seeds, a dead end for me, but now and again someone offers me seed for trading as in this case!
Perilla is also of course commonly used as an ornamental in warmer areas like Southern England, but I’ve also seen it outside in Gothenburg in Southern Sweden.
Perilla is in the mint family and it’s also easy to make more plants by taking cuttings (like basil).
I most often use shiso in my mixed salads.

Jack-go-to-bed-by-noon/Chorogi/Madeira vine tuber harvest

Harvested roots of Jack-go-to-bed-by-noon (Tragopogon pratensis), an introduced weed in my garden. It is related to salsify and scorzonera – I eat the roots and force a few for early spring greens; Madeira vine is in the Basellaceae and isn’t everybody’s cup-of-tea as they are rather mucilaginous – they can also be forced in winter for the equally mucilaginous greens! I LIKE THEM, but always mixed with other veg. Finally, I harvested my long neglected chorogi which were surprisingly good yielding despite the fact that they were completely overgrown by weeds..
All are now stored in the cellar.

Jack-go-to-bed-by-noon (Tragopogon pratensis) / geitskjegg

Anredera cordifolia (Madeira vine)

Chorogi or chinese artichoke (Stachys affinis)


Joke plants

From top left and clockwise: Medicago radiata, Medicago scutellata “Sava” and Scorpiurus spp. (picture from my garden on 31st July 2004)

Chorogi or chinese artichokes (Stachys affinis)








I read some 15 years ago (but would love a proper reference*) that the Victorians (and some more recent jokers too) were fond of practical jokes and would add various plant parts that resembled caterpillars, snails, worms etc to their salads. I call them collectively joke plants. I should grow them again…I love humour in the garden :)

Scorpiurus muricatus and S. vermiculatus (Prickly caterpillars, prickly scorpionstail / skorpionurt), Medicago scutellata “Sava” (snail medick), Medicago radiata (ray-podded medick) and chorogi or chinese artichoke (Stachys affinis) are examples. Pictures below (yes, I’ve grown them and smuggled them into my salads for the entertainment of unsuspecting visitors!)
*I find the following reference in Google Books:  A Joy of Gardening by Victoria Sackville-West (Harper, 1958). On pages 184-186, there’s a section called “Joke plants” which I’d love to get hold of! Anyone have this book?
Add 050916: Thanks to Alison Tindale who mentioned joke plants in her great blog  The Backyard Larder having seen a reference in the classic book by Fearing Burr The Field and Garden Vegetables of America Containing Full Descriptions of Nearly Eleven Hundred Species and Varietes; With Directions for Propagation,Culture and Use”  (1863). See 
http://backyardlarder.blogspot.hu/2013/06/rhubarb-vegetable.html (at the bottom)