'Shungiku' Garland Chrysanthemum
Improvement status: Cultivar
Seeds per packet: ~250
Germination tested 12/2021: 95%
Life cycle: Annual
Shungiku' is a popular edible chrysanthemum variety from Japan. Both the pale lacy leaves and pretty flowers are eaten raw, cooked, or pickled. It has a unique flavor somewhere between green tea and lettuce (and quite close to oxeye daisy, a cousin, which is one of our favorite edible invasive plants). It makes a great addition to any salad!
The nutrients in shungiku have been shown to be effective against arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. It is also said to be good for easing constipation, protecting against colds, and increasing the appetite. Scientists have a lot more studying to do, but traditional medicinal uses of this plant in China are quite varied, from controlling hot flashes to fighting cancer.
GROWING TIPS: Seedlings are as hardy as lettuce, and will germinate in cool soil along with the earliest spring crops.
Photo attributed to ChildofMidnight, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18655457