it’s time to play ‘name that vine’

codonopsisSOMETIMES I WONDER WHERE I GOT ALL THESE CRAZY PLANTS. This one, for instance, which just started blooming in the front yard. What the heck is it?

The plant in question, an East Asian native, is Codonopsis lanceolata (and don’t ask me how I even remember such trivia, when more days than not I can’t remember what tool I was going to get by the time I stand up to walk toward the barn). C. lanceolata, the bonnet bellflower is (no surprise) a Campanula relative.

Though virtually nobody in these parts grows it, you can: Asiatica Nursery sold it, and Digging Dog has its blue-flowered cousin, C. clematidea. As the species name of the latter seems to imply, grow Codonopsis like Clematis: up and over trellises or shrubbery, where their feet will be in shade and their heads in the sun.

One person who definitely does grow them, and in a big way, is Paul Kneebone in England, who has created a whole website in their honor.  Other enthusiasts include growers who produce the ingredients for traditional Chinese medicine, since C. lanceolata is apparently also known as “poor man’s ginseng,” and its roots used in similar ways, though it is much milder.

Decide you don’t like it after all? Dig it up, then season and broil the roots Korean-style according to the recipe on this page (which also tells the medicinal uses).

  1. Dean Riddle says:

    At first I thought, hmmm….Cobaea sp.? Then when I looked at the second picture I was like: some cute Spigellia, perhaps??? What’s M got up her sleeve?

    Codonopsis. New to me. Adorable. Thanx. LOVE the buds!

  2. margaret says:

    Dean’s right, the buds (which take forever to open!) are pretty swell, too. And as Fern says, the inside-outside contracts is pretty striking. Glad you all find it as curious as I do.

    And welcome to Eric Bronson. I hope we will see you again here soon at Margaret’s House of Curiosities. Enjoy!

  3. leslie land says:

    Way cool codonopsis, Margaret! The purple inside is so striking against the green.

    I’ve been growing a “codonopsis” for years but never knew there were all these nifty varieties. The flowers on mine are smaller and all green, so I think it’s probably C. pilosula, also medicinal and sold as utilitarian rather than decorative, even though it’s very pretty.

    Started it from seed too long ago to remember the source, but I did check before writing and found seed at an outfit I’m fond of: Garden Medicinals and Culinaries (https://www.gardenmedicinals.com). Germination is easy, and it starts blooming the second year.

  4. margaret says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, Leslie. The interior is almost maroon, a wine color I guess you’d say. Fascinating creature indeed.

  5. I’m going to have to add that to the long list of must-haves. It looks like my kind of subtle. (I seem to prefer flowers that are either bright orange or flowers that you have to really hunt for. I think I must have a split personality…) Thanks for sharing this one!

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