The ‘Tomorrow Leaf Plant’

Angelica keiskei was once a popular medicinal herb in Singapore. From afar, I think it looks like a enlarged version of the flat leaf parsley plant (Petroselinum neapolitanum). In fact, do not be surprised to know that both plants are members of the Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) family. Common vegetables such as the carrot, celery and dill are also members of this family.

This medicinal herb is often sold singly in pots. It grows as a rosetted plant with a height of about 20 to 30 cm tall. Its large, much divided leaves confers a rather lush look to the entire plant. From my observation, Angelica keiskei seems to prefer to grow in a semi-shaded and sheltered location in Singapore’s hot and humid tropical climate. It doesn’t seem to be able to take our heavy, torrential rains that come down from the skies during certain times of the year here.

Outdoors, try growing Angelica keiskei in a shaded spot that is kept moist at all times. When exposed to excessive direct sunshine, this plant will wilt and turn into a sickly shade of yellow. It needs to be kept moist at all times and hence never allow the soil to dry out. Grow it in moist, fertile soil that is also free-draining.

Angelica keiskei makes a good and attractive houseplant for highrise gardeners. It does well if placed on a bright windowsill that receives filtered or reflected sunshine for at least 4 hours daily. Try to protect it from excessive wind that can dry the plant out.

Recently, I saw some specimens that are in flower on sale in a local nursery for the first time. The much branched flower spike was about 1 m tall and held numerous clusters of small white flowers. Botanically, this particular arrangement of flowers is called an umbel. Some of the flowers have even started to turn into fruits!

Native to East Asia to Japan, Angelica keiskei is known via its Japanese name ‘Ashitaba’. Locally in Singapore, people here call it ‘明日叶’ (ming ri ye) which translates into ”Tomorrow Leaf’, which refers to the ability to regenerate a new leaf soon after one has been harvested. Don’t expect it to put forth a new leaf as soon as the day after! It is not exactly a very fast grower, at least here in Singapore! If you are a fan of this plant, you probably have to have a dozen of pots to satisfy your needs!

The leaves are consumed like a vegetable either in the raw form or cooked by lightly blanching it. When cut, the aerial parts of this plant exude a yellow sap which is found to be an abundant source of furocoumarins and a range of polyphenols. These are believed to possess health-enhancing and anti-cancer properties. However, it is reported that the consumption of Angelica keiskei can lead to skin sensitivity to sunlight and may cause dermatitis in some individuals. Like many members of the Apiaceae family, Angelica keiskei also features a tap root underground that is short and thick. It is also edible and is served either in the cooked or pickled form.

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21 responses to “The ‘Tomorrow Leaf Plant’

  1. Hi Wilson,

    I am from the Philippines and I would like to know where I can buy the Tomorrow Leaf Plant?

    With Sincere regards,

    Henry

  2. My friend gave me as she would call it “tomorrow leaf” plant. She also propagated it from a single plant that she got from the bio research center.Why are the leaves different from what I see in the pictures?

  3. I am past late forties and very sickly. I have read this tomorrow leaf, and wish you could tell me where I can find it and grow it myself for my personal use only.

    I hope I can count on you. May God bless you and you family for helping others on this information.

    Thank you very much.

  4. I am quit keen to get a plant of torrow-leaf.
    Can you let me know from where to obtain it Malaysia or Singapore.

    Thanks !-

    • Major nurseries like World Farm in Singapore stocks large numbers of it. Hope this helps.

      • arleen zuluaga

        tnx. i told my friend from singapore about the ashitaba from ur shop in bio reasearch and she asked me to bring for her. it is good that they have it there too. however the one in this picture is different from the one i got. how is that? am taking the wrong one?

      • Would appreciate your advise on how I can buy or get
        one, same plant shown in the pictires here in your website, do you have suppliers here in the Philippines? I have a lot of the plant they call ashitaba here in the Phil. but it differs from the picture of your plant.

  5. the one i got from sucat does not look like the one in this picture. is it a variant of this specie. do they have the same effects?

  6. Unfortunately the so called Ashitaba in the Philippines is actually “Gynura Procumbens”. I hope we can find a source of seeds or plant here in the Philippines.

  7. Onemig Vera :Unfortunately the so called Ashitaba in the Philippines is actually “Gynura Procumbens”. I hope we can find a source of seeds or plant here in the Philippines.

    Just what I thought — a different plant. The seller from “sulit” said that they imported the Ashitaba seeds from Japan and so happened that it grew up differently, huh? The seller where I bought mine said others call it “thai spinach”. I’m confused!

    Now, where can we find the Authentic Ashitaba before we take the wrong one and end up in the hospital instead.

    Thanks!

  8. arleen zuluaga :the one i got from sucat does not look like the one in this picture. is it a variant of this specie. do they have the same effects?

    here’s what i got from Mr Wong’s site:
    http://gardeningwithwilson.com/2010/01/29/the-scrambling-gynura/

    • The gynura procumbens, which is abundant in the Philippines, is also medicinal. A few of my friends who are diabetic are eating the leaves raw and according to them, it really works. But has anyone found a source of the real tomorrow leaf or Ashitaba here in the Philippines? I have an officemate who has psoriasis desparately needs it.

  9. Can you please tell me how to cultivate this plant “Ashitaba”?

  10. hello, mr. wilson wong. I am from the philippines and i have read so much about ashitaba leaf and its medicinal purposes. I would like to know how i could get a seedling of this tomorrow leaf plant. Thank you very much.

  11. mhyr mamposte

    may i know of the medicinal properties & health benefits of tomorrow leaf

  12. I was just in the manila seedling plant where I was introduced to this “ashitaba” plant. The vendor informed me that doctors are buying this plant because of the many healing ability it has. I just want to find out why it looks different from the picture posted here. However I find similarity with other pictures posted on a different site. Does it have different kinds of plant. Most important is, do they have the same healing effect?.

  13. Dear MR. wong,

    Where can I find the real plant in the Phils.?
    I live in Paranaque.
    Thanks

  14. I also went to Manila Seedling in Quezon City along EDSA. The only have the Gynura plants in several shops. They dont have the Ashitaba at all, they only call the Gynura plants Ashitaba.
    I also went to the Bio-Research in Paranaque. I dont know why they also call the Gynura plants Ashitaba and they give them away as a Ashitaba plants. I dont know what to say. The gardener here in the Philippines dont know the difference between Gynura and Ashitaba. Its ridiculous.

    Hirang

  15. I have been saying for the longest time that gynura is different from ashitaba but nobody seems to listen….a month or so ago a batch of ashitaba seeds were on sale at the centris sunday market and many organic gardeners purchased the seeds.. It should be available soon.

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