Codonopsis, Codonopsis pilosula
DESCRIPTION AND CULTURE: This completely hardy in zone 4 herbaceous vine is petite and potent. It will need a trellis or upright plant to grow on. Living in the Campanulaceae or Bellflower family, the flowers are intriguing to behold. Look closely into the cream colored bells to discover violet dots on each petal. Take a whiff and you may detect the surprise scent of ash trays! Codonopsis likes rich soil and since the part used in the root, looser soils are better for root expansion and harvesting.
PART USED: root
FUNCTION: Codonopsis root works like a gentle ginseng. Some common names should just go away, like the degrading sounding “Poor Man’s Ginseng” associated with this plant. Maybe “Gentler Ginseng” would be more honorable and descriptive.