The truth is, most sellers of ashitaba plants in the Philippines are not really selling Japanese ashitaba but a different plant called Gynura Procumbens. I bet that all plants sold in Sulit.com.ph with the name “ashitaba” are in fact Gynura Procumbens. Those “ashitaba” sold in Greenhills Shopping mall (the open air place in the middle) are also Gynura Procumbens.
Where Can You Buy the Real Ashitaba in the Philippines?
It has been said that there’s one found in Sucat/Rizal. Rumors had it that it belongs to a bioresearch site that gives out ashitaba leaves [samples] for free. But what they have is actually Gynura Procumbens. So you don’t have to waste your time and effort to know and commute to go to their area only to find out it’s not the one you’re truly searching for.
There are no big plantations of ashitaba pioneering in the Philippines as of now. Ashitaba in pots and their seeds are mostly passed on from friends, relatives or acquaintances who imported the plants from Singapore or Japan (the nearby Asian countries).
I bet that if there are known growers of ashitaba in the Philippines, they don’t intend to sell ashitaba plant just yet as well. This is so that they can more properly propagate tomorrow leaves in their own plantations. And this is why we still don’t see much of the real ashitaba from Japan widespread in the public marketplace.
Here are the most telling differences of ashitaba and Gynura Procumbens.
Appearance of the Leaves
The leaves of Gynura Procumbens appear to be darker green in color, in contrast to ashitaba leaves. Also, while the leaves of Gynura Procumbens are like the normal leaves of most plants (oval-shaped with no ridges), Japan ashitaba leaves are more defined with ridges.
Break the stem of each plant. Look for the yellow liquid that comes out.
This sap is called chalcones, the powerful agent Japan ashitaba has and
Gynura Procumbens does not. Chalcones can cure cysts, pustules and a
wide array of other ailments.
The real ashitaba not being widespread in the Philippines does not mean
that you should not know about them. The least you can do is not to be
deceived by the misconceptions.