Plant of the Month for January 2020

Codonopsis clematidea

Description and General Information:

Codonopsis clematidea produces a carrot-like taproot.  Rather weak stems arise up to 100 cm although 40-60 cm is more usual.  In full sun and cooler climates, the stems are able to support themselves otherwise grow it where neighbours can provide some gentle support.  The leaves are grey-green with a mat-like finish.  If bruised, they emit a distinct skunk-like odour.  If cut, they exude a milky sap. The bell-like flowers are in loose terminal clusters.  Each flower is 2-2.5 cm long, pale blue with intricate internal markings. It is worth peering inside the flowers to appreciate the kaleiodoscope-like markings.  It is native to mountain forests, ravines and streamsides at 1700-2500 m. Its distribution includes western China, NW India, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Tajikistan.


This plant requires cool site with deep, rich soil that is well-drained.  It prefers soil pH that is on the acidic side.  In cooler regions, full sun is ideal but in warmer summer regions, part-shade is preferred. It is hardy from zones 4-8.

Bloom Period:

June or July.


By seed


Seeds may be sown at 20 C and germination will commence in 4-8 weeks.  Seeds also respond favourably to a stratification period of 8 weeks.  Plants may self-seed in the garden.




This species is tap-rooted so division is rarely undertaken.

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