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Polygala tenuifolia - Willd.                
                 
Common Name Yuan Zhi
Family Polygalaceae
Synonyms
Known Hazards Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, at least one member of this genus is said to be poisonous in large quantities.
Habitats Hillsides, roadsides and meadows[147]. Dry meadows and stony slopes[238].
Range E. Asia - Korea, Mongolia, Manchuria.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Polygala tenuifolia is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

USDA hardiness zone : 5-9


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Polygala tenuifolia Yuan Zhi


www.flickr.com/photos/jennyhsu47
Polygala tenuifolia Yuan Zhi
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses:

Young leaves - cooked[105, 177, 179]. Root - cooked[105, 177]. The core is removed and the root is boiled in several changes of water[179].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Cardiotonic;  Expectorant;  Haemolytic;  Kidney;  Sedative;  Tonic.

Yuan Zhi contains triterpenoid saponins, these promote the clearing of phlegm from the bronchial tubes. The plant is used mainly as an expectorant and stimulant to treat bronchial asthma, chronic bronchitis and whooping cough[254]. The root is antibacterial, cardiotonic, cerebrotonic, expectorant, haemolytic, hypotensive, sedative and tonic[116, 147, 176, 218]. It acts mainly as a tonic for the heart and kidney energies[238]. It is taken internally in the treatment of coughs with profuse phlegm, bronchitis, insomnia, palpitations, poor memory, anxiety, depression and nervous tension[238]. Externally it is used to treat boils and carbuncles[147, 238]. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[238]. The leaves are used as a tonic for the kidneys[218].
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details                                         
Prefers a moderately fertile moisture-retentive well-drained soil, succeeding in full sun if the soil remains moist throughout the growing season, otherwise it is best in semi-shade[200, 238]. Dislikes shade according to another report. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c[238].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame[214]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division. Cuttings of young shoots in a frame in late spring[1].
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
Willd.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[116]Brooklyn Botanic Garden Oriental Herbs and Vegetables, Vol 39 No. 2.
A small booklet packed with information.
[147]? A Barefoot Doctors Manual.
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.
[176]Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas.
An excellent Chinese herbal giving information on over 500 species. Rather technical and probably best suited to the more accomplished user of herbs.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[179]Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao.
A translation of an ancient Chinese book on edible wild foods. Fascinating.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[214]Matthews. V. The New Plantsman. Volume 1, 1994.
A quarterly magazine, it has articles on Himalayacalamus hookerianus, hardy Euphorbias and an excellent article on Hippophae spp.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Fri Jul 22 11:58:23 2005

Link: Lao Dan

Elizabeth H.
Roger Thomas Wed Jul 27 09:11:32 2005
During my psychology studies I recently read neuroscience articles providing evidence that extracts from this herb stimulate the brains astrocyte cells to release nerve growth factor, NGF, a chemical that stimulates synapse growth. One clinical study had shown improvements in the symptoms of Parkinson's sufferers. They believe that this herb may be beneficial in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
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