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Smilax china - L.                
                 
Common Name China Root
Family Smilacaceae
Synonyms
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Shrub thickets[147] in hills and mountains[58]. Forests, thickets, hillsides, grassy slopes, shaded places along valleys or streams from near sea level to 2000 metres[266].
Range E. Asia - China, Japan.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of climber
Smilax china is a deciduous Climber growing to 4.5 m (14ft 9in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.


USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


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

Smilax china China Root


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Cory
Smilax china China Root
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Cory
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Fruit;  Leaves;  Root.
Edible Uses: Rutin;  Tea.

Root - cooked[4, 105, 177]. Rich in starch[2], the large and fleshy roots can be dried and ground into a powder[11]. The root is harvested by severing larger roots near the crown and leaving the smaller roots to grow on[238]. Young shoots and leaves - raw or cooked[105, 159, 177, 179]. Used as a potherb[183]. The leaves are said to contain rutin, but no details of quantity were given[218]. Fruit - raw. Eaten to quench the thirst[105, 177, 183]. The fruit is about 9mm in diameter[200]. A tea is made from the leaves[177, 179, 183].
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.

Alterative;  Antipsoriatic;  Antiscrophulatic;  Carminative;  Depurative;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Skin;  Tonic;  VD.

The root is alterative, antiscrophulatic, carminative, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and tonic[1, 4, 11, 147, 174, 178, 218]. It is considered useful when taken internally in the treatment of old syphilitic cases and is also used for certain skin diseases, including psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, enteritis, urinary tract infections, skin ulcers etc[4, 238]. Large doses can cause nausea and vomiting, which is valuable in weakened and depraved conditions due to a poisoned state of the blood[4]. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.
Other Uses
Dye.

A yellow dye is made from the root and leaves when alum is used as a mordant[4, 178]. With iron sulphate, the colour is brown[4].
Cultivation details                                         
Succeeds in most well-drained soils in sun or semi-shade[200]. Hardy to about -15°c[200]. A climbing plant, supporting itself by means of tendrils and thorns as it scrambles through small trees and shrubs. A young plant is growing and thriving close to a west-facing wall at Kew Botanical gardens[K]. This species is not the true 'China root' of medicine, see the record for S. pseudo-china[178]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - sow March in a warm greenhouse[1]. This note probably refers to the tropical members of the genus, seeds of plants from cooler areas seem to require a period of cold stratification, some species taking 2 or more years to germinate[K]. We sow the seed of temperate species in a cold frame as soon as we receive it, and would sow the seed as soon as it is ripe if we could obtain it then[K]. When the seedlings eventually germinate, prick them out into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first year, though we normally grow them on in pots for 2 years. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Division in early spring as new growth begins[238]. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer. Cuttings of half-ripe shoots, July in a frame[238].
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
11200266
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[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]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[58]Ohwi. G. Flora of Japan. (English translation)
The standard work. Brilliant, but not for the casual reader.
[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.
[147]? A Barefoot Doctors Manual.
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.
[159]McPherson. A. and S. Wild Food Plants of Indiana.
A nice pocket guide to this region of America.
[174]Kariyone. T. Atlas of Medicinal Plants.
A good Japanese herbal.
[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.
[178]Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica.
A translation of an ancient Chinese herbal. Fascinating.
[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.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[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.
[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.
[266] Flora of China
On-line version of the Flora - an excellent resource giving basic info on habitat and some uses.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
maria bodner Sat Apr 19 13:31:19 2003
I would be interested in some tubers or seed of Smilax china (I could not find some in Germany)and of Apios americana. Please tell me if it´s available and how I can pay (sent Euros in a letter?) I find your database very useful and I am searching and learning quite a lot (I´m working on a farm (organic) and we just start looking for more perennial plants)

My Adress: Maria Bodner Neubergstr. 24 D-97450 Arnstein E-Mail:maria.bodner@bnmsp.de

Elizabeth H.
Ken Fern, Plants for a Future Fri Dec 28 2007
Although related to the medicinal sarsaparilla, this is a different species that has some similar uses. The true sarsaparilla is usually obtained from a number of Central American species, particularly Smilax regelii which grows in Honduras.
Elizabeth H.
joseph stave Thu Dec 27 2007
Is po-hsi ( smilax china) the same as sarsaparilla root? joestave@yahoo.com
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