Hedysarum altaicum Fisch. ex DC.
Hedysarum polymorphum Ledeb.
Hedysarum gmelinii is a herbaceous perennial plant producing a cluster of erect to ascending or decumbent stems 15 - 60cm tall[
The plant is a potential source of the pharmaceutical drug 'alpizarin', an antiviral agent used in the treatment of herpes and other conditions[
Asia - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Eastern Siberia, Mongolia, northern China
Meadows and stony steppe[
]. Gravelly areas in steppes; at elevations from 800 - 1,800 metres[
Hedysarum species generally grow best in a sunny position, though many can tolerate some shade. They are often found in somewhat alkaline soils in the wild, but are usually easy to grow in ordinary garden soils, preferring a deep well-drained sandy loam[
Species in this genus generally strongly resent root disturbance and should be placed in their permanent positions as soon as possible[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
The areial parts of this plant have the potentail to be used in the pharmaceutical industry as a source of the compound 'alpizarin', an antiviral, immunomodulatory, bacteriostatic and antibacterial agent. Alpizarin has also shown prominent cardiostimulant, capillary-strengthening, anti-inflammatory properties and enhances reparative processes in the gastric mucosa. It is used in tablet form and as an ointment to treat primary and secondary infection of the mucous membranes and skin by the herpes virus; shingles; warts etc[
Seed - sow in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe or in the spring[
]. Stored seed benefits from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination[
]. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.
Division in spring. Great care is needed since the plant dislikes root disturbance[