Astragalus complanatus Bunge
Astragalus pratensis Ulbrich
Common Name: Bei Bian Huang Qi
Phyllolobium chinense is a herbaceous, perennial plant growing 30 - 90cm tall[
The plant has a long history of use in Chinese herbal medicine, where it is usually harvested from the wild.
Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides[
]. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage[
]. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element[
E. Asia - China.
Dry slopes, meadows and gravelly soils at elevations of 1000-2400 metres in Gansu, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shanxi, W Sichuan, Yunnan[
Phyllolobium chinense has a wide range from northeast China to central China, where it grows in hardiness zones 4 - 8.
Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position[
Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best planted in their final positions whilst still small[
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[
]. Many members of this genus can be difficult to grow, this may be due partly to a lack of their specific bacterial associations in the soil[
This species has been used for almost 2,000 years in China as a liver and kidney tonic[
]. The seed is hepatic and ophthalmic. It is used in the treatment of kidney diseases, lumbago, spontaneous seminal emissions, frequent micturation, vertigo and decreased sight[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[
]. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate[
]. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing - but make sure that you do not cook the seed[
]. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours[
]. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 - 9 weeks or more at 13°c if the seed is treated or sown fresh[
]. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.