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Common Name: Yuan Zhi
Polygala tenuifolia is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.25 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
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.
E. Asia - China, Korea, Mongolia, Manchuria.
Hillsides, roadsides and meadows[
]. Dry meadows and stony slopes[
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[
]. Dislikes shade according to another report.
Plants are hardy to at least -15°c[
Young leaves - cooked[
Root - cooked[
]. The core is removed and the root is boiled in several changes of water[
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[
The root is antibacterial, cardiotonic, cerebrotonic, expectorant, haemolytic, hypotensive, sedative and tonic[
]. It acts mainly as a tonic for the heart and kidney energies[
]. It is taken internally in the treatment of coughs with profuse phlegm, bronchitis, insomnia, palpitations, poor memory, anxiety, depression and nervous tension[
]. Externally it is used to treat boils and carbuncles[
]. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[
The leaves are used as a tonic for the kidneys[
Seed - sow spring or autumn in a cold frame[
]. 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.
Cuttings of young shoots in a frame in late spring[