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Common Name: Prince's Feather
Polygonum orientale is an annual plant that can grow up to 1.50 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
Although no specific mention has been made for this species, there have been reports that some members of this genus can cause photosensitivity in susceptible people.
Many species also contain oxalic acid (the distinctive lemony flavour of sorrel) - whilst not toxic this substance can bind up other minerals making them unavailable to the body and leading to mineral deficiency. Having said that, a number of common foods such as sorrel and rhubarb contain oxalic acid and the leaves of most members of this genus are nutritious and beneficial to eat in moderate quantities. Cooking the leaves will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[
E. Asia - China to the Himalayas.
Roadsides, near houses and wastelands, also commonly cultivated in gardens, from sea level to 3000 metres[
Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil[
] but prefers a moisture retentive not too fertile soil in sun or part shade[
]. Repays generous treatment[
Plants are not very hardy in Britain but can be grown as a half-hardy annual[
Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[
Young shoots - cooked. The young shoots are a standard vegetable in Indo-China[
Seed - cooked[
]. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize.
The plant is a good tonic and vulnerary[
The flowers are said to thin the blood, remove obstructions and ease pain[
The leafy stems are used in the treatment of hernias[
A decoction of the ripe fruits is used in the treatment of hepatitis, sloughing ulcers, tympanites and cancer[
The seed is said to relieve flatulence, fevers and thirst, brighten the eyes and benefit the breath[
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually free and easy. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer if they have reached sufficient size. If not, overwinter them in a cold frame and plant them out the following spring after the last expected frosts.