Bupleurum is a distinctive genus that is easily recognized by the simple leaves and conspicuous bracts and bracteoles. Species within Bupleurum are, however, notoriously difficult to identify on account of wide morphological variation within a species, often spread across wide geographic distributions. Many Bupleurum species are difficult to characterize, as is evident by complex classifications where all possible taxonomic ranks have been used. Several taxa are recorded only from a few collections, and it is likely that future work will reduce the number of species[
Common Name: Chai Shou
Bupleurum chaishoui is a herbaceous, perennial plant producing a cluster of erect stems from a stout, woody taproot; the plant can grow 50 - 100cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for its root, which is the traditional chinese medicine 'chai shou'[
E. Asia - central China (northwest Sichuan)
Among shrubs, sunny slopes; at elevations from 2,100 - 2,700 metres[
According to the Flora of China[
] there are around 180 accepted species of Bupleurum (as of 2013) of which 42 species (22 of them endemic) are found in China. Most, if not all of these Chinese species are used medicinally, with two of them (Bupleurum chinense and Bupleurum scorzonerifolium being some of the most important and widely used herbs in Chinese Herbal medicine[
Other species in the genus also have medicinal potential. The roots of Bupleurum species in general contain a range of medicinally active compounds including saponins, sterols, lignans, flavonoids, coumarins, polysaccharides and essential oils[
Traditionally the root is used to regulate the metabolism, for the treatment of fever, pain and inflammation associated with influenza and the common cold. In addition, Bupleurum species are also used as analgesics in the treatment of distending pain in the hypochondriac region of the upper abdomen and against amenorrhoea. Many Bupleuri extracts have been used for improvement and protection against chronic hepatitis, nephrotic syndrome and autoimmune diseases[
Recorded below are the specific medicinal uses we have come across for this species. Many of the Bupleurum species not included in the database are likely to also have a range of potential applications[
The multi-branched and thickened rootstock is used as the traditional Chinese medicine 'chai shou'[
]. The crude drug looks like a large head, hence the name 'shou' (head)[
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 8 weeks at 15°c[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer or following spring.
Division in spring. Very easy, larger clumps can be planted direct into their permanent positions. It is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are well rooted before planting them out in the summer.