Herb: Rakkyo

Latin name: Allium chinense

Synonyms: Allium bakeri, Allium splendens

Family: Alliaceae (Onion Family)

Medicinal use of Rakkyo:

The whole plant is astringent, carminative and expectorant. It is used in the treatment of stuffiness sensation and pain in the chest, angina pectoris, pleurisy, bronchitis, diarrhoea and tenesmus in cases of dysentery. Although no other specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

August to

Habitat of the herb:

Often cultivated, plants can be found wild on the edges of fields.

Edible parts of Rakkyo:

Bulb - raw or cooked. The bulb has an excellent crisp texture with a strong onion flavour, it can be 4 - 5cm in diameter, though it does not reach this size until the second or third year. It contains about 3.1% protein, 0.12% fat, 18.3% soluble carbohydrate, 0.7% ash. Leaves - raw or cooked. Flowers and young seedpods - raw. Used as a garnish on salads.

Other uses of the herb:

The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent. The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles.

Propagation of Rakkyo:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle - if you want to produce clumps more quickly then put three plants in each pot. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in spring once they are growing vigorously and are large enough. Division in spring. Very easy, the plants divide successfully at any time in the growing season and the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required.

Cultivation of the herb:

Often cultivated, plants can be found wild on the edges of fields.

Known hazards of Allium chinense:

Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.