Herb: Zhi Mu


Latin name: Anemarrhena asphodeloides


Family: Asphodelaceae



Medicinal use of Zhi Mu:

The rhizome is anti-fungal, antiseptic, bitter, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic, laxative, lenitive, sedative and tonic. It has an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Bacillus dysenteriae, B. typhi, B. paratyphi, Proteus and Pseudomonas. It is taken internally in the treatment of high fevers in infectious diseases, TB, chronic bronchitis, diabetes and urinary problems. It should not be given to patients with diarrhoea and should be administered with caution since when taken in excess it can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. Externally, it is used as a mouthwash in the treatment of ulcers. The rhizome is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Perennial

Height:
50 cm
(1 foot)

Flovering:
August to
September

Habitat of the herb:

Mountain woodlands. Exposed slopes and hills. Scrub, grassy slopes, steppes, sunny and sandy hillsides from near sea level to 1500 metres.

Other uses of Zhi Mu:

The root contains about 6% saponins. Saponins make an excellent soap, having a gentle cleansing effect on the skin and clothes without removing the natural body oils from the skin. To extract the saponins it is usually sufficient to cut the root into thin slices and then gently simmer in water.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame, it usually germinates in the spring. Stored seed should be sown in late winter or early spring in a cold frame. It sometimes germinates within 1 - 3 months at 15C, but may take a year. The seed should be completely separated from the fruit and should only just be covered by soil. If the seed has been sown thinly enough, then it is possible to leave the seedlings in the pot for their first growing season, dividing them after they become dormant. Make sure to give them liquid feeds at intervals through the spring and summer. Otherwise prick out the seedlings when they are large enough to handle. Plant out in late spring or early summer at the beginning of their second or third years growth. Division in spring as new growth is just commencing.

Cultivation of Zhi Mu:

Mountain woodlands. Exposed slopes and hills. Scrub, grassy slopes, steppes, sunny and sandy hillsides from near sea level to 1500 metres.

Known hazards of Anemarrhena asphodeloides:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.