Herb: Tian Nan Xing

Latin name: Arisaema consanguineum

Family: Araceae (Arum Family)

Medicinal use of Tian Nan Xing:

Tian Nan Xing has been used in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years and is valued especially for its beneficial affect upon the chest. When prescribed internally it is always used dried and in conjunction with fresh ginger root. The root is an acrid irritant herb that is anodyne, antibacterial, antifungal, antiphlogistic, antirheumatic, anticancer, antispasmodic, antitumor, expectorant, sedative and stomachic. The dried root is used internally in the treatment of coughs with profuse phlegm, tumours, cervical cancer, epilepsy, tetanus and complaints involving muscular spasms. The fresh root is applied externally as a poultice to ulcers and other skin complaints. The root is harvested when the plant is dormant in the autumn or winter and is dried for later use. The whole plant is anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and anodyne.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Damp shady pine and mixed forests, shrubberies and grassy slopes at elevations of 1800 - 3300 metres in the Himalayas.

Edible parts of Tian Nan Xing:

Leaves - boiled and used as a vegetable. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a shady position in a cold frame. Stored seed remains viable for at least a year and can be sown in spring in the greenhouse but it will probably require a period of cold stratification. Germination usually takes place in 1 - 6 months at 15C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least a coupe of years until the corms are more than 20mm in diameter. Plant out into their permanent positions whilst they are dormant. Division of tubers when the plant dies down in late summer.

Cultivation of Tian Nan Xing:

Damp shady pine and mixed forests, shrubberies and grassy slopes at elevations of 1800 - 3300 metres in the Himalayas.

Known hazards of Arisaema consanguineum:

The plant contains calcium oxylate crystals. These cause an extremely unpleasant sensation similar to needles being stuck into the mouth and tongue if they are eaten but they are easily neutralized by thoroughly drying or cooking the plant or by steeping it in water.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.