Herb: Chinese Milk Vetch

Latin name: Astragalus sinicus

Family: Leguminosae

Medicinal use of Chinese Milk Vetch:

The plant is used in the treatment of blennorrhoea and also as an unguent for burns.

Description of the plant:


22 cm
(8 3/4 inch)

Habitat of the herb:

Naturalized in Japan where it grows around paddy fields.

Edible parts of Chinese Milk Vetch:

Young leaves - cooked. Seed. No more details on its use. The seed contains 36.6% protein and 5.3% fat.

Other uses of the herb:

This species is grown as a green manure crop in Japan.

Propagation of Chinese Milk Vetch:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing - but make sure that you do not cook the seed. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 - 9 weeks or more at 13C if the seed is treated or sown fresh. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Cultivation of the herb:

Naturalized in Japan where it grows around paddy fields.

Known hazards of Astragalus sinicus:

Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.