Herb: Siberian Pea Tree

Latin name: Caragana arborescens

Family: Leguminosae

Medicinal use of Siberian Pea Tree:

The whole plant, known as ning tiao, is used in the treatment of cancer of the breast, and the orifice to the womb, and for dysmenorrhoea and other gynaecological problems.

Description of the plant:


6 m
(20 feet)


Habitat of the herb:

River banks, pebbles, sands, open forests and forest edges, gully slopes and stony slopes.

Edible parts of Siberian Pea Tree:

Seed - cooked. Small but produced in abundance, there are 4 - 6 seeds per pod. A bland flavour, it is best used in spicy dishes. The raw seed has a mild pea-like flavour, though we are not sure if it should be eaten in quantity when raw. The seed contains 12.4% of a fatty oil and up to 36% protein, it has been recommended as an emergency food for humans. More than just an emergency food, this species has the potential to become a staple crop in areas with continental climates. Young pods - cooked and used as a vegetable.

Other uses of the herb:

A fibre obtained from the bark is used for making cordage. A blue dye is obtained from the leaves. The seed contains 12.4% of a fatty oil. The plant can be grown as a hedge. It is quite wind-resistant and can also be planted in a shelterbelt. The plant has an extensive root system and can be used for erosion control, especially on marginal land. Because of its nitrogen-fixing capacity, it is valued as a soil-improving plant.

Propagation of Siberian Pea Tree:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. It usually germinates in 2 weeks. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water then sown in a cold frame. If the seed has not swollen then scarify it and re-soak for another 12 hours before sowing. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 3 weeks at 20C. Good percentage. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. There are approximately 40,000 seeds per kilo. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 7 - 10cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Layering in spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

River banks, pebbles, sands, open forests and forest edges, gully slopes and stony slopes.

Known hazards of Caragana arborescens:

Reports that this plant contains toxins have not been substantiated. The occurrence of cystine in the seeds is doubtful.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.