Herb: Chuan Dang

Latin name: Codonopsis tangshen

Family: Campanulaceae (Bellflower Family)

Medicinal use of Chuan Dang:

This species is an important herb in Chinese medicine, the root is widely used as a substitute for ginseng. It is a sweet, warm, soothing herb that is taken as an energy tonic. It acts mainly on the spleen, lungs and stomach, raising secretion of body fluids and blood sugar levels, lowering the blood pressure and stimulating the immune system. The root and the whole plant are adaptogen, aphrodisiac and tonic. It is taken internally in the treatment of low energy, poor appetite and digestion, anaemia, shallow breathing and debility after illness. It is often cooked with rice until it is glutinous as a tonic food. The roots of plants at least three years old are harvested in the autumn and can be used fresh or dried.

Description of the plant:

Perennial Climber

3 m
(9 3/4 foot)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Alpine brush and rocky slopes. Upland fields.

Propagation of Chuan Dang:

Seed - surface sow in spring to early summer in an ericaceous compost in a greenhouse. Do not allow the compost to dry out. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 6 weeks at 20C. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer and protect them from slugs until the plants are well established. Division in spring, with care, since the plant resents root disturbance. We have found it best to take small divisions that are teased out from the sides of the main clump so as to cause the least possible disturbance to the plants and to avoid having to dig up the clump. These small divisions need to be potted up and placed in light shade in a greenhouse until they are rooting well. They can be planted out into their permanent positions in the summer if they are large enough, otherwise in the following spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Alpine brush and rocky slopes. Upland fields.

Known hazards of Codonopsis tangshen:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.