Herb latin name: Coptis japonica

Synonyms: Coptis anemonaefolia, Coptis orientalis, Thalictrum japonicum

Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Medicinal use of Coptis japonica:

The root is a pungent, very bitter, cooling herb that controls bacterial and viral infections, relaxes spasms, lowers fevers and stimulates the circulation. It is locally analgesic and anaesthetic and is also anti-inflammatory and stomachic. It is used in the treatment of intestinal catarrh, dysentery, enteritis, high fevers, inflamed mouth and tongue, conjunctivitis etc. The root is harvested in the autumn and can be used fresh or dried.

Description of the plant:


22 cm
(8 3/4 inch)


Habitat of the herb:

Woods in mountains all over Japan.

Other uses of Coptis japonica:

Can be grown as a ground cover plant in the peat garden.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in an ericaceous compost. Seal the pot in a polythene bag until germination takes place, which is usually within 1 - 6 months at 10C. Stored seed should be sown as early in the year as possible. Four weeks cold stratification may be beneficial. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a shady part of the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out in mid-autumn or in spring. Division in spring.

Cultivation of Coptis japonica:

Woods in mountains all over Japan.

Known hazards of Coptis japonica:

Although no specific mention of toxicity has been found for this species, it belongs to a family that contains many species that are mildly toxic and so it is wise to treat this plant with some caution.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.