Herb: Shan Zhu Yu

Latin name: Cornus officinalis

Synonyms: Macrocarpium officinale

Family: Cornaceae (Dogwood Family)

Medicinal use of Shan Zhu Yu:

Shan Zhu Yu has been used for at least 2,000 years in Chinese herbal medicine. It is a herb that "stabilizes and binds" and is used principally to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding and unusually active secretions including copious sweating, excessive urine, spermatorrhoea and premature ejaculation. Like all herbs that suppress bodily fluids (even excessive ones), it will simply prolong or lead to a worsening of symptoms if it is used without tonic or detoxifying herbs. It is, therefore, normally used in combination with herbs such as Rehmannia glutinosa and is an ingredient of the "Pill of eight ingredients" which is used in China to "warm up and invigorate the yang of the loins". The fruit is antibacterial, antifungal, hypotensive, antitumor, astringent, diuretic, hepatic and tonic. The fruit, without the seed, is decocted for the treatment of arthritis, fever and a wide range of other ailments. It is used in the treatment of senile lumbago, diabetes, cystitis, tinnitus etc. The fruit has an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Bacillus dysenteriae and Staphylococcus. The fruit is harvested when fully ripe and is dried for later use. The stem bark is astringent, antimalarial and tonic. The plant is antibacterial, diuretic, hypotensive and a urinary antiseptic.

Description of the plant:


10 m
(33 feet)

to March

Habitat of the herb:

Woodland, 1200 - 1800 metres in W. China. Mountains, slopes, forest margins and forests a elevations of 400 - 1500, occasionally to 2100 metres.

Edible parts of Shan Zhu Yu:

Fruit - raw or cooked. The fully ripe fruit is quite pleasant but slightly astringent. It is about 1.5cm long. The fruit contains about 8.6% sugars, 2.9% malic acid, 0.74% ash.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame or in an outdoors seedbed if there is sufficient seed. The seed must be separated from the fruit flesh since this contains germination inhibitors. Stored seed should be cold stratified for 3 - 4 months and sown as early as possible in the year. Scarification may also help as may a period of warm stratification before the cold stratification. Germination, especially of stored seed, can be very slow, taking 18 months or more. Prick out the seedlings of cold-frame sown seeds into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow the plants on for their first winter in a greenhouse, planting out in the spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe side shoots, July/August in a frame. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, taken with a heel if possible, autumn in a cold frame. High percentage. Layering of new growth in June/July. Takes 9 months.

Cultivation of Shan Zhu Yu:

Woodland, 1200 - 1800 metres in W. China. Mountains, slopes, forest margins and forests a elevations of 400 - 1500, occasionally to 2100 metres.

Known hazards of Cornus officinalis:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.