Herb: Fringed Pink

Latin name: Dianthus superbus

Synonyms: Dianthus wimmeri

Family: Caryophyllaceae (Pink Family, Starwort Family)

Medicinal use of Fringed Pink:

The fringed pink, called Qu Mai in Chinese herbalism, has been used in Chinese herbal medicine for over 2,000 years. The whole plant is a bitter tonic herb that stimulates the digestive and urinary system, and also the bowels. It also lowers blood pressure, reduces fevers and controls bacterial infections. Little used on its own, it is often taken with Dan Shen (Salvia multiorrhiza) to induce menstruation. The closely related D. chinensis has the same uses as Qu Mai and is more commonly used. The plant is abortifacient, contraceptive, diuretic, emmenagogue, ophthalmic, tonic and vulnerary. It is said to promote hair growth. It is ranked 9th in a list of 250 potential antifertility Chinese plants. The plant is taken internally in the treatment of acute urinary tract infections (especially cystitis), urinary stones, constipation and failure to menstruate. Externally, it is applied to skin inflammations and swellings. The leaves are used in the treatment of haemorrhoids, lumbricoid worms, venereal sores etc. The flowers are astringent, diuretic, haemostatic, resolvent and vulnerary. Research has shown that the flowers are the most markedly diuretic part of the plant.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

June to


Habitat of the herb:

Woody hills and dry meadows.

Edible parts of Fringed Pink:

The leaves, stems and tops are boiled, steeped in water and eaten as a potherb. Young plants are also eaten. One report says that they contain saponins but that the leaves are apparently not toxic. Probably this is because the content of saponins is too low to be harmful. Children suck the flowers for their sweet edible nectar.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow April/June in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 3 weeks at 20C. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the autumn.

Cultivation of Fringed Pink:

Woody hills and dry meadows.

Known hazards of Dianthus superbus:

The plant contains saponins but apparently in quantities too low to cause harm. Although fairly toxic, saponins are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without harm. Saponins are found in many foods, such as beans. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.