Herb: Lian Qiao

Latin name: Forsythia suspensa

Synonyms: Syringa suspensa

Family: Oleaceae (Olive Family)

Medicinal use of Lian Qiao:

Lian Qiao has been used in Chinese herbalism for over 4,000 years and is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. A bitter tasting pungent herb with an antiseptic effect, it is chiefly used to treat boils, carbuncles, mumps and infected neck glands. The fruit is a bitter astringent herb that stimulates the heart, nervous system and gall bladder. It contains vitamin P, which is used to strengthen capillaries. The fruit is also antidote, antiphlogistic, antitussive, diuretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, laxative and tonic. It is used internally in the treatment of acute infectious diseases such as mumps, and also for tonsillitis, urinary tract infections allergic rashes etc. The fruit is harvested when fully ripe and is dried for use in decoctions. The plant has a similar action to Lonicera japonica and is usually used in combination with that species to achieve a stronger action. The flowers have a broad-spectrum antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Shigella dysenteriae, haemolytic streptococcus, Pneumococcus, Bacillus typhi, Mycobacterium tuberculi etc. The plant is vermifuge, though the part used is not stated. The leaves are febrifuge and are also poulticed onto ulcerated glands and haemorrhoids. A decoction of the leaves and twigs is used in the treatment of breast cancer. The root is used in the treatment of cancer, colds, fever and jaundice.

Description of the plant:


5 m
(16 feet)

to April

Habitat of the herb:

Thickets, moors and cliffs, 300 - 1200 metres. Thickets or grassy areas on slopes, valleys and gullies at elevations of 300 - 2200 metres.

Edible parts of Lian Qiao:

Young leaves - cooked. Some caution is advised due to the presence of a glycoside. The leaves are rich in rutin.

Other uses of the herb:

The sub-species F. suspensa sieboldii is a lax grower that roots freely where the branches touch the ground. It makes a very good tall ground cover when planted about 2.5 metres apart each way.

Propagation of Lian Qiao:

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates within 2 months. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the 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. Cuttings of half-ripe wood 10 - 15cm taken at a node, July/August in a frame. Plant out in autumn or spring. A very high percentage, they root within 3 weeks. Cuttings of mature wood in a sheltered outdoor bed. Good percentage. Layering in spring or summer. Plants often self-layer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Thickets, moors and cliffs, 300 - 1200 metres. Thickets or grassy areas on slopes, valleys and gullies at elevations of 300 - 2200 metres.

Known hazards of Forsythia suspensa:

Leaves contain the glycoside Phillyrin, its potency is unknown.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.