Herb: Qin Jiao


Latin name: Gentiana macrophylla


Family: Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)



Medicinal use of Qin Jiao:

Qin Jiao has been used in Chinese herbalism for over 2,000 years and, like other members of this genus, the roots contain some of the most bitter compounds known and make an excellent tonic for the whole digestive system, working especially on the stomach, liver and gall bladder. The root is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antirheumatic, diuretic, febrifuge, hypoglycaemic and hypotensive. The root is used internally in the treatment of digestive problems, arthritis, allergic inflammations, low-grade fever in chronic diseases, jaundice and hepatitis. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
60 cm
(2 feet)

Flovering:
August to
September

Habitat of the herb:

Steppes and glades in light woods. Stream and river banks, roadsides, grassland slopes, wet meadows, forest margins, forests at elevations of 400 - 2400 metres.

Edible parts of Qin Jiao:

Leaves - cooked. An emergency food, used when all else fails.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. It can also be sown in late winter or early spring but the seed germinates best if given a period of cold stratification and quickly loses viability when stored, with older seed germinating slowly and erratically. It is advantageous to keep the seed at about 10C for a few days after sowing, to enable the seed to imbibe moisture. Following this with a period of at least 5 - 6 weeks with temperatures falling to between 0 and -5C will usually produce reasonable germination. It is best to use clay pots, since plastic ones do not drain so freely and the moister conditions encourage the growth of moss, which will prevent germination of the seed. The seed should be surface-sown, or only covered with a very light dressing of compost. The seed requires dark for germination, so the pots should be covered with something like newspaper or be kept in the dark. Pot up the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. The seedlings grow on very slowly, taking 2 - 7 years to reach flowering size. When the plants are of sufficient size, place them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Division in March. Most members of this genus have either a single tap-root, or a compact root system united in a single root head, and are thus unsuitable for division. Cuttings of basal shoots in late spring.

Cultivation of Qin Jiao:

Steppes and glades in light woods. Stream and river banks, roadsides, grassland slopes, wet meadows, forest margins, forests at elevations of 400 - 2400 metres.

Known hazards of Gentiana macrophylla:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.