Herb: Bachelor's Button


Latin name: Kerria japonica


Family: Rosaceae (Rose Family)



Medicinal use of Bachelor's Button:

A decoction of the flowering shoots is used in the treatment of coughs and women's complaints.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Shrub

Height:
2 m
(6 1/2 foot)

Flovering:
April
to May

Habitat of the herb:

By rivers and on rocks in gorges in the mountains. Thickets on mountain slopes at elevations of 200 - 3000 metres.

Edible parts of Bachelor's Button:

Young leaves - cooked. The leaves contain a small amount (0.002%) of hydrogen cyanide and are also a rich source of vitamin C (200mg per 100g). Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Fruit. No more details are given, but this report is somewhat suspect, the plant does not produce a fleshy fruit and the seed case certainly does not look edible. The fruit is a dry, somewhat plump achene about 5mm in diameter.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - we have no details on this species but suggest sowing the seed as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Sow stored seed as soon as possible in a cold frame, it is likely to require a period of cold stratification. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the cold frame for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division of suckers, removed with care from established plants during the dormant season. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring. Cuttings of young shoots. Young basal shoots in early summer work quite well. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 - 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer. Layering.

Cultivation of Bachelor's Button:

By rivers and on rocks in gorges in the mountains. Thickets on mountain slopes at elevations of 200 - 3000 metres.

Known hazards of Kerria japonica:

The leaves contain small quantities of hydrogen cyanide (prussic acid). In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.