Herb: Sacred Bamboo

Latin name: Nandina domestica

Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)

Medicinal use of Sacred Bamboo:

The roots and stems are antitussive, astringent, febrifuge, stomachic and tonic. A decoction is used in the treatment of fever in influenza, acute bronchitis, whooping cough, indigestion, acute gastro-enteritis, tooth abscess, pain in the bones and muscles and traumatic injuries. It is especially useful in the treatment of children's coughs. There is a danger that an overdose can cause respiratory paralysis. A decoction of the leaves is tonic. The fruit is febrifuge and tonic. Another report says that it is toxic, so great care should be employed if using it. The root is antirheumatic. Young shoots contain high concentrations of laetrile - up to 20% on a zero moisture basis.

Description of the plant:


2.5 m
(8 1/4 foot)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Ravines and valleys in mountains and warmer parts of C. and S. Japan.

Edible parts of Sacred Bamboo:

Fruit. No further details are given, but another report says that the fruit is poisonous. The fruit is about 10mm in diameter. Young leaves - boiled. The water must be changed at least once during the cooking.

Other uses of the herb:

Plants are used for hedging in warm temperate zones.

Propagation of Sacred Bamboo:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Stored seed should be sown as early in the year as possible in a greenhouse. Germination is often poor. 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 long, July/August in a frame. Pot up in the autumn and overwinter in a cold frame. Plant out in late spring. High percentage but very slow. Cuttings of mature wood, 10 - 15cm with a heel, November in a frame. Plant out the following autumn. High percentage but very slow.

Cultivation of the herb:

Ravines and valleys in mountains and warmer parts of C. and S. Japan.

Known hazards of Nandina domestica:

The fruit is poisonous.All parts of the plant contain toxic substances, including hydrocyanic acid and nandenine.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.