Herb: Hu Zhang

Latin name: Pinellia pedatisecta

Family: Araceae (Arum Family)

Medicinal use of Hu Zhang:

The poisonous tubers are used as a medicine for the treatment of enlargement of the lymph node and urinary tract infections. The following notes for P. ternata almost certainly also apply to this species. The root is antiemetic, antiphlogistic, expectorant, febrifuge, sialagogue, styptic. Strengthens the spleen. Modern research has shown that this remedy is very effective in controlling nausea and vomiting. It is also an ingredient of a Chinese prescription for removing gallstones without surgery, a process that usually causes severe nausea. The root is also used internally in the treatment of coughs with thin watery phlegm and gastritis. The fresh root is extremely acrid and contains toxins, these are neutralized upon drying or by soaking in tea or vinegar. The root is harvested in the summer and dried for later use, it should not be used fresh. Extracts of the plant have been shown to have analgesic, antiemetic, anticancer and sedative activity.

Description of the plant:


20 cm
(7 3/4 inch)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Forests, in valleys or shady places below elevations of 1000 metres.

Propagation of Hu Zhang:

Seed - we have no information but suggest sowing the seed in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe if this is possible otherwise in early spring. 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. Division as new growth begins in spring. Bulbils from the leaf axils.

Cultivation of the herb:

Forests, in valleys or shady places below elevations of 1000 metres.

Known hazards of Pinellia pedatisecta:

Although we have no record of toxicity for this species, all parts of the plant probably contain calcium oxylate. This is toxic and if consumed makes the mouth and digestive tract feel as though hundreds of needles are being stuck into it. However, calcium oxylate is easily destroyed by thoroughly cooking or drying the plant.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.