Herb: Ban Xia

Latin name: Pinellia ternata

Synonyms: Arum ternatum, Pinellia tubifera

Family: Araceae (Arum Family)

Medicinal use of Ban Xia:

The root of ban xia is antiemetic, antiphlogistic, expectorant, febrifuge, sialagogue and styptic. It also 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:

Cultivated fields and roadsides all over Japan. Shady and damp grass thickets on mountain sides and stream edges.

Edible parts of Ban Xia:

Root. The tuber is about 12mm in diameter. No more details of edibility are given in these reports but caution is advised since the fresh root is toxic. The toxins can be destroyed by thoroughly drying, or very well cooking the root.

Propagation of the herb:

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 of offsets as new growth begins in spring. Bulbils from the leaf axils can be potted up in late summer and be planted out in late spring.

Cultivation of Ban Xia:

Cultivated fields and roadsides all over Japan. Shady and damp grass thickets on mountain sides and stream edges.

Known hazards of Pinellia ternata:

The plant is toxic. This report probably refers to the presence of 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.