Herb latin name: Polygonum perfoliatum
Synonyms: Persicaria perfoliata
Family: Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)
Medicinal use of Polygonum perfoliatum:The whole plant is depurative, diuretic and febrifuge. It is also used to stimulate blood circulation. A decoction is used in the treatment of dysentery, enteritis, boils and abscesses, poisonous snake bites, haematuria, cloudy urine and traumatic injuries. The juice of the leaves is used in the treatment of backaches.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Wet thickets and by rivers in lowland all over Japan. Moist, open, uncultivated land at elevations of 900 - 1400 metres in Nepal.
Edible parts of Polygonum perfoliatum:Tender young leaves and shoots - raw or cooked. Used as a vegetable. Seed - raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize. The ripe fruits (seeds) are eaten fresh, especially by children.
Propagation of the herb:Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually free and easy. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer if they have reached sufficient size. If not, overwinter them in a cold frame and plant them out the following spring after the last expected frosts.
Cultivation of Polygonum perfoliatum:Wet thickets and by rivers in lowland all over Japan. Moist, open, uncultivated land at elevations of 900 - 1400 metres in Nepal.
Known hazards of Polygonum perfoliatum:Although no specific mention has been made for this species, there have been reports that some members of this genus can cause photosensitivity in susceptible people. Many species also contain oxalic acid (the distinctive lemony flavour of sorrel) - whilst not toxic this substance can bind up other minerals making them unavailable to the body and leading to mineral deficiency. Having said that, a number of common foods such as sorrel and rhubarb contain oxalic acid and the leaves of most members of this genus are nutritious and beneficial to eat in moderate quantities. Cooking the leaves will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.