Herb: Chinese Foxglove

Latin name: Rehmannia glutinosa

Synonyms: Rehmannia chinensis

Family: Gesneriaceae

Medicinal use of Chinese Foxglove:

This plant, called Di Huang in China, is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is one of the most popular tonic herbs and is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. The root is the main part used and it can be prepared in four different ways - charcoaled, prepared (but no details of the preparation are given) when it is called Shu Di Huang and fresh or dried when it is called Sheng Di Huang. The roots are antibacterial, antiseptic, cardiac, diuretic, febrifuge, haemostatic, hypoglycaemic and tonic. They are used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments, including anaemia, cancer, bleeding, constipation, coughs, fever and premature ejaculation. The charcoaled root is used to stop bleeding and tonify the spleen and stomach. The fresh root is used to treat thirst, the rash of infectious diseases and bleeding due to pathological heat. The dried root is used to treat bleeding due to blood deficiency and to nourish the vital essence. The prepared root is used to treat dizziness and palpitations due to anaemia or blood deficiency, chronic tidal fever, night sweats, dry mouth, lumbago and nocturnal emissions. The roots of cultivated plants are harvested in the autumn or early winter, whilst wild plants are harvested in early spring. They can be used fresh or dried. The root is an ingredient of "Four Things Soup", the most widely used woman's tonic in China. The other species used are Angelica sinensis, Ligusticum wallichii and Paeonia lactiflora. The leaves are bruised and used in the treatment of scaly eczema or psoriasis.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

to June

Habitat of the herb:

Well-drained stony ground along roadsides and in woods. Mountain slopes and trailsides from near sea level to 1100 metres.

Edible parts of Chinese Foxglove:

Leaves. No further details are given. Root - cooked. Boiled nine times before it is eaten. This suggests that the root is somewhat toxic, or at least has a very bitter flavour. Having boiled it nine times (and presumably throwing the water away each time), there is going to be very little left in the way of vitamins and minerals.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow autumn or spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on for at least their first winter in a greenhouse. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. Root cuttings in winter. Division in spring. Basal cuttings in late spring or early summer. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. 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.

Cultivation of Chinese Foxglove:

Well-drained stony ground along roadsides and in woods. Mountain slopes and trailsides from near sea level to 1100 metres.

Known hazards of Rehmannia glutinosa:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.