Herb: Chishima Zasa

Latin name: Sasa kurilensis

Synonyms: Arundinaria kurilensis, Bambusa kurilensis, Pseudosasa kurilensis

Family: Gramineae (Grass Family)

Medicinal use of Chishima Zasa:

A potential cure for cancer has been discovered in the leaf.

Description of the plant:


4 m
(13 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Forms compact clumps in thickets on high mountain slopes, C. and N. Japan.

Edible parts of Chishima Zasa:

Young shoots - cooked. They are so popular in Japan that a license is required in order to collect them. Seed - used as a cereal. The seed is only produced at intervals of many years.

Other uses of the herb:

The plant has rampant roots and this can be utilized in soil stabilization schemes. The canes are used for making particle boards such as hardboard. The fibre dimensions mean that it is more suitable for thick paper and fibreboard than for thin papers. Yields in Japan are around 45 tonnes per hectare though the cost of gathering and bundling the canes makes economic use problematic. The canes are also used as plant supports etc.

Propagation of Chishima Zasa:

Seed - if possible, surface sow the seed as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse at about 20C. Stored seed is best sown as soon as it is received. Do not allow the compost to dry out. Germination usually takes place fairly quickly so long as the seed is of good quality, though it can take 3 - 6 months. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a lightly shaded place in the greenhouse until large enough to plant out, which could be a few years. Plants only flower at intervals of several years and so seed is rarely available. Division in late spring as new growth commences. Take large divisions, trying to cause as little root disturbance to the main clump as possible. Grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse in pots of a high fertility sandy medium. Mist the foliage regularly until plants are established. Plant them out into their permanent positions when a good root system has developed, which can take a year or more. Divisions of less than 5 - 6 culms rarely succeed.

Cultivation of the herb:

Forms compact clumps in thickets on high mountain slopes, C. and N. Japan.

Known hazards of Sasa kurilensis:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.