Herb latin name: Schisandra sphenanthera

Family: Schisandraceae

Medicinal use of Schisandra sphenanthera:

The following report is for S. chinensis. This species is used for similar purposes in southern China. Wu Wei Zi is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. It is an excellent tonic and restorative, helping in stressful times and increasing zest for life. It is considered to be a substitute for ginseng and is said to be a tonic for both the male and the female sex organs. The fruit is antitussive, aphrodisiac, hepatic, astringent, cardiotonic, cholagogue, expectorant, hypotensive, lenitive, nervine, pectoral, sedative, stimulant and tonic. Low doses of the fruit are said to stimulate the central nervous system whilst large doses depress it. The fruit also regulates the cardiovascular system. It is taken internally in the treatment of dry coughs, asthma, night sweats, urinary disorders, involuntary ejaculation, chronic diarrhoea, palpitations, insomnia, poor memory, hyperacidity, hepatitis and diabetes. Externally, it is used to treat irritating and allergic skin conditions. The fruit is harvested after the first frosts and sun-dried for later use. The fruit contains lignans. These have a pronounced protective action on the liver. In one clinical trial there was a 76% success rate in treating patients with hepatitis, no side effects were noticed. The seed is used in the treatment of cancer. The plant is antirheumatic. A mucilaginous decoction obtained from the branches is useful in the treatment of coughs, dysentery and gonorrhoea.

Description of the plant:


7 m
(23 feet)

to May

Habitat of the herb:

Rich forests and woodland. Thickets, in wet places, slopes at elevations of 600 - 3000 metres.

Edible parts of Schisandra sphenanthera:

Fruit - raw or cooked. We have no specific information on this species, but the fruit is quite probably edible.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown in the autumn in a cold frame. Pre-soak stored seed for 12 hours in warm water and sow in a greenhouse in the spring. Germination can be slow and erratic. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for their first 2 years. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, August in a frame. Overwinter in the greenhouse and plant out in late spring. Good percentage. Layering of long shoots in the autumn.

Cultivation of Schisandra sphenanthera:

Rich forests and woodland. Thickets, in wet places, slopes at elevations of 600 - 3000 metres.

Known hazards of Schisandra sphenanthera:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.