Herb: False China Root

Latin name: Smilax pseudo-china

Synonyms: Smilax tamnifolia

Family: Smilacaceae (Greenbrier Family)

Medicinal use of False China Root:

The root is astringent and slightly tonic. It is specific in the treatment of syphilis. The parched and powdered leaves have been used as a dressing on burns and scalds. The wilted leaves have been used as a poultice on boils.

Description of the plant:


2 m
(6 1/2 foot)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Sphagnum swales, bogs, borders of low woods and damp sands. Dry or sandy thickets.

Edible parts of False China Root:

Root - raw or cooked. Rich in starch, it can be dried and ground into a powder or made into jelly, fritters etc. Very tender, it is nice raw. Young shoots - cooked. Used as an asparagus substitute.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow March in a warm greenhouse. This note probably refers to the tropical members of the genus, seeds of plants from cooler areas seem to require a period of cold stratification, some species taking 2 or more years to germinate. We sow the seed of temperate species in a cold frame as soon as we receive it, and would sow the seed as soon as it is ripe if we could obtain it then. When the seedlings eventually germinate, prick them out into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first year, though we normally grow them on in pots for 2 years. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Division in early spring as new growth begins. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer. Cuttings of half-ripe shoots, July in a frame.

Cultivation of False China Root:

Sphagnum swales, bogs, borders of low woods and damp sands. Dry or sandy thickets.

Known hazards of Smilax pseudo-china:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.