Herb: Chinese Hemlock
Latin name: Tsuga chinensis
Synonyms: Abies chinensis
Family: Pinaceae (Pine Family)
Medicinal use of Chinese Hemlock:The bark is astringent, diaphoretic and diuretic. A tea made from the inner bark or twigs is helpful in the treatment of kidney or bladder problems, and also makes a good enema for treating diarrhoea. It can also be used as a gargle or mouthwash for mouth and throat problems or externally to wash sores and ulcers. The powdered bark can be put into shoes for tender or sweaty feet or for foot odour.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Forests, especially on steep cliffs, 2300 - 3000 metres. Mountains, mixed forests, valleys and river basins at elevations of 1000 - 3500 metres.
Edible parts of Chinese Hemlock:Inner bark - raw or dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickening in soups etc or mixed with cereals when making bread. A herbal tea is made from the young shoot tips. These tips are also an ingredient of "spruce beer".
Other uses of the herb:Apart from the report about the use of the wood, all the other uses listed below are based on the uses that T. canadensis is put to and a note in that this species has similar uses. Yields a resin similar to Abies balsamea, it is gathered by incisions in the trunk or by boiling the wood. The bark contains 8 - 14% tannin. The inner bark is used according to one report. A brown dye is obtained from the bark. A pitch (called hemlock pitch), is obtained by distillation of the young branches. Tolerant of light trimming, plants can be grown as a hedge. This species does not make a good hedge in Britain. Wood - soft, durable. Used for shingles. The timber is used for construction, aircraft, furniture, and in mines.
Propagation of Chinese Hemlock:Seed - it germinates better if given a short cold stratification and so is best sown in a cold frame in autumn to late winter. It can also be sown in early spring, though it might not germinate until after the next winter. If there is sufficient seed, an outdoor sowing can be made in spring. Pot-grown seedlings are best potted up into individual pots once they are large enough to handle - grow them on in a cold frame and plant them out in early summer of the following year. Trees transplant well when they are up to 80cm tall, but they are best put in their final positions when they are about 30 - 45 cm or less tall, this is usually when they are about 5 - 8 years old. Larger trees will check badly and hardly put on any growth for several years. This also badly affects root development and wind resistance.
Cultivation of the herb:Forests, especially on steep cliffs, 2300 - 3000 metres. Mountains, mixed forests, valleys and river basins at elevations of 1000 - 3500 metres.
Known hazards of Tsuga chinensis:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.