Herb: China Root


Latin name: Smilax china


Family: Smilacaceae (Greenbrier Family)



Medicinal use of China Root:

The root is alterative, antiscrophulatic, carminative, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and tonic. It is considered useful when taken internally in the treatment of old syphilitic cases and is also used for certain skin diseases, including psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, enteritis, urinary tract infections, skin ulcers etc. Large doses can cause nausea and vomiting, which is valuable in weakened and depraved conditions due to a poisoned state of the blood. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Climber

Height:
4.5 m
(15 feet)

Flovering:
May

Habitat of the herb:

Shrub thickets in hills and mountains. Forests, thickets, hillsides, grassy slopes, shaded places along valleys or streams from near sea level to 2000 metres.

Edible parts of China Root:

Root - cooked. Rich in starch, the large and fleshy roots can be dried and ground into a powder. The root is harvested by severing larger roots near the crown and leaving the smaller roots to grow on. Young shoots and leaves - raw or cooked. Used as a potherb. The leaves are said to contain rutin, but no details of quantity were given. Fruit - raw. Eaten to quench the thirst. The fruit is about 9mm in diameter. A tea is made from the leaves.

Other uses of the herb:

A yellow dye is made from the root and leaves when alum is used as a mordant. With iron sulphate, the colour is brown.

Propagation of China Root:

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 the herb:

Shrub thickets in hills and mountains. Forests, thickets, hillsides, grassy slopes, shaded places along valleys or streams from near sea level to 2000 metres.

Known hazards of Smilax china:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.