Gynostemma pentaphyllum, Jiaogulan seeds
Gynostemma pentaphyllum belongs to the family of the Curcurbitaceae, the curcurbit family. G. pentaphyllum is native to China, India, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. G. pentaphyllum is also known as Anti- aging plant and Jiaogulan. Jiaogulan grows as a perennial climbing plant that reaches a height of about 5 m. Sometimes the plant gets even higher. The Anti-aging plant needs something to entwind around. The leaves of the Jiaogulan are unpaired pinnate. The single leaflets are elliptic, simple with sometimes a serrate leaf edge. The leaflet at the end is a little bigger than the other ones. One pinnate leaf consists mostly of 5 leaflets. The leaves taste sweet and a little bit like licorice. The leaves can be eaten cooked like spinach or raw in a salad. In addition one can make a tea from the fresh or the dried leaves. It is said that the fresh leaves taste better. The flowers of the Jiaogulan are inconsiderable greenish, whitish or yellowish. They are clustered in inflorescences. The inflorescences hang down. G. pentaphyllum is diecious meaning that the female and male flowers are on different individuals. One needs always two plants for reproduction. The fruits are small, round and reach 8 mm in diameter. The green fruit gets deeply black when they are ripe. The effect of G. pentaphyllum was discovered by chance as people were searching for a new sweetening agent. In mountain villages one found an herb that the natives called the anti- aging plant. In those villages the people got indeed much older than in other regions nearby. Some of them reached ages around 100. An analysis of the ingredients was done and researches found out that the plant contains a lot of saponines. Those substances were already known from the ginseng. The anti- aging plant has just like the ginseng a calming effect. It helps stressed people and reduces sleeping disorder and high blood pressure. In addition it is able to lower the sugar level in the blood. In the traditionally Chinese medicine G. pentaphyllum is known for a long time. For our medicine the plant is new and much research is done all around it. The list of possibilities to use it in medicine is very long.
The seeds of the anti- aging plant should be put into warm water 24h before planting. After that they can be planted 0,5 cm deep into the substrate. At a temperature of about 20°C and constantly moist substrate germination occurs after 4 weeks. G. pentaphyllum is winter hardy down to minus 18°C. In winter all plant parts growing above the soil die. The plant regenerates in spring. As a room plant G. pentaphyllum is evergreen.
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