Codonopsis pilosula, "poor man's ginseng" seeds
Codonopsis pilosula seeds
Codonopsis pilosula belongs to the family of the Campanulaceae, the bellflower family.
C. pilosula is native to Mongolia and China where it is used in Chinese medicine. In China it is also known as Dang Shen or due to it's medicinal value it is also called "poor man's ginseng"
C. pilosula is a perennial climbing plant that reaches a height of up to 3, 5 m. The leaves are lanceolate and wide or heart shaped. They stand oppositely at the shoot and can get 7 cm long. The leaves are pubescent.
The flowers stand solitary in the leaf axilla. They are hermaphrodites, whitish to whitish- bluish. They are just like typical Campanulaceae flowers; bells shaped and have 5 petals.
C. pilosula produces various small seeds.
The roots are cylindrical and can reach a diameter of about 1 m or more. Because of that they have to be planted in large containers. They are sweet and can be chewed raw. The roots include saponines and steroids and resemble in the Ginseng in its medical effect, but it is better compatible and does not act as long as the Ginseng. C. pilosula works as an appetizer, is good for people that suffer from listlessness and helps with digestive problems. It has also a stimulating effect on the immune system. In China the roots are also put into soups.
C. pilosula is a light germinator. The seeds should be just sprinkled on the substrate and pressed on it slightly. C. pilosula should then be placed sunny. The substrate should be kept moist. The seeds germinate at 20 °C in 1 to 6 weeks. If the soil is kept warm, germination occurs faster, but the seeds also germinate in cool soil, only slower.
C. pilosula can be kept outside. It is winter hardy and can stand temperatures down to minus 30 °C.
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