Botanical descriptionA deciduous, perennial, woody vine. Alternately arranged , tough, glossy, dark green leaves, 7 - 8cm long and elliptically shaped. White or pale rose to bright pink fragrant flowers, 1.2cm across, bloom in springtime. Usually referred to as dioecious (male and female flowers borne on separate plants) though most selections are monoecious (male and female flowers borne on a single plant). Fruits are borne in dense hanging clusters 10cm long. Fruits are scarlet-red, 6mm long, ovoid berries ripening in autumn. All parts of the plant - berries, leaves and bark - have a lemon aroma.
The fruits of S. chinensis are rich in sugars, high in vitamin C and have a sweet/sour flavour. In Russia a paste made from the fruit is mixed with Actinidia arguta in order to counteract the insufficient acidity of that species.
Boiled as a Vegetable
S. chinensis, known as Wu Wei Zi in the Chinese pharmacopeia, is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs of traditional Chinese medicine. It is considered to be perfectly balanced as the fruit possesses all five flavours of Chinese medicine: acrid/pungent, sweet, bitter, sour, and salty.
The fruit is considered to be sour and warm, to stabilize lung qi, stop coughs, generate fluids, stabilize the exterior, nourish the kidneys, bind the essences (jing), nourish the heart, and calm the spirit (shen). Used in the treatment of chronic coughs, asthma, spontaneous sweats, night sweats, chronic diarrhea, spermatorrhea, urinary incontinence, hepatitis, insomnia, and anxiety. It may be used as a single herb or combined with other herbs in formulas such as Ba Xian Chang Shou Wan, Sheng Mai San, Shi Bu Wan, Ming Mu Di Huang Wan and Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan.
In Kampo (traditional Japanese herbal medicine) S. chinensis, known as Gomishi or "five tastes", is considered one of the most useful herbs for the treatment of liver ailments. Studies have shown that S. chinensis increases the liver's ability to make the enzyme glutathione peroxidase, which deactivates several kinds of free radicals, substances that attack the outer membranes of liver cells. Glutathione peroxidase also helps offset damage done to the liver by chronic viral hepatitis and HIV.
It is an excellent tonic and restorative, helping in stressful times and increasing zest for life. It is considered to be a substitute for ginseng and is said to be a tonic for both the male and the female sex organs. Low doses of the fruit are said to stimulate the central nervous system whilst large doses depress it. The fruit also regulates the cardiovascular system. It is taken internally in the treatment of dry coughs, asthma, night sweats, urinary disorders, involuntary ejaculation, chronic diarrhoea, palpitations, insomnia, poor memory, hyperacidity, hepatitis and diabetes. Externally, it is used to treat irritating and allergic skin conditions.
The fruit contains lignans that have a pronounced protective action on the liver. In one clinical trial there was a 76% success rate in treating patients with hepatitis, no side effects were noticed.
Contraindications: S. chinensis increases the flow of bile, individuals with gallstones or blocakges of the bile ducts should not use this herb. It also stimulates the uterus and induces labour, so should be avoided during pregnancy.
Seed can be sown in autumn.. Some sources recommend exposing seed sown in nursery trays to the winter elements (except in high winter rain fall areas), expecting germination in the spring, or cold stratifying the seed in a refgrigerator for 3 months and sowing in the spring. Other sources recommend keeping autumn sown seed in a cold frame or pre-soaking stored seed for 12 hours in warm water and sowing in a greenhouse in the spring.
When true leaves appear transplant starts to their own pots and grow for a year or two before planting out.
Given a suitable site, S. chinensis is an ideal candidate for forest gardening. Soils should be rich and well-drained yet moisture retentive. Prefers a slightly acid soil but tolerates some alkalinity if plenty of organic matter is added to the soil. Prefers light to deep shade and requires some protection from the most intense sunlight. Vines can become heavy, so provide a sturdy trellis or strong tree for them to climb. Plants will also happily scramble over rocks, walls etc..
Although generally regarded as dioecious (male and female plants must be grown if seed is required) some reports claim that most selections are actually monoecious (bearing both male and female flowers on a single plant). One such selection is 'Eastern Prince.' It bears both male and female flowers and is very productive with large fruit.
The fruits of S. chinensis are regarded as one of the fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine.
Fruit is juicy, delicate and thin skinned. Fruit harvest can begin 5 - 7 days before fully ripe when they are still hard and easier to pick. They ripen quickly after harvest. Good quality fruit is considered to be large with thick, purplish red, fleshy and oily pulp and an intense aroma.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
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Polycultures & Guilds
There are no polycultures listed which include Schisandra chinensis.
- " Cultivar" is not in the list of possible values (Family, Genus, Species, Subspecies, Variety, Cultivar Group, Cultivar) for this property.
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This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
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