Botanical description

A deciduous, perennial, woody vine. Alternately arranged , tough, glossy, dark green leaves, 7 - 8cm long and elliptically shaped. White[3] or pale rose to bright pink[1] fragrant flowers, 1.2cm across, bloom in springtime. Usually referred to as dioecious (male and female flowers borne on separate plants)[3][1] though most selections are monoecious (male and female flowers borne on a single plant)[1]. 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[1].


Edible uses


The fruits of S. chinensis are rich in sugars[2], high in vitamin C[1] and have a sweet/sour flavour[9]. In Russia a paste made from the fruit is mixed with Actinidia arguta in order to counteract the insufficient acidity of that species[13].


Raw, dried as a Fruit

Fruits of S. chinensis are traditionally dried for use as a snack food[1][2]. The flavour of dried fruits diminshes quickly with age and dried fruits should be stored no longer than one year[3].

Fruit is also eaten fresh[4][5].

Fruits are about the size of red currants - 6mm in diameter - and borne in grape-like bunches about 10cm long[6][1][5]. The fruits are delicate, thin skinned with juicy flesh, and contain 1 or 2 hard seeds[1]. Fruits can be harvested 5 - 7 days before full ripeness, when still hard and thus eaiser to pick. They ripen quickly after harvest.[1]

Juiced as a Wine, soft drinks, confectionary

In Russia, pasteurised juice is used to make wines and soft drinks and the juice and flesh are used in confectionary[1].

Young leaves

Boiled as a Vegetable

Young leaves are boiled and eaten as a vegetable[4][7][8].

Material uses

Wood, fruit

Size for paper, hair dressing

A viscid mucoid material is obtained from the fruit and the branches, it is used as a size for paper and as a hair dressing[9].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

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[12]. It is considered to be perfectly balanced as the fruit possesses all five flavours of Chinese medicine:[3] acrid/pungent, sweet, bitter, sour, and salty[14].

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)[3]. Used in the treatment of chronic coughs, asthma, spontaneous sweats, night sweats, chronic diarrhea, spermatorrhea, urinary incontinence, hepatitis, insomnia, and anxiety[3]. 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[3].

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[11]. 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[11]. Glutathione peroxidase also helps offset damage done to the liver by chronic viral hepatitis and HIV[11].

It is an excellent tonic and restorative, helping in stressful times and increasing zest for life[15]. 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[10]. Low doses of the fruit are said to stimulate the central nervous system whilst large doses depress it[12]. The fruit also regulates the cardiovascular system[12]. 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[10]. Externally, it is used to treat irritating and allergic skin conditions[10].

The fruit contains lignans[15] 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[15].

One source reports that the seed of S. chinensis has been used in the treatment of cancer[12] and that the plant is antirheumatic[12].

Contraindications: S. chinensis increases the flow of bile, individuals with gallstones or blocakges of the bile ducts should not use this herb[11]. It also stimulates the uterus and induces labour, so should be avoided during pregnancy[11].


Dried as an Adaptogen, antitussive, aphrodisiac, astringent, cardiotonic, cholagogue, expectorant, hepatic, hypotensive, lenitive, nervine, pectoral, sedative, stimulant, tonic

The fruit is harvested after the first frosts and sun-dried for later use[10][1][3]. Commonly administered as decoctions, powders, tinctures, concentrated powders and pills[3].

To make a decoction: simmer 1.5 - 9 grams (1/2 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon) of chopped dried berries in 1 - 2 cups of water for forty-five minutes. Strain and drink between meals.[11]

It is essentially impossible to overdose on S. chinensis in decoction form. A toxic dose is considered to be 750 grams of berries for a 70kg person[11].



A mucilaginous decoction obtained from the branches is useful in the treatment of coughs, dysentery and gonorrhoea[12].


Ecosystem niche/layer


Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed can be slow to germinate. Cuttings take well[16]. Shoots can be layered in autumn[6] and removed the following year[1].


Seed can be sown in autumn.[3][6][10]. 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[3][1]. Other sources recommend keeping autumn sown seed in a cold frame[6][10] or pre-soaking stored seed for 12 hours in warm water and sowing in a greenhouse in the spring[10].

When true leaves appear transplant starts to their own pots and grow for a year or two before planting out[3].

Rooted cuttings

Take semi-ripe cuttings in summer[1][17][16], 5 - 8cm with a heel[17][16]. Overwinter in the greenhouse and plant out in late spring[17][16].


Given a suitable site, S. chinensis is an ideal candidate for forest gardening[3]. Soils should be rich and well-drained yet moisture retentive[3][17][6]. Prefers a slightly acid soil but tolerates some alkalinity if plenty of organic matter is added to the soil[6]. Prefers light to deep shade[3][18] and requires some protection from the most intense sunlight[6]. Vines can become heavy, so provide a sturdy trellis or strong tree for them to climb[3]. Plants will also happily scramble over rocks, walls etc.[1].

The fully dormant plant is hardy to about -17°c, though the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. Prune in late winter[1] or spring[18][1].

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)[1]. One such selection is 'Eastern Prince.' It bears both male and female flowers and is very productive with large fruit[1].


The fruits of S. chinensis are regarded as one of the fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine.[3]



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.[1] Good quality fruit is considered to be large with thick, purplish red, fleshy and oily pulp and an intense aroma.[3]

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Schisandra chinensis. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Schisandra chinensis.

Setting subspecies...



  • "" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.
  • Some use of "<nowiki>[[</nowiki>" in your query was not closed by a matching "]]".


None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Schisandra chinensis
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
  • Fruit (Fruit)
  • Fruit (Wine soft drinks confectionary)
  • Young leaves (Vegetable)
Material uses
  • Wood fruit (Size for paper hair dressing)
Medicinal uses
  • Fruit (Adaptogen antitussive aphrodisiac astringent cardiotonic cholagogue expectorant hepatic hypotensive lenitive nervine pectoral sedative stimulant tonic)
  • Vine
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
partial sun
permanent shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems [1][3]
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    Native Environment
    Ecosystem Niche
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life [3][1]
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    6 - 8 x
    Flower Colour
    white, pink
    Flower Type


    1. ? Crawford, Martin. Agroforestry News Vol. 20, No. 2: Schisandra Agroforestry Research Trust (2012/02/01)
    2. ? 2.02.1 Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (32202/01/01)
    3. ? Schafer, Peg. The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm: A cultivator's guide to small-scale organic herb production Chelsea Green ISBN 978-1-60358-330-5 (2011/03/01)
    4. ? 4.04.1 Facciola. S. Cornucopia II: A source book of edible plants. Kampong ISBN 978-0-9628087-2-2 (1998/03/01)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Crawford, Martin. Creating a Forest Garden: Working with nature to grow edible crops Green Books ISBN 978-1-900322-62-1 (2010/03/01)
    6. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (32202/01/01)
    7. ? Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (32202/01/01)
    8. ? Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (32202/01/01)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre ()
    10. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (32202/01/01)
    11. ? Rister, Robert. Japanese Herbal Medicine: The healing art of Kampo. Avery ISBN 0-89529-836-8 (1999/03/01)
    12. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (32202/01/01)
    13. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (32202/01/01)
    14. ? [Chinese herbology] Wikipedia (2013/03/20)
    15. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (32202/01/01)
    16. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (32202/01/01)
    17. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (32202/01/01)
    18. ? 18.018.1 Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V. Gardening on Walls Collins ISBN 0-00-219220-0 (32202/01/01)