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Toxic parts

We have no specific details for this species but most members of this genus have poisonous roots and stems[1]. The plant contains aristolochic acid, this has received rather mixed reports on its toxicity. According to one report aristolochic acid stimulates white blood cell activity and speeds the healing of wounds, but is also carcinogenic and damaging to the kidneys[2]. Another report says that it is an active antitumour agent but is too toxic for clinical use[3]. Another report says that aristolochic acid has anti-cancer properties and can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy and that it also increases the cellular immunity and phagocytosis function of the phagocytic cells[4].

Edible uses


Leaves - cooked[5][1]. It is said that the leaves of this species are not poisonous[1] but caution is advised.


Material uses

There are no material uses listed for Aristolochia debilis.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Alterative, antibacterial, antifungal, diuretic[6]. Stimulates energy circulation[7].

The fruit and its capsule are antiasthmatic, antiseptic, antitussive and expectorant[4][3]. It is used internally in the treatment of asthma and various other chest complaints, haemorrhoids and hypertension[8]. The root is anodyne and anti-inflammatory[8]. It is used internally in the treatment of snakebite, gastric disorders involving bloating, and is clinically effective against hypertension[3]. It is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[8]. The whole plant is antitussive, carminative, stimulant and tonic[3].

The root contains aristolochic acid. This has anti-cancer properties and can be used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy[4]. Aristolochic acid can also be used in the treatment of acute and serious infections such as TB, hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and infantile pneumonia[4]. It also increases the cellular immunity and phagocytosis function of the phagocytic cells[4]. Aristolochic acid is said to be too toxic for clinical use[3].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn. Pre-soak stored seed for 48 hours in hand-hot water and surface sow in a greenhouse[9]. Germination usually takes place within 1 - 3 months at 20°c[9]. Stored seed germinates better if it is given 3 months cold stratification at 5°c[10]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer after the last expected frosts.

Division in autumn[10].

Root cuttings in winter[10].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Aristolochia debilis. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers a well-drained loamy soil, rich in organic matter, in sun or semi-shade[9][10]. Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[9].

This species is not very hardy in Britain, tolerating temperatures down to about -5°c[8].

Most species in this genus have malodorous flowers that are pollinated by flies[10].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Aristolochia debilis. 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 Aristolochia debilis.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Aristolochia debilis
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    1 x 1 meters
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre (1977-00-00)
    2. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    3. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    4. ? Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.1 Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre ()
    7. ? 7.07.1 ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
    8. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    9. ? Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2. Thompson and Morgan. (1988-00-00)
    10. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    11. ? Ohwi. G. Flora of Japan. (English translation) Smithsonian Institution (1965-00-00)
    12. ? Wilson. E. H. Plantae Wilsonae. ()
    13. ? [Flora of China] (1994-00-00)

    Facts about "Aristolochia debilis"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyAristolochiaceae +
    Belongs to genusAristolochia +
    Has binomial nameAristolochia debilis +
    Has common nameMa Dou Ling +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partLeaves +
    Has edible useUnknown use +
    Has fertility typeFlies +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has hardiness zone8 +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has mature height1 +
    Has mature width1 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAlterative +, Anodyne +, Antibacterial +, Antifungal +, Antiinflammatory +, Antitussive +, Carminative +, Cytotoxic +, Diuretic +, Expectorant +, Hypotensive +, Stomachic + and Tonic +
    Has search namearistolochia debilis + and ma dou ling +
    Has shade toleranceLight shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameAristolochia debilis +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF material use notes migratedYes +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
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