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Jun 18, 2011: Rehmannia glutinosa

Rehmannia glutinosa

An entry written by Alexis today:

Pictured in this photo taken by Daniel is the flower of Rehmannia glutinosa, from a plant growing in the UBC Botanical Garden. This genus is commonly referred to as Chinese foxglove.

Rehmannia glutinosa is a perennial herb native to China. It grows by trails and on mountain slopes, and can also be seen springing up through cracks in the pavement and walls in the Forbidden City, as noted by Lancaster in Plantsman's Paradise: Travels in China (2008). In the UBC Botanical Garden, a few small patches of the herb can be found in an unshaded area near the garden entrance. Every inch of the plant appears to be densely covered in hairs, which feel just as soft and fuzzy as they look. The flowers are neither fragrant nor eye-catching in colour but I found their shape uniquely endearing, as they resemble small hairy trumpets suitable perhaps for some tiny orchestra.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Rehmannia glutinosa is called Di Huang and has a multitude of purposes. When bruised, the leaves are a remedy for eczema and psoriasis. Fever, coughs and bleeding are just a few of the symptoms treated with the roots of the plant; they are also used in treating cancer and anemia. Rehmannia glutinosa is also one of the ingredients in the most popular women's tonic in China, "Four Things Soup", the other ingredients of which are Angelica sinensis, Paeonia lactiflora and Ligusticum wallichii. Apparently the roots are also edible, though I am wary of anything that supposedly requires being boiled nine times before ingesting.

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