Codonopsis. codonopsis pisoula

(Dang shen) Important Chinese medicinal herb similar in action to ginseng.

A tender perennial with sweet tasting roots have been shown to boost red cell and hemoglobin counts in rabbits.

Used as a tonic in anemia, fatigue, shallow and strained breathing, poor appetite, dyspepsia, and diabetes. Unusual violet-streaked green bell-shaped flowers.

Often referred to as the poor man’s ginseng, codonopsis produces nutritive tubers that lend themselves to culinary imagination. Codonopsis is often added to soup to enhance the health benefits of the soup but it also makes an excellent meat substitute that has exotic appeal.

Packet app. 20 seeds.


Seeds need 20-30 days for germination and are best started indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost.

Plant seeds app ¼” deep and keep soil consistently moist.

Transplant when soil temp reaches 65-70 deg.

Best located in half shade to shade in well drained soil
Native from the Himalayas to Japan. A twining climber with a spindle-shaped root. Solitary, bell-shaped yellow to olive green flowers in summer.

Codonopsis is a bit sweet, especially if soaked in water before use. It is rich in saponins and has a capacity to penetrate and cleanse tissues. It is considered particularly beneficial to the lungs, spleen, and stomach. Research shows that it reduces blood pressure and increases immunity and hemoglobin. It is an adaptogen and supports the adrenals.

In Oriental medicine, codonopsis is used to treat yin deficiency conditions and increase precious qi. This makes it useful for those who are tired or suffering from chronic fatigue. It also helps to remove “false fire” and reduce the risk of peptic ulcers. In China, it is often used by people undergoing radiation therapy.

Roots take time.

The roots take three years to mature and are harvested in autumn. Because the roots are so tasty, they need to be protected from gophers. Many prefer to keep the seedlings in a greenhouse in the first winter and then move them outdoors in late spring or early summer.

The plant is native to East Asia and hardy at least to zone 5, some say it can tolerate a bit more cold, 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Codonopsis is best grown in a protected location–out of the wind— and needs to be heavily mulched in the fall for it to survive.

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