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Codonopsis pilosula

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Codonopsis pilosula photo

Latin Name: Codonopsis pilosula

Common Name: Codonopsis, Bonnet Bellflower, Bastarg Ginseng

Chinese Name: Dang Shen, Tang Shen

Codonopsis pilosula photo

Cool Facts: Codonopsis is called "Poor Man's Ginseng." It can be used as a tasty, sweet energy tonic in food. Toss a few pieces into rice or put it into soups or teas.

Family: Campanulaceae

Energy: Moist, Slightly Warm

Taste: Sweet

Parts Used: Root

Habitat: Native to Northeast Asia, usually grows on stream banks shaded by trees. It is extensively cultivated.

Type: Delicate perennial climbing vine with bell-shaped flowers to 6'.

Size: 6'

Spacing for Production: 2-3'; needs some sort of trellis or some larger plant to grow over for support.

Site and Zone: Partial-shade, morning-sun-only, or dappled-shade, Z5, Z6, Z7, Z8, Z9. Make sure the roots are covered with mulch or shaded by other plants.

Soil: Well-drained, sandy-soil, moist-soil, rich-soil, slightly acid-soil. Hates-clay.

Will it Grow in Texas?: Yes, but cooks in the hot Texas sun so make sure it is in the shade.

Propagation: By seed planted in the fall or by root division in the spring. Seedlings and young plants are frost-tender, so grow them out in the greenhouse initially. Transplant to their permanent spot as soon as all danger of frost is gone. The long taproots do not like to be disturbed. My plants sprouted easily and did well until it got hot. Then one by one they just withered and disappeared. I didn't read my own instructions...the hot Texas sun cooks it. It needs shade.

Bugs & Problems: Gophers really like Codonopsis. So do slugs.

Bloom time: Summer.

Landscaping: Would be nice in a woodland garden growing over a large bush.

Collection: Harvest three to four year old roots in the fall. Clean the roots by scraping them with a knife, then cut them horizontally to remove the hard middle core. Spread the roots flat. Soak the roots in salted water to remove the bitter taste, then pat dry.

Seed Sources: Seedlings2012Dec--will try this again, planted in pots. This time I have a dappled shady spot for it once it warms up growing over a trellis right by the house facing East and South. A large pine and a huge oak block some of the hot midday sun and the roots will be cool and shaded by a ramp.

Websites for photos and more info:
Institute of Traditional Medicine Kitchen Doctor

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