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Gynostemma pentaphyllum

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Gynostemma pentaphyllum photo

Latin Name: Gynostemma pentaphyllum

Common Name: Gynostemma, 5-Leaf Ginseng, Poor-Man's Ginseng, Southern Ginseng, Miracle Grass, Fairy Herb, Gospel Herb, Sweet Tea of the Vine, Immortality Herb, Jag

Chinese Name: Jiao Gu Lan, Jiaogulan, Xiancao, Xianxao, Amachazu


Cool Facts: Just pull up escapee stray vines for tea. It is said that people in southern China who drink the tea every day commonly live to 100 or more.

Family: Curcubitaceae

Energy: Neutral

Taste: Sweet, Slightly Bitter

Parts Used: Herb

Habitat: Native to the shady mountainous areas of southern China, Japan, as well as Bangladesh, India, Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Many species of Gynostemma are called Jiao Gu Lan and are probably similarly effective. Jiao Gu Lan is not well-known in traditional Chinese medicine because of its limited habitat.

Type: Short-lived perennial vine. Goes dormant in winter outdoors but will grow year round in warm climates or a greenhouse.

Size: Will grow 20' to 30' in a season.

Spacing for Production: 12" next to a trellis.

Site and Zone: Full-sun or partial-shade, Z8, Z9, Z10.

Soil: Needs a rich-soil, moist-soil, well-drained soil. My plants did really well for the first couple years and then just fizzled out. I doubt I added enough compost and the historic drought hasn't helped. Never mind the chickens that loved eating it!

Will it Grow in Texas?: Yes, in moist partial-shade, which is not easy to find in Texas. It's getting a spot on a large trellis in our greenhouse.

Propagation: Easy by root division. Will root at stem nodes as well. Can be grown from seeds. There are male and female plants.

Bugs & Problems: No significant bug-type pests. Birds and mammals do like to eat it, so it may need protection! The composition of the soil can affect the taste of the herb.

Bloom time: Small pale yellow flowers bloom in the summer. Female plants produce small, black pea-sized berries.

Landscaping: Could be used as ground cover under trees, but then it would be difficult to protect from varmints.

Collection: June for artificially cultivated plants, before flowering; August for plants grown in the wild rainforest.

Storage: Needs to be artificially dried and stored in a dark place.

Seed Sources:
Horizon Herbs
Mountain Gardens Herbs

Websites for photos and more info:
Botany and Cultivation-Chapter IV by Michael Blumert
www.medicinalherbplants.com
Plants for a Future Database

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