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Herb Gallery

Bai Bu (Stemona sessilifolia)

  • Botanical name: Stemona sessilifolia
  • Common name: Stemona root
  • Literal name translation: hundred parts
  • Family: Stemonaceae
  • Part used in Chinese medicine: root
  • Major Chinese medicine actions:
  • Moistens Lungs, alleviates cough, directs Lung qi downward
Stemona sessilifolia

Photo Credits: (top to bottom)
Photo 1: Stemona sessilifolia; 03/2006; author Farm; permission under GFDL

Growing and Propagation

The plant grows to 10 inches high, doing best in part sun and in well drained but moist soil. The greenish flowers have a dark purple center but are small and relatively insignificant, and the tuberous roots are thick, growing to 3/4 inch in diameter. It can be propagated by seed, but is easier grown by stem-cuttings or root division.

Harvesting and Preparation

The root is dug and harvested in summer and fall. The small rootlets are removed, the main root is washed and then steamed until the center core of the root is no longer white. It is sliced and dried in the sun. Bai Bu is sometimes processed with honey (Zhi Bai Bu) by stir frying with 12.5 kg of honey to 100 kg of sliced root until it is no longer sticky to the fingers.

For medicinal use, good quality Bai Bu consists of large, thick roots. They should be grayish white in color and be soft and fleshy, without small rootlets.


Stemona root, or Bai Bu, is the dried root tuber of Stemona sessilifolia, Stemona japonica, or the Stemona tuberosa plants. It is native to Asia, growing in forest margins and thickets, and on mountain slopes and the sides of trails.