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Herb Gallery

Ban Zhi Lian (Scutellaria barbata)

  • Botanical name: Scutellaria barbata
  • Common name: Barbat scullcap, Bearded scutellaria
  • Literal name translation: half-branch lotus
  • Family: Lamiaceae, mint family
  • Part used in Chinese medicine: leaves and stems
  • Major Chinese medicine actions:
  • Clears heat, resolves toxin, reduces swelling, promotes urination,
    mildly invigorates blood, anti-neoplastic
Scutellaria barbata
Scutellaria barbata

Photo Credits: (top to bottom)
Photo 1: Scutellaria barbata; 07/2008; author C. Micleu; permisssion Jade Institute
Photo 2: Scutellaria barbata; 07/2008; author C. Micleu; permisssion Jade Institute

Growing and Propagation

This perennial herbaceous plant forms a low growing mound about 6 inches tall, spreading by rhizomes. It prefers part shade, but can also grow in full sun, and requires moist soil. It is hardy to USDA zone 7. Showy, purplish-blue flowers grow on small stalks, blooming from May to July. The seed ripens from June to August when it can be gathered and planted, though left alone, the plant will self sow easily.

Harvesting and Preparation

The herb can be harvested in the summer and fall when the foliage is full. It is washed, and dried in the sun. For medicinal use, good quality Ban Zhi Lian consist of clean leaves, free of foreign matter, that when dried are a purplish-green color.


Scutellaria barbata is native to China, Japan and Korea, and is primarily found in fertile, moist areas along the margins of rice paddy fields and along the edges of streams and wetlands. The herb has been the subject of much modern research for its use in the treatment of chronic hepatitis and some cancers. The leaves of the plant have historically been used for food. In this case, young shoots are gathered in early spring, pickled in salt, and stored for winter use.