Botanical name: Pueraria lobata
Common name: Kudzu root, Pueraria
Family: Fabaceae, pea family
Part used in Chinese medicine: root
Major Chinese medicine actions:
Releases the exterior, dispels heat and generates fluids,
raises the clear yang to stop diarrhea
Photo Credits: (top to bottom)
Photo 2: Pueraria lobata; 10/2006; author Peggy Greb; permission under USDA, GFDL
Photo 3: Pueraria lobata; 04/2006; author SCEhardt; permission under GFDL
Pueraria, or Kudzu as it is commonly known, was introduced to the United States from Japan, and has since become a problematic noxious weed throughout many of the southeast states. Eradicating the plant has now become the focus, rather than growing and cultivating it.
Growing and Propagation
The Kudzu plant is a climbing, twining, fast-growing perennial vine becoming 10-35 feet long with mature stems growing up to 2 inches thick. It blossoms in August and September with pretty purple or reddish-purple flowers that have a grape-like fragrance, and then the plant produces 2-inch long hairy seedpods.
Like many weeds, Pueraria lobata is hardy, drought tolerant, and grows in almost any kind of soil, though it prefers rich, sandy soil. It can tolerate cold temperatures, but generally grows in warm, moist regions.
Propagation is by seed or root division. Seed should be soaked in water for 24 hours prior to planting directly into the soil. Growing on a trellis is helpful for keeping the plant contained.
Harvesting and Propagation
For medicinal purposes, the root is harvested from October through the next April. After cleaning the root and cutting off the outer bark, the root is sliced and dried in the sun or baked over light heat until dry. Good quality Ge Gen come from large solid, white roots that are more powdery and less fibrous.