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Herb Gallery

Xian He Cao (Agrimonia pilosa)

  • Botanical name: Agrimonia pilosa
  • Common name: Agrimony
  • Literal name translation: immortal crane herb
  • Family: Rosaceae, rose family
  • Part used in Chinese medicine: leaves and stems
  • Major Chinese medicine actions:
  • Binds and restrains bleeding, alleviates diarrhea
Agrimonia pilosa
Agrimonia pilosa

Photo Credits: (top to bottom)
Photo 1: Agrimonia pilosa; 06/2008; author C. Micleu; permission Jade Institute
Photo 2: Agrimonia pilosa; 06/2008; author C. Micleu; permission Jade Institute

Growing and Propagation

The plant is relatively easy to grow and hardy in USDA zones 7-10. It does best in partial to full shade with loamy soil. It can grow in dry or moist soil and is fairly drought tolerant.

Propagation is by seed or plant division. Seed can be sown in spring or fall in a cold frame, pots, or directly in the garden. Germination can be slow, though better if seed is fresh and planted in the fall right after ripening in September. Stored seed germination rates are low and cold stratification prior to planting may help. Plants can be divided in the fall and planted directly into a permanent place in the garden.

Harvesting and Preparation

For medicinal use, good quality Xian He Cao has reddish brown stems and many leaves.


Agrimonia pilosa is native to regions of eastern Europe and northern Asia, found growing in meadows, roadsides, mountains and among forest undergrowth. When mature, the plants grow to 5 feet tall, though if planted in containers they will be considerably shorter, usually only 2-3 feet tall. Blooms appear June to August with showy yellow flowers on tall spikes, followed by small bristly fruits.