Ye Jiao Teng
Botanical name: Polygonum multiflorum
Common name: Fleeceflower caulis
Literal name translation: nocturnal commingling vine
Family: Polygonaceae, knotweed family
Part used in Chinese medicine: caulis (stalk and stems)
Major Chinese medicine actions:
Nourishes Heart, calms spirit, nourishes blood, unblocks collaterals
Photo Credits: (top to bottom)
Photo 1: Polygonum multiflorum; 06/2007; author C. Micleu; permission Jade Institute
Photo 2: Polygonum multiflorum; 06/2007; author C. Micleu; permission Jade Institute
Ye Jiao Teng consists of the stalks and stems of Polygonum multiflorum, the same plant as He Shou Wu, which is the prepared root of the plant. In fact an alternate name for Ye Jiao Teng is Shou Wu Teng. It is a vigorous twining herbaceous perennial vine native to East Asia, traditionally found in China growing along the banks of streams and in valleys and shrub thickets. Before the 1930’s, the plant grew profusely on open hillsides and in villages, especially along the Yangtze River, and local people would gather the wild roots in autumn, using them for their own medicine and to sell at herb markets. In more recent times, the plant material comes primarily from cultivated sources.
Growing and Propagation
The plant grows best in warm, moist, sandy, well-drained soil high in organic matter, and in full sun to light shade. Growing 3-6 feet long, it blooms from September to October with profuse panicles of small white flowers and the seeds ripen from October to November.
It is recommended that the plant be grown in raised beds that are cultivated to at least one foot deep with a good deal of compost and organic fertilizer added. Seeds can be sown in early spring after the last frost in soil that is kept moist and reaches 60-68 degrees F in temperature. Germination takes about 20 days and once established, the plant is easy to grow, is hardy to USDA zone 7, and can withstand temperatures down to -15 F.
Propagation can also be achieved by division or cuttings. After dividing plants in the spring or fall, large divisions can be planted directly in the garden. Smaller divisions are best grown in pots in the shade or in a cold frame until they are well established, then may be transplanted to the garden. Cuttings can be taken between July and August with 3 to 6 inches long pieces and rooting them in water, or planting directly into moist garden soil. They can be transplanted to a permanent location in the spring of the second year of growth, when they are well established.
Harvesting and Preparation
For medicinal use, good quality Ye Jiao Teng stems are thick and the outer bark is purplish brown in color. The roots (He Shou Wu) are also used in Chinese medicine.