Codonopsis Seed Pack


Codonopsis pilosula. 

Known as Dang Shen in Traditional Chinese Medicine, used as a tonic to increase vital energy, or Qi. A good herb for anyone suffering from fatigue or lack of appetite. 

Codonopsis is a delicate perennial climber that requires structural support to reach its full height of 2-3m. It is native to some very cold areas of Mongolia, Korea and China, so can easily tolerate the UK’s coldest winters (apparently it can withstand temperatures as low as -30’c). It grows best in partial shade with well-drained soils. 

If you sow the seed early in the spring it should produce its first flowers by September. In its 2nd year it will flower throughout July and August. Its long roots can be harvested at the end of the 2nd or 3rd year. 

Sowing and Growing 

Sowing non-stratified seed in a greenhouse at the beginning of March produces good germination results. A couple of weeks of cold, moist stratification prior to sowing may help germination if you are sowing later in the spring or early summer (or if you live in a warmer climate). 

Scatter seeds on the surface and press into the soil; do not cover with soil as the seed requires light to germinate. Germination usually takes between 10-20 days. Plant out after the risk of frost has passed. 

Codonopsis grows best – and is easiest to harvest – in a friable, well-drained soil. And being a climber it will need some kind of support – think runner beans. In the wild, it usually grows out of the undergrowth with its ‘feet in the shade and head in the sun’, so you can plant it alongside non-invasive protective companions such as echinacea, wild bergamot or licorice mint. But make sure it doesn’t get smothered in its first few months of growth – it is a relatively slow grower and needs space until it is properly established. 

Uses and Benefits 

Codonposis is known as Dang Shen in Traditional Chinese Medicine and is used as a respected Qi Tonic that addresses loss of appetite, poor digestion and fatigue. It ‘raises the qi’ helping to support the underlying principles of active life; ascending, warming and protecting. This quality is especially noticeable where codonopsis improves red blood cell production and improves alertness. This adaptogenic- tonic effect is specifically found when using high doses of up to 15g per day. Traditionally it would be used as part of a larger formula with other tonics as a decoction. Although its called ‘poor man’s Ginseng’ it does not contain the Triterpenid saponins that bring Panax ginseng its extra special adaptogenic effects. That said, the beauty of this climber is enough to upgrade anyone’s day. 

Harvesting and Preparation 

Over its 3 year growing cycle, the root can grow up to 30cm long. When you harvest the root, gently peel the soil back and loosen the roots without breaking the delicate fresh root. Wash, scrub, slice and dry on a drying rack at 40C for 12-18 hours. Keep some of the ‘crown’ back to replant for the next cycle. 

The fresh root can also be cleaned, sliced and added to rice with spices such as ginger and cinnamon for a nutritious tonic supplement to a meal. 

Use whole fresh roots for making tonic wines. Combines well with liquorice, cinnamon and hawthorn berries in some brandy for a winter treat. 

For a tonic tea use 1 tsp of the dried root simmered in a cup of water for 15 minutes for a sweet and nourishing tea a few times a day. 

Tincture at 1:5@45% alcohol. 

Minimum 50 seeds per pack.