Fruits of Shan Zhu Yu tree - Cornus Officinalis (Cornaceae)

Medicinal Use of Shan Zhu Yu – Cornus Officinalis (Cornaceae)


Deciduous tree reaching 13 ft (4 m) with glossy elliptical leaves and bright red oval berries.

Habitat & Cultivation

Native to China, Japan, and Korea, this tree is cultivated in central and eastern China. The fruit is harvested when ripe in autumn.

Part Used



Shan zhu yu contains an iridoid glycoside (verbenalin), saponins, and tannins. Verbenalin produces a mild tonic effect on the involuntary nervous system, especially that governing the digestive system.

History & Folklore

Listed in the 1st-century CE Divine Husbandman’s Classic (Shen’nong Bencaojing), shan zhu yu is one of the constituents of the “Pill of Eight Ingredients,” used to “warm up and invigorate the yang of the loins.”

Medicinal Actions & Uses

As an herb that “stabilizes and binds,” shan zhu yu is used principally to reduce heavy menstrual bleeding and unusually active secretions, including copious sweating, excessive urine, spermatorrhea (involuntary discharge of semen), and premature ejaculation.

Related Species

Several Cornus species are used medicinally around the world. In Europe, the fruit and bark of the cornelian cherry (C. mas) and the bark of common dogwood (C. sanguinea) are used as astringents and to relieve fever. The American boxwood (C. florida) was used by Native Americans as a fever remedy.