Perennial herb with a thick rhizome, thin leaves up to 28 in (70 cm) long, and clusters of small white or light purple flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to northern China, zhi mu grows wild on exposed slopes and hills. It is cultivated in the northern and northeastern provinces.
Contains steroidal saponins, lignans, phenolic compounds, and xanthones.
History & Folklore
Zhi mu is first mentioned in the 1st-century CE herbal, the Divine Husbandman’s Classic (Shen’nong Bencaojing).
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Zhi mu has a bitter taste and a “cold” temperament and is used in Chinese herbal medicine for “excess heat”—fever, night sweats, and coughs. It has been shown to have significant antibacterial activity and is commonly used to treat sores and mouth ulcers.