Asarum sieboldii

[From Greek, asarum = a plant, described by Dioscorides and Pliny, and after Philip Franz Von Siebold (1796-1866), a German naturalist who explored Japan]

Physical description: It is a rhi-zomatous herb found on the shady stream banks and in the deciduous

Fig. 32. Asarum sieboldii Miq. From: Herbarium 10071. Ex. Herbario Universitatis Imperialis Tokyoensis. Field collector & botanical identification: H Nakai & K Obuko, 23 May 1965. Geographical localization: Japan: Nagano Pref. Shiya-Kosen Uchiyama-Mura, Minamisaku — Gun, altitude 900 m-1,000 m.

Fig. 32. Asarum sieboldii Miq. From: Herbarium 10071. Ex. Herbario Universitatis Imperialis Tokyoensis. Field collector & botanical identification: H Nakai & K Obuko, 23 May 1965. Geographical localization: Japan: Nagano Pref. Shiya-Kosen Uchiyama-Mura, Minamisaku — Gun, altitude 900 m-1,000 m.

Synonymy: Asarum heterotropoides Fr. Schmidt var. mandshuricum (Maxim.) Kitawaga.

Common names: Chinese wild ginger; xixin (Chinese).

forests of China and Japan. The plant grows to a height of 20 cm-30 cm. Leaves: simple, spiral and without stipules. The petiole is 9cm-13.5cm x 2mm-3mm. The blade is cordate, irregular, very thin and 5.5 cm x 5cm-10cm x 11cm. The blade shows a few secondary nerves which originate from the base. The flowers are solitary, axillary and dark purple. The flower pedicel is 5 mm-2 cm long. The perianth is bell-shaped, 3-lobed and 1.5 cm x 1.4 cm (Fig. 32).

Pharmaceutical interest: The roots contain 3% of essential oil which comprises of methyleugenol, phenol, saf-role, pinene, asarinin, eucarvone, and palmitic acid (Nagasawa, 1961). The anti-inflammatory property of Asarum sieboldii is confirmed (Qu SY et a/., 1982). Phenylpropanoids such as methyleugenol could mediate both the expectorating and analgesic properties as demonstrated in Asarum europaeum L. (Gracza L., 1981; Belova LF et al., 1985). The effect of Asarum sieboldii on the left ventricular function of dogs is known (Chen ZZ et al., 1981). The plant is interesting because its analgesic property involves bradykinin, histamine and opioid receptor-mediated pathways (Kim SJ et al., 2003).

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