Hyacinth Orchid (Bletilla striata)

Bletia hyacinthina.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Hyacinth Orchid
Bletilla striata

The bulb is mucilaginous, it is used as a size to impart a glossiness to ink and also to make an invisible ink (seen by wetting the paper and holding it up to the light)[178].

  • Medicinal Use

    The hyacinth orchid is an important wound herb in China, where it has been used medicinally for over 1,500 years[238]. The root (actually a pseudobulb) is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiphlogistic, demulcent, pectoral, skin, styptic and vulnerary[147, 176, 178]. It is taken internally in the treatment of haemorrhages of the stomach or lungs, uterine bleeding and nose bleeds[238]. It is particularly effective against the endotoxin produced by Haemophilus pertusis in whooping cough[176]. Externally, it is mixed with sesame oil and applied as a poultice to burns, cuts, abscesses and sores[238].

    The pseudobulbs are harvested when the plant is dormant and are dried for use in decoctions and powders[238].

  • Edible Use

    None known

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – surface sow, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. The seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil[200]. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move. Division in autumn. Make sure that you keep plenty of soil with each plant. It is also said to be possible to transplant orchids after they have flowered but whilst they are still in leaf. Division is best carried out in the spring[230]. Each division should have a leading point and two, or preferably three, pseudobulbs/joints of the rhizome[230]. More propagating material can be obtained by cutting halfway through the rhizome during the previous growing season at the point where you wish to divide[230]. This will stimulate the production of growth buds at the point of division[230].
Requires a friable, damp but well-drained soil enriched with leafmold[200]. Dislikes wet soils[200]. Requires shade from the midday sun[1]. Plants prefer a sheltered position in light shade, also succeeding in full sun in humus-rich soils[230]. Plants are hardy in favoured localities in Britain but they usually require greenhouse protection in this country[1]. Plants have grown well at Kew Botanical gardens, where they have formed large colonies[230]. Apply a good organic mulch in the late autumn or lift the bulbs and store them dry in a frost free place[200]. Plant out in spring and only just cover the bulb[200]. This species is cultivated in China as a medicinal plant[238]. Grows well with ferns in a woodland setting[200]. Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid[230]. Plant the tubers no more than 5cm deep in the soil[233].
E. Asia – China, Japan.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.