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Snake’s Beard (Ophiopogon japonicus)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Snake's Beard
Ophiopogon japonicus
Convallariaceae

A good carpeting plant[1, 200] that spreads quite freely[208], it is commonly planted as a ground cover or as a low-maintenance grass substitute[187, 208]. It is particularly valuable for preventing soil erosion[200]. Plants should be spaced about 45cm apart each way[208].

  • Medicinal Use

    The root is antitussive, aphrodisiac, expectorant, pectoral, sedative, sialogogue, stomachic and tonic[147, 174, 176, 218, 238]. It is said to have anticancer activity[218]. It is used internally in the treatment of dry coughs, fevers, thirst, dry constipation, insomnia, anxiety and palpitations[238]. It is also frequently used in polyherbal treatments of diabetes mellitus[218]. The roots have an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus, E. coli, Bacillus subtilis, B. typhi etc[176]. The roots are harvested in the spring and dried for later use[238].

    The plant is antipyretic, antiscrofulatic, antitussive, emollient, expectorant and tonic[218].

    Lowers blood pressure[176]. Nodules on the fibrous roots are used as a nutritive tonic in the treatment of TB[174].

  • Edible Use

    Root[61]. A bitterness should be removed according to some reports[105, 177] whilst another says that it is sweet and aromatic[178]. Mucilaginous[179, 218]. The root contains about 1.6% protein, 0.5% fat, 80% carbohydrate, 2.3% ash[179].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a sandy compost in a cold frame[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring[188].
Prefers a sandy soil[1]. Succeeds in any moderately fertile well-drained soil and also as a submerged aquatic plant, though it does not flower in such a situation[200]. Succeeds in a sunny position if the soil remains moist all year round, otherwise it should be grown in semi-shade[200]. Plants may require winter protection according to one report[1], whilst another says that they are hardy to about -20¡c[200]. Plants only succeed outdoors in the milder areas of the country[208]. This species is cultivated as a medicinal plant in China[178].
E. Asia – 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.