Dangshen Bellflower
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Dangshen Bellflower
ntroduced Photo: Gurcharan Singh
Common name: Dangshen Bellflower, Poor man's ginseng
Botanical name: Codonopsis pilosula    Family: Campanulaceae (Bell flower family)
Synonyms: Codonopsis modesta, Campanumoea pilosula, Codonopsis volubilis

Dangshen Bellflower is a twining perennial herb reaching the length of 5-10 ft with roots 1-3 cm thick. The plant is shrubby and dense. It produces light green five pointed bell shaped flowers with prominent yellow or light purple veins. Flowers are yellow-green, with purple spots inside, broadly bell-shaped, 1.8-2.3 x 1.8-2.5 cm, shallowly lobed. Lobes are triangular, tip pointed. Filaments are slightly dilated at base, about 5 mm; anthers elongate, 5-6 mm. Stigma is white bristly. Sepal cup is adnate to ovary up to middle. Sepals are broadly lanceshaped or narrowly oblong, 1.0-2.3 cm x 6-8 mm, margin subentire or sinuate, apex obtuse or acute; sinus between calyx lobes narrow and pointed. Roots are carrot-shaped or fusiform-cylindrical, 15-30 x 1-3 cm, often branched. Leaves on main stems and branches are alternate, those on branchlets opposite. Leaf-stalks are 0.5-2.5 cm long, sparsely bristly-hairy. Leaves are gray-green below, green above, ovate or narrowly ovate, 1-7.3 x 0.8-5 cm. Leaf underside is sparsely or densely hairy, rarely hairless, base is somewhat heart-shaped, rounded, or flat, margin toothed, tip blunt or pointed.
Medicinal uses: The roots of Dangshen Bellflower are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The roots are harvested from the plant during the third or fourth year of growth and dried prior to sale. The root is also used as a gentler and more economical substitute for Panax ginseng.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh
Photographed in Herbal Garden below Cheshmashahi, Srinagar, Kashmir.
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