Astragalus propinquus

Botanical Name :Astragalus propinquus
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Astragalus
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Species: A. propinquus

Synonyms:
*Astragalus membranaceus (Fisch.) Bunge
*Astragalus membranaceus (Fisch.) Bunge var. mongholicus (Bunge)P.K.Hsiao
*Astragalus propinquus Schischkin var. glabra Vydr.
*Phaca membranacea Fisch.

Other Names:huáng qí (yellow leader)  or bei qí (traditional Chinese), huáng hua huáng qí (Chinese),

Habitat :E. Asia – China, Mongolia and SiberiaDry sandy soils. Mountain thickets. Steppes, meadows, xerophytic shrubs, coniferous forests; montane belt at altitudes of 800 – 2000 metres

Description:
It is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae. It is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is a perennial plant
growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in). It is not listed as being threatened.
click to see the picture
It is hardy to zone 6. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.It can fix Nitrogen.

The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It cannot grow in the shade.It requires dry soil.

Cultivation:
Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position. Prefers a sandy slightly alkaline soil. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c. There is some disagreement over the correct name for this species, with several authorities seeing it as part of A. penduliflorus. The Flora of China treats it as a sub-species of A. mongholicus, as A. mongholicus dahurica. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best planted in their final positions whilst still small. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Many members of this genus can be difficult to grow, this may be due partly to a lack of their specific bacterial associations in the soil.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate[200]. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing – but make sure that you do not cook the seed. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours[. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 – 9 weeks or more at 13°c if the seed is treated or sown fresh[134]. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

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Medicinal Use:
Adaptogen;  Antibacterial;  Cancer;  Cardiotonic;  Diuretic;  Febrifuge;  Hypoglycaemic;  Hypotensive;  Pectoral;  Tonic;  Uterine tonic;
Vasodilator.

Huang Qi is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs. The root is a sweet tonic herb that stimulates the immune system and many organs of the body, whilst lowering blood pressure and blood sugar levels. It is particularly suited to young, physically active people, increasing stamina and endurance and improving resistance to the cold – indeed for younger people it is perhaps superior to ginseng in this respect. Huang Qi is used especially for treatment of the kidneys and also to avoid senility. The plant is often used in conjunction with other herbs such as Atractylodes macrocephala and Ledebouriella seseloides. The root contains a number of bio-active constituents including saponins and isoflavonoids. It is adaptogen, antipyretic, diuretic, tonic, uterine stimulant and vasodilator. It is used in the treatment of cancer, prolapse of the uterus or anus, abscesses and chronic ulcers, chronic nephritis with oedema and proteinuria. Recent research in the West has shown that the root can increase the production of interferon and macrophages and thus help restore normal immune function in cancer patients. Patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy recover faster and live longer if given Huang Qi concurrently. The root of 4 year old plants is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use . The plant is antipyretic, diuretic, pectoral and tonic. Extracts of the plant are bactericidal, hypoglycaemic and hypotensive.  Cardiotonic, vasodilator.

Herbalism
A. propinquus is used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is used to speed healing and treat diabetes. In western herbal medicine, Astragalus is primarily considered a tonic for enhancing metabolism and digestion and is consumed as a tea or soup made from the (usually dried) roots of the plant, often in combination with other medicinal herbs. It is also traditionally used to strengthen the immune system and in the healing of wounds and injuries. Extracts of A. propinquus are used in Australia as part of a commercially available pharmaceutical MC-S to stimulate production of peripheral blood lymphocytes.

A. propinquus has been asserted to be a tonic that can improve the functioning of the lungs, adrenal glands and the gastrointestinal tract, increase metabolism, sweating, promote healing and reduce fatigue.

There is a report in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology that Astragalus membranaceus can show “immunomodulating and immunorestorative effects.” It has been shown to increase the production of interferon and to activate immune cells such as macrophages.

Known Hazards :   Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.academic.ru/dic.nsf/enwiki/5555518
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Astragalus membranaceus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astragalus_propinquus

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