Herbs & Plants

Belamcanda Chinensis

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Botanical Name:Belamcanda chinensis (L.) DC.
syn. Belamcanda punctata Moench, Gemmingia chinensis (L.) Kuntze, Iris chinensis Curtis, Ixia chinensis L., Morea chinensis, Pardanthus chinensis (L.) Ker Gawl.)
Common Name:Blackberry lily, Leopard flower, Leopard lily
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales
Genus: Belamcanda
Species: B. chinensis

Parts Used: Rhizomes
Habitat: Native to eastern Russia, China and Japan.


The leopard lily is a flowering perennial of Chinese origin and is locally used in Chinese villages for its medicinal values. Iris-like herb; leaves in fans on branching stems; flowers 6-parted, yellow to orange-red, spotted with maroon or purple; fruit a black berry.

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The plant grows 60-90 cm tall in full sun and is often found blanketing hill sides, the flowers can range form red to yellow to orange or mixed and bloom in summer to early autumn (fall).

Regardless of its correct botanical name, this plant is very similar in appearance to an iris plant, with flat, sword-like leaves arranged in a fan on a small tuberous rhizome. The foliage grows to 18” tall and the plants produce many offsets. The flowers, however, are very different in appearance from typical iris flowers. They are borne on 2-3 foot tall slender stems in loose, branched spikes. The tall flower stems sometimes flop or are blown over in strong winds, so they may benefit from staking. The flowers are 2” wide with 6 flaring petals of equal size. Flower color in the species ranges from yellow to orange, with darker (often crimson) speckles on the petals. Individual blooms are short-lived – generally lasting only a day – but the plants produce a succession of flowers over a period of several weeks in summer.

The flowers are followed by pear-shaped seed capsules that fade from green to tan. These eventually open to reveal the round, shiny black seeds arranged in clusters resembling large blackberries that give rise to the common name. The seeds remain on the stalks for several months. When left standing, the seed heads offer good winter interest, especially when viewed against a backdrop of snow. The seed heads are also a unique addition to dried flower arrangements.

Grow blackberry lily in full sun or light shade. It prefers well-drained, moderately fertile loamy soil, but does just fine in sandy or clay soils. It will be shorter when grown in poor, dry soil, and taller if the soil is rich and moist. Deadhead to prolong blooming (and prevent self-seeding). Even in colder climates it does not need winter protection.

The flowers and the seed heads are interesting, but not particularly showy so this species is best planted in a location where they can be appreciated up close. Before the plants begin flowering they are not especially eye-catching, so you may wish to mix it with other plants that can attract attention until the blackberry lily begins flowering. It is suitable for perennial borders, in containers, and for naturalizing in an informal area.

This perennial plant is easily grown from seed, and will flower the first season if started early enough. Sow the seed ¼” deep in warm soil (indoors in pots 6-8 weeks before planting outside or in the garden after the danger of frost has passed). Keep the seedbed evenly moist and germination should occur in 1-2 weeks. Seedlings are easily transplanted. This species can also be propagated by division in spring or early autumn.

Bitter and acrid.
Aperient and resolvent.
Expectorant, deobstruant, carminative.

Medicinal Uses
*Rhizomes used as expectorant.
*Used for purifying the blood, for liver nad pulmonary complaints.
*In traditional Chinese medicine, used for throat conditions, cough, wheezing, bronchitis and mumps.

• New flavone and isoflavone glycoside from Belmacanda chinensis
• Antiproliferative / Anticancer: Phenolic constituents of rhizomes of the Thai medicinal plant with proliferative activity for two breast cancer lines – Three new compounds were identified– belalloside A, belalloside B and belamphenone along with other compounds resveratrol, iriflophenone, irisflorentine, tectoridin, among the 13 others. Results showed to isolates to have proliferation stimulatory activity against human breast cancer cell lines..
• Antifungal: A study on the antifungal activity of Belamcanda chinensis isolated a compound identical to tectorigenin (5,7-dihydroxy-3-(4-hydroxy phenyl)-6-methoxy-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one). This compound showed marked antifungal activity against dermatophytes of the genera Trichophyton.

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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.


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