Herbs & Plants

Chinese honeylocust(Gleditsia sinensis)

Botanical Name :Gleditsia sinensis
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Genus: Gleditsia
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Species: G. sinensis

Common Name :In China, it has the name zào jiá.  However, its English name includes Chinese honey locust (or Chinese honeylocust), soap bean and soap pod.

Habitat :  E. Asia – China.   Dry valleys in W. China, 1000 – 1600 metres. Along valley streams or on level land.

Chinese honeylocust is a  deciduous  tree, growing to 12 m (39ft 4in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone 5. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It can fix Nitrogen.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It cannot grow in the shade.It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.


Easily grown in a loamy soil, requiring a sunny position. Succeeds in most soils[200]. Tolerates drought once established and atmospheric pollution. Rather tender when young, it grows best in S. Britain. A tree at Cambridge Botanical Gardens was 13 metres tall in 1985. Trees have a light canopy, they come into leaf late in the spring and drop their leaves in early autumn making them an excellent top storey tree in a woodland garden. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. 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.

Seed – pre-soak for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in a greenhouse. The seed should have swollen up, in which case it can be sown, if it has not swollen then soak it for another 24 hours in warm water. If this does not work then file away some of the seed coat but be careful not to damage the embryo. Further soaking should then cause the seed to swell. One it has swollen, the seed should germinate within 2 – 4 weeks at 20°c. As soon as they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual deep pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Give the plants some protection from the cold for their first few winters outdoors

Medicinal Uses :

Anthelmintic;  Antibacterial;  Antifungal;  Antipruritic;  Antitussive;  Astringent;  Emetic;  Expectorant;  Febrifuge;  Haemostatic;  Laxative;
Skin;  Stimulant;  VD.

A decoction of the leaves is used for washing sores, including syphilitic skin diseases. The stem bark is anthelmintic and febrifuge. The fruit is antibacterial, antifungal, antitussive, astringent, emetic, expectorant, haemostatic and stimulant. It is used in the treatment of bronchial asthma with sticky phlegm, epilepsy and apoplexy with loss of consciousness. Overdosage can cause poisoning of the entire body, haemolysis of the blood. The seed is emetic, expectorant, decongestant and purgative. They have been used in the treatment of cancer of the rectum. The root bark is anthelmintic and antifebrile. The thorns on the plant are antipruritic. They are used in the treatment of acute purulent inflammation, dermatopathies and tonsillitis. They should not be used by pregnant women. The plant has been used in the treatment of lockjaw, stroke, acute numbness of the throat and epilepsy, but the report does not make clear whether the seed or the thorns of the plant are used.
Antidote Takeda; Congestion Hunan; Dysentery Hunan; Emetic Woi.4; Epilepsy Hunan; Expectorant Hunan, Takeda, Woi.4; Laxative Hunan; Lockjaw Hunan; Numbness Hunan; Purgative Woi.4; Soap Uphof; Stroke Hunan; Tumor Hartwell.(From Dr. Duke’s  Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases🙂

It is one of the alleged “50 fundamental herbs” used in traditional Chinese medicine. Gleditsia sinensis has been used in China for at least 2000 years as a detergent.

The thorns of Gleditsia sinensis LAM. (Leguminosae) have been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of inflammatory diseases including swelling, suppuration, carbuncle and skin diseases in China and Korea. In this study, we investigated the mechanism responsible for anti-inflammatory effects of Gleditsia sinensis thorns in RAW 264.7 macrophages. The aqueous extract of Gleditsia sinensis thorns (AEGS) inhibited LPS-induced NO secretion as well as inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression, without affecting cell viability. Furthermore, AEGS suppressed LPS-induced NF-kappaB activation, phosphorylation and degradation of IkappaB-alpha, phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). These results suggest that AEGS has the inhibitory effects on LPS-induced NO production and iNOS expression in macrophages through blockade in the phosphorylation of MAPKs, following IkappaB-alpha degradation and NF-kappaB activation.

Other Uses
Soap;  Tannin;  Wood.

The pod is used as a soap substitute. The seed is used. Tannin is obtained from the seedpod. Wood – strong, durable, coarse-grained. Used for general construction.

Known Hazards: The plant contains potentially toxic compounds.

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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