Herbs & Plants

Cynanchum atratum

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Botanical Name :Cynanchum atratum
Family: Apocynaceae
Genus: Cynanchum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Synonyms : Vincetoxicum atratum. (Bunge.)Morr.&Decne.
Common Name :Bai Wei

Habitat: Cynanchum atratum is native to E. Asia – Northern China, Japan. It grows in the mountains all over Japan. Sunny meadows from the lowlands to elevations of 500 metres.

Description :
Cynanchum atratum is al herbs or subshrubs, often growing to 0.6 m (2ft) from rhizomes. The leaves are usually oppositely arranged and sometimes are borne on petioles. It is in flower from May to June. The inflorescences and flowers come in a variety of shapes.
The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.


Like other species of the milkweed family, these plants bear follicles, which are podlike dry fruits.

Cynanchum is a genus of about 300 species including some swallowworts, belonging to the family Apocynaceae. The taxon name comes from Greek kynos (meaning “dog”) and anchein (“to choke”), referring to the toxicity of these plants. Hence the common name for several species is dog-strangling vine. Most species are non-succulent climbers or twiners.

Cynanchum louiseae, the black swallowwort, is a troublesome noxious weed in parts of the northern United States.

This species does not need any special process for cultivation as this is probably succeed in most soils in a sunny position.

Seed – sow spring in the greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse 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.

Edible Uses:   Young stem and leaves – cooked. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young seedpods – thoroughly boiled. Some caution is advised.

Medicinal Uses:
The root of Cynanchum atratum is used in Chinese traditional medicine and called Bai wei. Several other species had traditional Chinese medicinal uses.

The roots are used to treat fever, coughs, blood in urine, inflammation of the urethra. Cardiac tonic ingredients of bai wei stimulate the heart muscle and improve contraction and slow down heart rate.  Bai wei can inhibit pneumococcus. Toxic amount: 30-40 grams.  Koreans use the root to treat women in pregnancy and parturition, for fever and micturition, and to apply externally to rounds..

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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