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It grows to 3-7 m tall, with usually unbranched stems 2 cm diameter bearing a rosette of large leaves at the top (superficially similar to a palm crown). The leaves are carried on 40-60 cm petioles, the leaf blade orbicular, 30-50 cm across, deeply palmately lobed with 5-11 primary lobes, the central lobes larger and Y-forked near the end. It spreads extensively by sprouts from the root system underground. The inflorescence is a large panicle of hemispherical to globular umbels near the end of the stem. The flowers have 4 or 5 small white petals. The fruit is a small drupe.
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Chinese medicine uses the pith as a liver stimulant and a diuretic and to increase milk production. It is believed to have cooling effects. Plant extracts have shown anticancer activity in animals. Used to treat coughs, fever, diabetes, induces flow of urine and expels intestinal worms.
The pith from the stem is used to make a substance commonly known as rice paper, but more properly termed pith paper.
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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