Botanical Name: Bergenia crassifolia
Species: B. crassifolia
*Bergenia cordifolia (Haw.) Sternb.
*Saxifraga cordifolia Haw.
*Saxifraga crassifola L.
Common Names: Heart-leaved bergenia. Heartleaf bergenia, Leather bergenia, Winter-blooming bergenia, Elephant-ears,elephant’s ears, Korean elephant-ear, Badan, pigsqueak, Siberian tea, and Mongolian tea.
Habitat: Bergenia crassifolia is native to E. Asia – N.W. China to Siberia. It grows on on shady north-facing rocks, stony slopes, rock streams and old moraines in the forest and alpine zones.
Bergenia crassifolia is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.8 m (2ft 7in).
. It is in leaf all year, in flower from March to April. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
.The leaves are winter hardy in warmer climates and change colour in the range of rust brown to brown-red. The rhizome is creeping, fleshy, thick, reaching several meters in length and 3.5 cm in diameter, with numerous root lobes, highly branched, located near the soil surface, turning into a powerful vertical root. The stem is thick, leafless, glabrous, pink-red, 15-50 cm high.
Leaves are in a basal dense rosette (wintering under the snow), dark green, which redden by autumn, with an almost rounded blade and a membranous sheath remaining up to two to three years. The leaf blade is broadly elliptical or almost rounded, rounded or chordate at the base, obtuse or indistinctly dentate, 3–35 cm long, 2.5–30 cm wide, on wide petioles not exceeding the length of the plate, equipped at the base with.
It is a widely-grown garden plant; cultivars include Bergenia cordifolia ‘Purpurea’, Bergenia cordifolia ‘Winterglut’, Bergenia cordifolia ‘Senior’, and Bergenia crassifolia ‘Autumn Red’. It mainly reproduces vegetatively (by segments of rhizomes), but reproduction by seeds is not excluded. As an ornamental plant, it has been known in culture since the middle of the 18th century, it is used for landscaping, in stone gardens, arrays of shrubs and trees. Gardeners bred several forms with flowers of various colors. The plant prefers semi-shady and shady places with moderately dry, fertile soil. Propagated by dividing the bush in the fall.
Edible Uses: Bergenia crassifolia is used as a tea substitute in its native Siberia, Altay and Mongolia.
The medicinal properties of the plant have long been used in Russian folk medicine, as well as in the medicine of Tibet and China. Aqueous extracts of rhizome and leaves inside are used for colitis and enterocolitis of a non-infectious nature, tuberculosis, acute and chronic pneumonia, pulmonary haemorrhage, influenza and some other infections, laryngitis, headaches, fevers, articular rheumatism and gastrointestinal diseases
For medicinal purposes, rhizomes are used, which are collected by hand, cleaned and washed in cold running water. Large rhizomes are cut into long pieces. After preliminary drying, they are dried in the shade or in a well-ventilated area, laid out in a layer of 5 cm on paper or fabric.
Leaves are used much less often. It is used in tanning sole and Russian leather, as well as the impregnation of nets and tarpaulins . The raw materials collected high in the mountains contain more tannides than in the low mountains.
A useful ground cover plant though rather slow to spread. It forms a clump. Tannin is obtained from the bark. The roots contain 15 – 22% tannin, exceptionally 26%. The leaves and stems contain 17 – 25% tannin.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.