Botanical Name: Astragalus sinicus
Species: A. sinicus
*Astragalus lotoides Lam.
*Astragalus sinicus Thunb.
*Tragacantha sinica (L.) Kuntze
Common Names: Chinese Milk Vetch
Habitat:Astragalus sinicus is native to E. Asia – China. It is naturalized in Japan where it grows around paddy fields. Meadows at elevations of 50 – 1800 metres, widespread in subtropical areas of China.
Astragalus sinicus is a binnial plant, growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in). It is in flower from April to July, and the seeds ripen from June to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies).
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it could succeed outdoors in many parts of this country. This species used to be cultivated for its edible leaves in China, it is cultivated as a soil improver and green manure in Japan. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus. Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best planted in their final positions whilst still small. 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. Many members of this genus can be difficult to grow, this may be due partly to a lack of their specific bacterial associations in the soil.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate. Stored seed, and perhaps also fresh seed, should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in hot water before sowing – but make sure that you do not cook the seed. Any seed that does not swell should be carefully pricked with a needle, taking care not to damage the embryo, and re-soaked for a further 24 hours. Germination can be slow and erratic but is usually within 4 – 9 weeks or more at 13°c if the seed is treated or sown fresh. As soon as it is large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Edible Uses: Young leaves are cooked and eaten. The seed contains 36.6% protein and 5.3% fat
Medicinalk Uses: The plant is used in the treatment of blennorrhoea and also as an unguent for burns.
Other Uses: This species is grown as a green manure crop in Japan and southern China.
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.