China root scientifically known as 'Smilax china' has been used for ages in numerous tribal and folk medicine for a large number of health issues. China root or Chobchini is hailed as a wonder medicine in Ayurveda and Unani too. The plant is native to China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan (including Ryukyu and Bonin Islands), Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Assam. Root or rhizome of Smilax is used in herbal formulations in several parts of the world. China cultivates this drug in large amount and for most of the countries it is exported from there. Hence it is usually recognized as China Root.
Smilax china is evergreen and deciduous shrub that grows about 10mt in height. Green leaves of this plant are heart shaped varying in size from 5-30cm in different species. Flowers are joined together to form a cluster and white green in colour.
Smilax china is a deciduous Climber growing to 4.5 m (14ft 9in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). . The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
The root is alterative, antiscrophulatic, carminative, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic and tonic. It is considered useful when taken internally in the treatment of old syphilitic cases and is also used for certain skin diseases, including psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, enteritis, urinary tract infections, skin ulcers etc. Large doses can cause nausea and vomiting, which is valuable in weakened and depraved conditions due to a poisoned state of the blood. The root is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use.