Baical Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis )
(Skullcap, Baical) (Huang-qin)
Herbaceous perennial. Native to the shores of Lake Baikal, Mongolia, Siberia, and the Chihli and Shantung provinces of China. The purple flowers are like schools of dolphin breaking through green waves in a summer sea. The part used in traditional Chinese medicine is the dried root, which has a bitter and cold energetic. Contains distinctive flavones, specifically baicalin and wogonin, which have antiallergic, diuretic, hypotensive, antibacterial, antiviral, tranquilizing and fever-reducing effects. In practical terms, it is one of the best agents for cooling an infection, and I recommend it especially for people who are travelling and may contract dysentery--it cures the shits. This is one of the best Chinese plants to grow organically in America. Not only is it a very striking bedding plant, bearing one of the nicest flowers available from this catalog, but there is on-going demand for the root, which attains harvestable size after only 2 years. Cultivation: Easy. Sow seed in early spring. Germ. in ~24 days. Prefers well-drained soil in the full sun. Cold hardy. Space plants 12 inches apart. To 12 inches tall. As the plants age they become wider, much like humans in middle age, but unlike humans, the seed they produce becomes increasingly viable the older they get.
Organically grown 50 seeds/pkt.
Note: Actually, I'm pretty excited about Baical Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) for treatment of pandemic diseases such as avian flu. My experience is that the root of this plant, which has been used in Chinese medicine for a very long time as the herb Huang-qin, is extremely effective for treating contagious flu-like maladies. There is really no better anti-infection agent in herbalism, to my knowledge. The herb is more effective if grown in poor, sandy soil. Added advantages of Huang-qin are 1) lack of side-effects, 2) quick to germinate and easily grown throughout the temperate US 4) pretty 5) and can be harvested in the fall of first or (better) second year 6) no side effects. Here's a picture of the freshly harvested root--extremely potent as you can probably tell.
Germination Note: I tested commercial seed I got from China against our organic seed and the chinese seed gave 30% germ and the organic seed gave 95% germ. The organic seed came up in 10 days and the commercial seed came up in 12 days. The organic seed was more vigorous than the commercial seed. RAC
Text from a small article written by Richo that appeared in the AHA Quarterly:
The Chinese herb Baical Skullcap, known in Chinese as Huang-qin (Scutellaria
baicalensis) has a history of medicinal usage dating back over 2,000 years.
The bright yellow roots of this pretty perennial herb are used traditionally
to abate diarrhea and dysentery and to enhance liver function in the
treatment of hepatitis. They are also an active antibacterial treatment for
Staph (Staphylococcus aureus) infection, which is a major cause of secondary
infections in hospitals in the US. In Traditional Chinese Medicine,
practitioners use Huang-qin as frequently as Westerners use Goldenseal. Many
Westerners have yet to appreciate Huang-qin to the extent that it deserves.
An added bonus is that the herb is well suited to cultivation in the western
states, thriving in gardens all the way from Washington down to Southern
California. Relatively easy to start from seed in the spring, the plants
prefer a full sun position and deep, dry, well-drained soils. The flowers
appear for the first time in the fall of the first year, and after that the
plant flowers copiously every summer, producing heady blue or purple blooms
for as long as three months before the blossoms give way to the
characteristically hooded seed capsules. Baical skullcap is a low-lying
bedding plant, excellent for high-use areas such as next to pathways. After
the third year of growth, the roots may be dug and dried for medicinal use.
No fancy processing is necessary. The roots can be sliced into sections
while fresh and dried in the shade, then made into tincture or tea. Good
quality roots are bright yellow, not green or black. Any herb that looks
that good in the garden and treats the formidable adversaries hepatitis and
staph deserves plenty of attention!