Thank you so much! We appreciate all your donations, big and small, which poured in during 2014. You gave our charity over £10,000 in response to our appeal, over ten times more than in 2013! This meant we did not need to dip into our dwindling reserves to keep the database and website going and free of charge for another year. In 2015 we will continue to depend on your donations, so please do keep them coming. More information on our financial position >>>
Search Page Content
   Bookmark and Share
    By donating to PFAF, you can help support and expand our activities
    Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

Astragalus membranaceus - Moench.                
Common Name Huang Qi
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
Synonyms Astragalus propinquus
Known Hazards Many members of this genus contain toxic glycosides[65]. All species with edible seedpods can be distinguished by their fleshy round or oval seedpod that looks somewhat like a greengage[85]. A number of species can also accumulate toxic levels of selenium when grown in soils that are relatively rich in that element[65]. Toxic doses may result in neuroligical dysfunction leading to paralysis [301]. Should be used cautiously in immunosuppressed patients [301].
Habitats Dry sandy soils[238]. Mountain thickets[279]. Steppes, meadows, xerophytic shrubs, coniferous forests; montane belt at altitudes of 800 - 2000 metres[266].
Range E. Asia - China, Mongolia and Siberia.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Full sun


Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Astragalus membranaceus is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.It can fix Nitrogen.

USDA hardiness zone : 5-9

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry soil.

Astragalus membranaceus Huang Qi
Astragalus membranaceus Huang Qi
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
None known
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Adaptogen;  Antibacterial;  Cancer;  Cardiotonic;  Diuretic;  Febrifuge;  Hypoglycaemic;  Hypotensive;  Pectoral;  Tonic;  Uterine tonic;  

Huang Qi is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs[218]. The root is a sweet tonic herb that stimulates the immune system and many organs of the body, whilst lowering blood pressure and blood sugar levels[238]. It is particularly suited to young, physically active people, increasing stamina and endurance and improving resistance to the cold - indeed for younger people it is perhaps superior to ginseng in this respect[254]. Huang Qi is used especially for treatment of the kidneys and also to avoid senility[218]. The plant is often used in conjunction with other herbs such as Atractylodes macrocephala and Ledebouriella seseloides[238]. The root contains a number of bio-active constituents including saponins and isoflavonoids[279]. It is adaptogen, antipyretic, diuretic, tonic, uterine stimulant and vasodilator[218, 254, 279]. It is used in the treatment of cancer, prolapse of the uterus or anus, abscesses and chronic ulcers, chronic nephritis with oedema and proteinuria[176, 218]. Recent research in the West has shown that the root can increase the production of interferon and macrophages and thus help restore normal immune function in cancer patients[254, 279]. Patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy recover faster and live longer if given Huang Qi concurrently[254]. The root of 4 year old plants is harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[238, 254]. The plant is antipyretic, diuretic, pectoral and tonic[218]. Extracts of the plant are bactericidal, hypoglycaemic and hypotensive[218]. Cardiotonic, vasodilator[176].HIV Infections [301].
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details                                         
Requires a dry well-drained soil in a sunny position[1]. Prefers a sandy slightly alkaline soil[238]. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c[238]. There is some disagreement over the correct name for this species, with several authorities seeing it as part of A. penduliflorus[261]. The Flora of China treats it as a sub-species of A. mongholicus, as A. mongholicus dahurica[266]. Plants are intolerant of root disturbance and are best planted in their final positions whilst still small[200]. 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[200]. 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[200].
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[200]. A period of cold stratification may help stored seed to germinate[200]. 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[134, 200]. 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[134, 200]. 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[134]. 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.
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[134]Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2.
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. An interesting article on Ensete ventricosum.
[176]Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas.
An excellent Chinese herbal giving information on over 500 species. Rather technical and probably best suited to the more accomplished user of herbs.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
[261]Yakovlev. G. Sytin. A. & Roskov. Yu. Legumes of Northern Eurasia
For the academic only, a list of species growing in N. Eurasia with terse details on habitat, range, uses etc.
[266] Flora of China
On-line version of the Flora - an excellent resource giving basic info on habitat and some uses.
[279] Medicinal Plants in the Republic of Korea
An excellent book with terse details about the medicinal uses of the plants with references to scientific trials. All plants are described, illustrated and brief details of habitats given.
[301]Karalliedde. L. and Gawarammana. I. Traditional Herbal Medicines
A guide to the safer use of herbal medicines.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
ayed Mon Feb 4 2008
please what is the active constituent,it's structur, please send me more information about this plant becase that treat cancer
Elizabeth H.
Yevon Zen/a.k.a Anthony Sat Oct 4 2008
I would like to find this plant. I need to grow alot of them.if you or anyone who see's this E-mail me at
Elizabeth H.
Jack Sweeney Sat Nov 22 2008

Oncology of Chinese Medicine Information about Chinese herbs

Elizabeth H.
laurie stiers Mon Sep 14 2009
Question: I believe some roots such as parsley or peony have stronger medicinal effects if left more than one year before harvest. Is this possibly also true for astragalus? thankyou, laurie stiers
Thomas G.
Jan 9 2012 12:00AM
This plant is one of the most important medicinal plants on the planet, IMHO. Seeds can be purchased through Horizon Herbs in Oregon (I have no financial connection). I have grown this plant, harvested this plant, processed it into medicine, used it as a medicine, used it in a variety of cooking (mostly soups) and consumed hundreds of kilos of it. Most of what is available on the market is cultivated, but I recently saw some wild-harvested roots at a herb market here in China. This is a highly regarded plant with abundant research. I have only one issue with this article and that is that the sources used, particularly Yueng Him-Che's book, are a little weak. I understand that this article was not meant to be exhaustive, I am only saying that it could be much better. Thanks so much for those involved in this project. My over-riding sense is that you all do a great job! Keep up the good work.
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.
Rate This Plant                                         
Please rate this plants for how successful you have found it to be. You will need to be logged in to do this. Our intention is not to create a list of 'popular' plants but rather to highlight plants that may be rare and unusual and that have been found to be useful by website users. This hopefully will encourage more people to use plants that they possibly would not have considered before.
Add a comment/link                                         

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

Subject : Astragalus membranaceus  

Links To add a link to another website with useful info add the details here
Name of Site
URL of Site