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Gynostemma pentaphyllum - (Thunb.)Makino.

Common Name Sweet Tea Vine
Family Cucurbitaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Thickets in open forests in lowland all over Japan[58, 275]. Forest, thickets or road sides on mountain slopes at elevations of 300 - 3200 metres in China[266].
Range E. Asia - China, Japan, Korea.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (5 of 5)
Care (info)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Gynostemma pentaphyllum Sweet Tea Vine

Gynostemma pentaphyllum Sweet Tea Vine


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Gynostemma pentaphyllum is a ANNUAL/PERENNIAL growing to 8 m (26ft 3in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 8. It is in leaf from May to October, in flower from July to August. 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). and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) 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.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses: Tea

Leaves and young stems - cooked[105, 177, 183]. The leaves have a sweet taste and are used as a tea[105, 177, 183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

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Alterative  Anticholesterolemic  Antispasmodic  Hepatic  Hypoglycaemic  Sedative  Tonic

The whole plant is a tonic herb that improves the circulation, stimulates liver function, strengthens the immune and nervous systems, and reduces blood sugar and cholesterol levels[238]. It also has sedative effects, relieving spasms and lowering the blood pressure[238]. It is used internally in the treatment of nervous tension and exhaustion, peptic ulcer, asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer[238]. It was rated among the ten most important tonic herbs at a conference on traditional medicines in Beijing in 1991[238].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


The plant is used in proprietary preparations for cosmetics and anti-ageing tonics[238].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Requires a rich well-drained but moisture-retentive soil in a warm sheltered position in partial shade[238]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c[200]. A problematic crop outdoors in Britain, it can be grown successfully as an annual in a greenhouse but requires a long hot summer if it is to do well outdoors. Plants tend to be annuals or short-lived perennials[238]. A climbing plant, attaching itself to supports by means of tendrils[238]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Some plants might be monoecious[200].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow it in spring in a rich compost in a greenhouse, placing 2 - 3 seeds per pot. Thin the seedlings to the strongest in each pot and grow the plants on fast. Plant them out after the last expected frosts and protect them with a frame or cloche until they are growing away well.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Rich   Tue Oct 23 08:52:57 2001

Michael Blumert has written an intresting book Jiaogulan: China's "Immortality" Herb about the herb which goes into details of its history, its theraputic qualities, it chemical makeup and botanical information. You can read more at his website.

erik   Sat Mar 11 2006

you spelled the link to the jiaogulan website wrong; should be www.jiaogulan.net not www.jiagulan.net

Maria Jensen   Sat Jul 22 2006

What does the planr Gynostemma look like?

Rose   Fri May 4 2007

Where can you buy the seeds for sweet tea vine (gospel herb)(gynostemma pentaphyllum)

Ed   Wed Aug 1 2007

I feel a ki force in this plant stronger than ginseng. I intend to grow it commercially because I see a future market.

phil   Tue Aug 7 2007

herb edu neat

Linda   Wed Sep 12 2007

Wher can I buy Gynostemma seeds?

Crystal   Tue Jan 15 2008

You can purchase the seed from Horizon Herbs. The vine has lovely leaves and the flowers are very insignificant.

richo cech   Sun Mar 16 2008

I really enjoy the language used on this page in describing propagation of Gynostemma pentaphyllum (jiao-gu-lan). I might add that the plant is an herbaceous perennial surviving through the winter in a zone 7, especially when given part shade and fast-draining soil. Cultivation by root cutting/division is really very easy. I've had plants escape down into the river gravel on the floor of our greenhouse and run for meters, sending up shoots anyplace they choose. In this situation, one has to merely snip off the runner with the shoot attached and replant. There's a thorough writeup on harvest, processing and medicinal use of this plant in my book "Making Plant Medicine." There's availability of the seeds and plants (organically grown and certified) at my website horizonherbs.com. I'd like to extgend my appreciation to the principals of "Plants for a Future" for such a great horticulturally oriented compendium of plants. Richo Cech

Horizon Herbs, LLC

   Aug 22 2017 12:00AM

How to know if a plant is male or female?

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