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Platycodon grandiflorus - (Jacq.)A.DC.

Common Name Balloon Flower
Family Campanulaceae
USDA hardiness 4-9
Known Hazards The root is poisonous[116]. The older, basal leaves are also said to be slightly toxic[179]. If these reports are true then this is an exceptional species in a family that is generally free of toxins and often used for food[K].
Habitats Grassy slopes in hills and mountains all over Japan[58].
Range E. Asia - China, Japan, Korea, Manchuria.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Platycodon grandiflorus Balloon Flower

Platycodon grandiflorus Balloon Flower


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Bloom Color: Blue. Main Bloom Time: Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Platycodon grandiflorus is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
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 can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Campanula glauca. Thunb. C. grandiflora.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root
Edible Uses: Condiment

Young leaves - cooked[177]. The radical leaves are said to be slightly toxic so only the top leaves should be used. Old leaves are powdered and used as a flavouring. Root - cooked[177]. Eaten in soups as a tonic vegetable[238]. It is also peeled and pickled or preserved in sugar[218]. A nutritional analysis is available[218].

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Root (Dry weight)
  • 379 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 3.2g; Fat: 1.2g; Carbohydrate: 93.7g; Fibre: 11.7g; Ash: 2g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 306mg; Phosphorus: 249mg; Iron: 8.2mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.13mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.47mg; Niacin: 10.3mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:

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.
Anthelmintic  Anticholesterolemic  Antiphlogistic  Antitussive  Astringent  Expectorant  Haemolytic  Hypoglycaemic  
Sedative  Stomachic  Tonic

This species has a history of herbal use in China going back over 2,000 years and modern clinical tests have demonstrated its efficacy[218, 238]. It is widely used there in patent remedies and is also made into cough tablets[238]. The root contains saponins and is anthelmintic, antiasthmatic, anticholesterolemic, antiphlogistic, antitussive, astringent, carminative, expectorant, haemolytic, hypoglycaemic, sedative, stomachic, tonic and vermifuge. It lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels in the liver and inhibits the release of histamine[116, 147, 174, 176, 178, 218, 238, 279]. It is used internally in the treatment of coughs with profuse phlegm, colds, bronchitis, pleurisy, pulmonary abscesses and throat infections[176, 238]. It is also used to treat hypertension and diabetes in Korea[279]. The root of plants 2 - 3 years old are harvested in the spring or autumn, peeled and used fresh or dried[238].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Rock garden, Specimen. An easily grown plant, it succeeds in any good well-drained garden soil but prefers a light more or less sandy soil in a sunny position or light dappled shade[200]. Plants are hardy to about -15°c[200]. Another report says it is hardy to -20°c[187]. A very ornamental and long-lived plant[1, 233], there are several named forms[238]. It is cultivated, especially in China, as a medicinal plant[61, 238]. This species has brittle roots and strongly resents root disturbance. It should be planted out in its permanent position as soon as possible, and preferably when dormant in the winter[111, 238]. Special Features: Suitable for cut flowers. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 9 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a clumper with limited spread [1-2]. The root pattern is a tap root similar to a carrot going directly down [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame[111]. Free and quick germination[K]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the winter when the plants are dormant[238, K]. Basal cuttings of non-flowering shoots in spring, preferably with a piece of root attached[188]. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

TEMPERATE ASIA: Amur, Anhui Sheng, China, Eastern Siberia, Fujian Sheng, Guangdong Sheng, Guangxi Zhuangzu Zizhiqu (north), Guizhou Sheng, Hebei Sheng, Heilongjiang Sheng, Henan Sheng, Hokkaidô, Honshu, Hubei Sheng, Hunan Sheng, Japan, Jiangsu Sheng, Jiangxi Sheng, Jilin Sheng, Korea, Kyushu, Liaoning Sheng, Magadanskaja oblast, Nei Mongol Zizhiqu, Primorye, Russian Federation, Ryukyu Islands, Shaanxi Sheng, Shandong Sheng, Shanxi Sheng, Shikoku, Sichuan Sheng (east), Yunnan Sheng (southeast), Zhejiang Sheng,Russian Federation-Eastern Siberia.

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

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Readers comment

KR   Tue Aug 24 16:20:43 2004

"Doraji", Platycodon grandiflorum (FLORUM, not FLORUS) is grown as a root vegetable in Korea and is used in making Kimchee pickles, in salads, and even in candy. The recipes I have read suggest soaking, salting and thoroughly washing the prepared roots before use. This treatment is similar to the Japanese method for preparing "Fuki" (Petasites japonicus) where the salting draws out bitter alkaloids from the food. In a casual web search, I did not find any mention of toxic elements in doraji / Platycodon or any mention of what the bitter constituents could be.

Ruth Kelsen   Fri Aug 4 2006

How is this used as a medicine? Is the root used in a tea or infusion? Is the root eaten raw? What is the best method to use this plant for a cough, cold, or any upper respiratory infection? I have several plants in my garden and would like to know how to best benefit from their use, esp in lowering cholesterol..

Barb   Sat Feb 24 2007

How do you cook with dried platycodon. Do you boil it or just rinse it. Thanks for any help.

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Mon Feb 26 2007

I have no personal experience of using the dried plant, but my understanding is that it is added to soups - this is a very common practice in China where the concept of adding a variety of medicinal herbs to a soup is very common. As regards the earlier question of how the root is used medicinally, the root is dried and used as a decoction. You make sure the root is broken into small pieces then place about 20g of the dried herb in a saucepan, add 750ml of water and bring to the boil. Simmer until the quantity is reduced to about 500ml and leave to cool. This makes one days supply and is best drunk between meals in 3 – 4 doses. For those who are interested, the following gives more detailed information on the medicinal uses of the plant. BALLOON FLOWERcontains a number of medically active constituents, in particular triterpenoid saponins which have been shown in various trials to have a very effective expectorant action. Other constituents include plant sterols and inulin. The principle medicinal actions of the root can be summarized as follows:- It is a very effective expectorant. After oral intake, the saponins in the root stimulate the mucous membranes of the digestive tract causing a mild degree of nausea. This causes a reflex action in the bronchi, which secrete more mucus thus making the catarrh much more thin and watery and therefore easier to spit or cough out. It dilates the bronchial vessels. It lowers blood sugar levels. It lowers cholesterol levels in the liver. It has antimicrobial action, in particular it has been shown to inhibit a range of bacterial and fungal infections. BALLOON FLOWERhas its main action upon the respiratory system, where it promotes the removal of catarrh and opens up the airways to ease breathing. It is used primarily in the treatment of respiratory tract infections, particularly where there is profuse catarrh. Thus it is prescribed in the treatment of conditions such as colds, bronchitis, pleurisy, pulmonary abscesses and throat infections. Where a cough is diagnosed ‘wind-cold’, the Chinese combine BALLOON FLOWERwith APRICOT SEED (Prunus armeniaca), SHISO LEAF (Perilla frutescens) and TANGERINE PEEL (Citrus reticulata). Where the cough is diagnosed ‘wind-heat’, it is combined with MULBERRY LEAF (Morus alba), APRICOT SEED (Prunus armeniaca) and SNAKE GOURD FRUIT (Trichosanthes kirilowii). When treating sore throats and hoarse voice, the root is combined with XUAN SHEN (Scrophularia ningpoensis), GAN CAO (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) and BURDOCK FRUITS (Arctium lappa). When treating lung abscesses, with symptoms such as a cough with blood or pus, yellow and offensive smelling sputum and chest pain, the root is combined with YU XING CAO (Houttuynia cordata), WAX GOURD (Benincasa hispida) and SNAKE GOURD FRUIT (Trichosanthes kirilowii).

narf   Fri Jan 11 2008

I had childhood asthma and was given doraji either as diced chunks in honey (fresh) or tea form. As beneficial as it was, i stopped the treatment because I couldn't stand the taste of bitter root mixed with honey. Which also triggered a gag reflex for the tea.But as I got older I've been boiling dried root for tea when sick and it truly does help. One thing I've heard, but could be an old wives tale was consistent consumption of this root on a daily basis for 3 months can "cure" asthma. I never lasted that long, but I actually wouldn't be suprised if it worked to some extent. In terms of the korean side dish, I don't know how it's prepared. But the tea, clean and peel lightly and boil in a pot. It should give off a slightly sweet smell when done.

Thankful   Tue Mar 10 2009

I had never heard of this flower until my Korean teacher found out I had asthma and said he knew of a plant that would help me and would make some for me. The next day in class he gave me the herb and told me to mix it with some honey tea each day which I have done now for the past month. I mix it with my rasberry honey tea. I've not had one asthma attach since, in fact, I haven't even had to use my inhailer since I've started drinking the tea. I'm forever thankful to him. I wished I'd known about this plant years ago.

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