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Schisandra chinensis - (Turcz.)Baill.

Common Name Magnolia Vine, Wu Wei Zi
Family Schisandraceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Mixed forests, especially on the margins, also by streams and brooks, usually on sandy soils[74].
Range E. Asia - China, Japan, Korea.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (5 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Schisandra chinensis Magnolia Vine, Wu Wei Zi

Schisandra chinensis Magnolia Vine, Wu Wei Zi


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of climber
Schisandra chinensis is a deciduous Climber growing to 9 m (29ft 6in) 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 April to May, and the seeds ripen from August to 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 and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


S. japonica. Kadsura chinensis. Maximowiczia chinensis. Sphaerostema japonicum.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; North Wall. By. East Wall. By.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves
Edible Uses: Gum

Fruit - raw or cooked[183]. Usually dried and used on journeys, it is very sustaining[74]. Rich in sugars[74], it has a sweet/sour flavour[178]. In Russia a paste made from the fruit is mixed with Actinidia arguta in order to counteract the insufficient acidity of that species[183]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter and is borne in a grape-like bunch about 10cm long[200]. Young leaves - cooked and used as a vegetable[105, 177, 183].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.
Antirheumatic  Antitussive  Aphrodisiac  Astringent  Cancer  Cardiotonic  Cholagogue  Dysentery  
Expectorant  Hepatic  Lenitive  Nervine  Pectoral  Sedative  Stimulant  
Tonic  Urinary

Wu Wei Zi is commonly used in Chinese herbalism, where it is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs[218]. It is an excellent tonic and restorative, helping in stressful times and increasing zest for life[254]. It is considered to be a substitute for ginseng and is said to be a tonic for both the male and the female sex organs[238]. The fruit is antitussive, aphrodisiac, hepatic, astringent, cardiotonic, cholagogue, expectorant, hypotensive, lenitive, nervine, pectoral, sedative, stimulant and tonic[174, 176, 178, 218]. Low doses of the fruit are said to stimulate the central nervous system whilst large doses depress it[218]. The fruit also regulates the cardiovascular system[218]. It is taken internally in the treatment of dry coughs, asthma, night sweats, urinary disorders, involuntary ejaculation, chronic diarrhoea, palpitations, insomnia, poor memory, hyperacidity, hepatitis and diabetes[238]. Externally, it is used to treat irritating and allergic skin conditions[238]. The fruit is harvested after the first frosts and sun-dried for later use[238]. The fruit contains lignans[254]. These have a pronounced protective action on the liver. In one clinical trial there was a 76% success rate in treating patients with hepatitis, no side effects were noticed[254]. The seed is used in the treatment of cancer[218]. The plant is antirheumatic[218]. A mucilaginous decoction obtained from the branches is useful in the treatment of coughs, dysentery and gonorrhoea[218].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Gum  Hair  Size  Wood

A viscid mucoid material is obtained from the fruit and the branches, it is used as a size for paper and as a hair dressing[178]. The dried wood is charmingly fragrant[11].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a rich well-drained moisture retentive soil[11, 200]. Prefers a slightly acid soil but tolerates some alkalinity if plenty of organic matter is added to the soil[200]. Requires some protection from the most intense sunlight[200]. Plants succeed in quite deep shade and are suitable for north-facing walls[219]. Plants are intolerant of drought[K]. The fully dormant plant is hardy to about -17°c, though the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. Plants climb by twining around supports. Any pruning is best carried out in the spring[219]. The flowers are sweetly scented[245]. The leaves are also aromatic[245]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 9 through 7. (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. Growth habit is a single or multiple shooting vine from a crown [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown in the autumn in a cold frame[200, 238]. Pre-soak stored seed for 12 hours in warm water and sow in a greenhouse in the spring[238]. Germination can be slow and erratic. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for their first 2 years. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, August in a frame. Overwinter in the greenhouse and plant out in late spring[11, 78]. Good percentage[78]. Layering of long shoots in the autumn[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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
Kadsura coccinea Climber0.0 -  LMHSNM21 
Kadsura heteroclita Climber10.0 -  LMHSNM20 
Kadsura japonica Climber3.5 6-9  LMHSNM21 
Kadsura longepedunculata Climber3.5 -  LMHSNM22 
Kadsura oblongifolia Climber0.0 -  LMHSNM20 
Schisandra grandiflora Climber6.0 7-10  LMHSM40 
Schisandra henryi Climber6.0 7-10  LMHFSM30 
Schisandra repanda Climber6.0 6-9  LMHSM20 
Schisandra rubriflora Climber6.0 7-10 MLMHSM40 
Schisandra sphenanthera Climber7.0 6-9 MLMHFSM25 

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

William Bruneau   Mon Nov 20 2006

I have been using Schisandra for about a year. I find it a very good general tonic rivalling ginseng. The particular values I have noticed are improved concentration (it has improved my go game significantly), reaction time, and as a male sex tonic.

D. Brown   Sun May 6 2007

"http://www.onegreenworld.com//product_info.php?cPath=6_157&products_id=2112" One Green World Nursery (in Oregon, USA) There IS a self-fertile variety of this vine, called Eastern Prince.

Werner Rettig   Sat Mar 31 2007

My brother in Germany told me about Wu Wei Zi,he said he saw it in Poetschke's catalog where they have plants for sale. From what I have been reading this is a plant that schould be in every garden. I live in BC Canada and have been unable to find a source so far. Is there anybody out there that can help? Hopfully Werner Rettig

manavella philippe   Wed Sep 19 2007

hello I would like to buy a schisandra chinensis eastern prince but it is very difficult to find. I live on the french riviera, in Toulon, and I 'd prefer to buy one in a European nursery. Do you have addresses ? Anyway,I would like to tell you that your web site is a gold mine for botanic "amateurs". Each time we have something to buy, we consult your advices. Thank you very much Philippe Manavella

M. Piehl   Sun Feb 10 2008

I have grown it many yrs in W. Va., zone 6, and have seen it in Wis., zone 4, USA. I could supply a few plants picked up at place, W. Va. Seed forms well, but not recommended for propagation. Is deciduous in winter. Mine are field grown, not in containers.

Bruce Van Tassell   Wed Jan 23 2008

I also live in BC Canada in the Southern Interior and very interested in the Eastern Prince would it grow here and is it available in BC that you may know of. Read the other E mail asking for the black prince did they have any luck finding and or growing. I can provide the woodland setting for it. Thank you

kate   Fri Feb 8 2008

why not add some pictures of those flowers? I appreciate that.

christine Hindle   Sun Feb 24 2008

I live in South England and would like to plant a Schisandra chinensis against the North facing wall of my garden. Where can I buy such a plant? I am too impatient to grow from seeds. Thank you Christine Hindle

kenneth Su   Thu Mar 20 2008

I live in Thailand and would love to buy some of these plants or seeds for personal consumption. Can anyone please advise where I can obtain them? Kenneth

Trent   Sun Apr 13 2008

You can get seeds for Schisandra chinensis from Richters Herbs in Ontario - www.richters.com. They don't always have them, but keep on trying. There is also advice for germinating them in the Q & A section of the website. Bottom line is you need to deal with the hard seed coat eitehr with acid, or maybe try delicately scarifying the seed coat, or knicking a bit off. I am experimenting presently with germiantion, after buying 100 grams of seeds, and will try to let you know how my experiments go. 90 days of cold stratification will also help, or leaving them outside over a winter or two, dug into the ground in flats.

Richters Herbs Schisandra seed source

Linda Nunis   Thu Jun 5 2008

I have just started some Schisandra seeds and am hopeful that they will sprout. I live in zone 7 at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia, USA. I'll keep you posted on sprout and planting progress! Thanks for a great site! Linda N.

victor chou   Sat Nov 15 2008

we can supply schisandraberry ,both organic and conventional.

Emma Lee   Sun Nov 23 2008

To-Victor Chou, Do you have a link or how can we order these?

david n   Sun Nov 23 2008

B and T world Seeds are the worlds largest seed supplier, they have seed of this plant www.b-and-t-world-seeds.com I also found dried berries with seed in a Chinese Medicine Shop but couldn't get them to grow.

courtney breed   Sat Feb 14 2009

There is actually a self fertile variety of Schisandra the variety "Eastern Prince". Check out the One Green World Link below for more details. Happy planting!

One Green World a great mail order nursery in snowy Oregon, USA

Elizabeth   Thu Feb 26 2009

I live in South Korea where I have access to fresh Schisandra chinensis berries. They are used to make the famous Korean " omija" tea. Anyone interested in seeds, please drop me a line.

Kevin Song   Wed Mar 11 2009

Bioworld Organics owns the biggest Organic and GAP certified Schisandra Berry base in northeast China, which makes us to become the first bulk high quality organic schisandra berries supplier in China, to ensure the quality of the products, we have built up a series of strict Quality Control System in accordance with the organic production standards of EEC2092/2091 of EU, NOP of USA and JAS of Japan ranging from the planting, harvesting, processing, packaging, transportation to the sales, in the mean while, we also established other 6 organic herb bases all over the Country, all the bases enjoy fertile soil, unpolluted air and clean water - the ideal conditions for sustainable organic agriculture, these bases enables us to provide our clients with over 800 tons of more than 160 different organic products annually. [email protected]

www.Tradekey.com Supply High Quality Schisandra chinensis (Schisandra Berries)

Pete   Tue Jul 14 2009

Do try growing from seed if you can't source a cutting. I started some seed in February, in damp tissue in a plastic tray with a loose lid at room temp for a week, then in the fridge for two months, then into a heated propagator at around 20c until germination, this took another three to five weeks as germination was eratic. Ended up with 7 plants which are now 4 four to eight inches tall, under the cucumbers in the greenhouse. Lancashire (North West England).

kevin   Sat Aug 22 2009

I live in China and I can supply the high quality organic schisandra berries and seeds,please contact me: [email protected]

bioworld organics supply good quality schisandra berries

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