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Eleutherococcus senticosus - (Rupr.&Maxim.)Maxim.

Common Name Siberian Ginseng
Family Araliaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards Caution if high blood pressure. Avoid coffee. 6 weeks maximum use. Avoid during pregnancy. Unsuitable for children. High doses may cause drowsiness, anxiety, irritability, mastalgia and uterine bleeding. Possible blood pressure increases and irregular heart beats. Effects of antidiabetic drugs, sedatives and anticoagulants may be potentiated [301]
Habitats Mixed and coniferous mountain forests, forming small undergrowth or groups in thickets and edges. Sometimes found in oak groves at the foot of cliffs, very rarely in high forest riparian woodland[74].
Range E. Asia - China, Japan, Siberia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (5 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Eleutherococcus senticosus Siberian Ginseng

Eleutherococcus senticosus Siberian Ginseng


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Eleutherococcus senticosus is a deciduous Shrub growing to 2 m (6ft 7in) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 3. It is in flower in July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor 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. It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Acanthopanax asperatus. Acanthopanax senticosus. Eleutherococcus asperatus. Hedera senticosa


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses: Tea

Young leaves and buds - cooked[105, 177]. The dried leaves are used as a tea substitute[105, 177].

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.
Adaptogen  Antiinflammatory  Hypoglycaemic  Tonic  Vasodilator

Siberian ginseng is a powerful tonic herb with an impressive range of health benefits. Unlike many herbs with a medicinal use, it is more useful for maintaining good health rather than treating ill health. Research has shown that it stimulates resistance to stress and so it is now widely used as a tonic in times of stress and pressure[254]. This plant is a very commonly used folk treatment in China and Russia where it is used as a ginseng substitute[218]. It is a pungent bitter-sweet warming herb that is said to be stronger in its action than ginseng[238]. Regular use is said to restore vigour, improve the memory and increase longevity[218]. The root and the root bark are adaptogen, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycaemic, tonic and vasodilator. It is taken internally during convalescence and in the treatment of menopausal problems, geriatric debility, physical and mental stress etc[238]. It works by strengthening the bodies natural immune system[140, 165, 176, 238]. It has also been used to combat radiation sickness and exposure to toxic chemicals[200, 218, 238]. This herb is not prescribed for children, and should not be used for more than 3 weeks at one time[238]. Caffeine should not be taken when using this herb[238]. The roots are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[238]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Eleutherococcus senticosus for tendency to infection, lack of stamina (see [302] for critics of commission E).

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a light warm open loamy humus-rich soil and a position sheltered from north and east winds[11, 200]. Prefers a well-drained soil and full sun[200]. (A surprising report, this species is a woodland plant and we would expect it to prefer shade[K]) Tolerates urban pollution and poor soils[200]. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c if they are sheltered from cold winds[200]. A highly polymorphic species[74]. Siberian ginseng is cultivated as a medicinal plant in Russia and China[140].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame[200]. It can be slow to germinate. Stored seed requires 6 months warm followed by 3 months cold stratification[113] and can be very slow to germinate[133]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse for at least the first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[113, 200]. Cuttings of ripe wood of the current season's growth, 15 - 30cm long in a cold frame[238]. Root cuttings in late winter[200]. Division of suckers in the dormant season[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

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
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Eleutherococcus innovansTaka-No-TsumeTree6.0 6-9  LMHNM10 
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Eleutherococcus sieboldianusUkogi, Five Leafed AraliaShrub3.0 4-8 SLMHSNM302
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Eleutherococcus trifoliatus Shrub6.0 6-9  LMHSNM11 

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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Readers comment

   Thu Sep 21 2006

why should caffeine not be taken with this herb?? i've been looking and can't find out why. if anyone knows, please e-mail me at [email protected]. (the energy drink Rockstar has this herb and caffeine in it) thanks.

Bob Maljaars   Mon Oct 23 2006

We are interested in growing this plant and developing adaptogens. CAn you point us in the right direction?

david nicholls   Mon Mar 26 2007

Ref caffine & Eleutherococcus. I am also very interested to know about this supposed incompatability. It is in some health tablets I am taking and I drink loads of coffee, they say nothing about contra-indictations on the pack, thought they would to avoid being sued or worse if there was a problem. I've not noticed any ill effect. This would be a serious problem for the plant if there is a problem since caffine is the official religion of the west.

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Mon Mar 26 2007

As far as I understand it, the main problem with using caffeine at the same time as taking this herb is beacuse the caffeine reduces the effect of Siberian Ginseng. The reports I have read do not explain why this should be, but looking at the scientific work on Siberian Ginseng, there is quite a lot of recent evidence that the plant has a sedative action on the central nervous system. If this is part of its overall medicinal effect upon the body, then caffeine will directly counteract it since it acts as a stimulant upon the CNS. This is conjecture upon my part, since I have found no reports of this. However, it does seem a distinct possibility.

david nicholls   Mon Mar 26 2007

Ref caffine & Eleutherococcus. I am also very interested to know about this supposed incompatability. It is in some health tablets I am taking and I drink loads of coffee, they say nothing about contra-indictations on the pack, though they would to avoid being sued or worse if there was a problem. I've not noticed any ill effect. This would be a serious problem for the plant if there is a problem since caffine is the official religion of the west.

Andreda   Thu Apr 26 2007

Why should this her not be taken for longer than three weeks? And does that apply when it is used in a mxture of herbs or liquid drink?

rachel murphy   Wed Jan 23 2008

Message for Bob Maljaars - I'm going to try embarking on growing some adaptogens this year, inc. Eleutherococcus senticosus. Have you had any luck??

Gabriel Dürr   Sun Jan 25 2009

Hello I have read that Eleutherococcus senticosus got very taste berries that are very rich in vitamin C... You should include the berries in the edibility section. Thanks! Gabriel

Gabriel Dürr   Mon Jan 26 2009

Berries are edible and healthy. Or are they poisonous? If so, please declare that clearly.

Gabriel Dürr   Mon Jan 26 2009

You're still not sleeping?? You could also send me an email or simply put "fruit" into the "edible use" list. Greetings! Gabriel from Switzerland, and: sleep well now as time it would be!

Dennis   Thu Dec 31 2009

The reason why it should not be used for longer than 3 weeks at a time, is because it can be quite stimulating ( although not as much as Ginseng ). People can feel a little excitable after a period of time. This is particularly noticeable when you are using good quality tinctures ( ie - Mediherb - AUstralia ) This is also another reason why you should not use caffeine with it. Not everything about herbs is going to be evidence based, and a lot is still anecdotal amongst herbalists and Naturopaths. But I am a praticing Naturopath, and have observed these things.

   Sep 15 2013 12:00AM

Siberian Ginseng with caffeine may increases stimulation, and as a result can be hypertension and hyperactive based on conclusion of one clinical study, maybe. One study, two years lasting study where to give ginseng 3 - 15 grams daily to 133 psychiatric patients and other drugs such caffeine. This study, 26 out of 133 patients developed hypertension and other problems. But this study was not reliable and it was criticized various reason. Caffeine is known to raise systolic and diastolic pressure in acute use and chronic use of caffeine increase risk to get hypertension. Too much is too much in everything.

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