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Schisandra chinensis, Magnolia Vine, Five Flavoured Fruit, Wu Wei Zi

£1.79

Given a suitable site, Schisandra chinensis is an ideal candidate for forest gardening.

Fruit is juicy, delicate and thin skinned. Fruit harvest can begin 5 - 7 days before fully ripe when they are still hard and easier to pick. They ripen quickly after harvest. Good quality fruit is considered to be large with thick, purplish red, fleshy and oily pulp and an intense aroma.

S. chinensis, known as Wu Wei Zi in the Chinese pharmacopeia, is considered to be one of the 50 fundamental herbs of traditional Chinese medicine. It is considered to be perfectly balanced as the fruit possesses all five flavours of Chinese medicine: acrid/pungent, sweet, bitter, sour, and salty.

Seed can be sown in autumn. Some sources recommend exposing seed sown in nursery trays to the winter elements (except in high winter rain fall areas), expecting germination in the spring, or cold stratifying the seed in a refgrigerator for 3 months and sowing in the spring. Other sources recommend keeping autumn sown seed in a cold frame or pre-soaking stored seed for 12 hours in warm water and sowing in a greenhouse in the spring.

When true leaves appear transplant starts to their own pots and grow for a year or two before planting out.

Soils should be rich and well-drained yet moisture retentive. Prefers a slightly acid soil but tolerates some alkalinity if plenty of organic matter is added to the soil. Prefers light to deep shade and requires some protection from the most intense sunlight. Vines can become heavy, so provide a sturdy trellis or strong tree for them to climb. Plants will also happily scramble over rocks, walls etc.

The fully dormant plant is hardy to about -17°c, though the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. Prune in late winter or spring.

 Edible uses

The fruits of S. chinensis are rich in sugars, high in vitamin C and have a sweet/sour flavour. In Russia a paste made from the fruit is mixed with Actinidia arguta in order to counteract the insufficient acidity of that species.

Fruits of S. chinensis are traditionally dried for use as a snack food. The flavour of dried fruits diminshes quickly with age and dried fruits should be stored no longer than one year.

Fruit is also eaten fresh.

Fruits are about the size of red currants - 6mm in diameter - and borne in grape-like bunches about 10cm long. The fruits are delicate, thin skinned with juicy flesh, and contain 1 or 2 hard seeds. Fruits can be harvested 5 - 7 days before full ripeness, when still hard and thus eaiser to pick. They ripen quickly after harvest.

In Russia, pasteurised juice is used to make wines and soft drinks and the juice and flesh are used in confectionary.

Young leaves are boiled and eaten as a vegetable.

Contraindications: S. chinensis increases the flow of bile, individuals with gallstones or blocakges of the bile ducts should not use this herb. It also stimulates the uterus and induces labour, so should be avoided during pregnancy.

http://practicalplants.org/wiki/Schisandra_chinensis

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