Introduction of Che Qian Zi:Plantain Seed or Semen Plantaginis.

TCM Herbalism:Medicinals and Classifications. ✵The article gives records of the herb Plantain Seed, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its herbal classic book defined botanical source two plant species, ①.Plantago asiatica L., ②.Plantago depressa Willd., and other one usable plant species, ③.Plantago major L., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of these three plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of these three plant species, the features of the herb Plantain Seed, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Semen Plantaginis(Plantain Seed).

dried brownish herb seeds of Semen Plantaginis Pin Yin Name: Chē Qián Zǐ.
 English Name: Plantain Seed.
 Latin Name: Semen Plantaginis.
 Property and flavor: warm, pungent, sweet.

 Brief introduction: The herb Semen Plantaginis is the dried ripe seed of Plantago asiatica L. or Plantago depressa Willd., used (1).to induce diuresis and filter out damp for treating watery diarrhea, edema and stranguria, (2).to clear the liver and improve vision in cases of eye diseases, and (3).to clear the lung and resolve phlegm for cases of cough with profuse phlegm. The herb is commonly known as Semen Plantaginis, Plantain Seed, Chē Qián Zǐ.

 Botanical source: Herbal classic book defined the herb Semen Plantaginis(Plantain Seed) as the dried ripe seed of the species (1). Plantago asiatica L., or (2). Plantago depressa Willd., other famous herbal classics defined the herb Semen Plantaginis(Plantain Seed) as the dried ripe seed of the species (1). Plantago asiatica L., or (2). Plantago depressa Willd., or (3). Plantago major L. They are plants of the Plantago genus, the Plantaginaceae family (plantain, ribwort family), the Lamiales order. These commonly used species are introduced:

(1).Plantago asiatica L.


 plants of Plantago asiatica L with green leaves and spikes grow in field Botanical description: Plantago asiatica L is a plant of Plantaginaceae family (plantain, ribwort family) and Plantago genus, it is commonly known as Che Qian. A perennial herbaceous plant, and the plant with scape (flower stalk) can grow up to 50 cm high. It has fibrous roots. Basal leaves, leaves have long petioles, as long as a leaf blade or longer, the base is enlarged; the leaf blade is oval (egg-shaped) or elliptic, 4~12 cm long, 2~7 cm wide, the apex is pointed or blunt, the base is narrowing to a long petiole, entire or has irregular undulated shallow teeth, usually has 5-7 arc veins.

 Several scapes (flower stalks), 12~50 cm high, angular, sparsely piliferous, spikes are 2/5-1/2 of scapes; flowers are pea green (pale green), each flower has 1 persistent flower bract, triangular; 4 calyxes, base is slightly connate, elliptic or oval (egg-shaped), persistent; Corolla is small, membranous, corolla tube is oval (egg-shaped), apex is 4-lobed, lobes are triangular, revolute (curls outward); 4 stamens, insert near to the base of the corolla tube, and alternate with corolla lobes, anthers are oblong, apex has triangular protrusions, filaments are linear; 1 pistil; ovary is superior, ovoid, 2-loculed (fake 4-loculed), 1 style, linear and piliferous.

 Capsularfruit is ovate conical, after maturing it is peripheral circumscissile around 2/5 lower part, underside 2/5 is persistent. 4~8 or 9 seeds, nearly elliptic, dark brown (black brown). Its flowering period is from June to September, the fruiting period is in October.

 a shrub of Plantago asiatica L with a spike grow in field Ecological environment: The plant grows in the mountains, roadsides, grassland, flowerbed and vegetable garden, ditch sides, riverbanks, wetland, or around the village, in areas at altitudes of 3~3,200 meters above sea level. The plant is distributed in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, the Zhujiang River area, northwest area, southwest area, Hainan, and Taiwan of China. It is also distributed in Nepal, Southeast Asia, the far east, and other regions of East Asia.

 Growth characteristics: Plantago asiatica has strong adaptability, it likes warm and moist climates, is tolerant to coldness and droughts, and can grow in mountainous regions, and hilly areas. The requirement in the soil is not strict, it can grow in general fields, field sides and corners, and the field around the house, it can grow well in sunny fields with fertile and moist sandy loam. The stems and leaves can grow normally in the temperature range of 20~24 °C (Celsius, or 68~75.2 degrees Fahrenheit), and when the temperature exceeds 32 °C (Celsius, or 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit) there will be slow growth, wither until the whole plant dies.

 dark brown dried Plantain Seeds are piled together Characters of herbs: The seeds are slightly elliptic or irregularly oblong, slightly flat, about 2 mm long, and 1 mm wide. The surface is pale brown or brown, slightly rough and uneven. A tiny and fine longitudinal striation is visible under a magnifying glass, and there is a faint yellow punctate hilum (concave spot hilum) in the middle of the slightly flat side. The texture of the herb is hard, and the surface of the cross-section is ash gray (grayish white). When the seeds are put into water, mucus is released from the outer skin (testa). The herb has a slight odor, it is sticky when chewed. The herb of a better grade has large grains, even and plump, and red brown.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.diuretic effect.

 Medicinal efficacy: Clear heat and diuretic, alleviate water retention, excreting dampness, treating stranguria, excreting dampness and relieve diarrhea, bright eyes, expectorant. It is indicated for edema and distension, urination obstruction, pyretic stranguria, stranguria with turbid discharge, morbid leukorrhea, hematuria (blood in the urine), heat dampness and diarrhea, diarrhea and dysentery, red eyes and swelling pain, nebula, phlegm heat with cough, cough with much phlegm, arthritis with fixed pain caused by dampness, etc.

 Administration of Semen Plantaginis (Chē Qián Zǐ): 
 
Reference: Administration Guide of Semen Plantaginis (Chē Qián Zǐ)
TCM Books: ①.Internally:9~15 grams,wrapped to decoct; ②.Internally:water decoction, 1.5~3 qian (about 4.5~9 grams), or prepare to pill,powder.Externally:wash with water decoction,or prepare to finely ground herb powder and apply; ③.Internally:water decoction, 5~15 grams, wrapped to decoct,prepared to pill, powder.Externally:proper amount,wash with water decoction,or prepare to finely ground herb powder and apply stick.

(2).Plantago depressa Willd.


 plants of Plantago depressa Willd with flowers spikes grow in field Botanical description: Plantago depressa Willd is a plant of Plantaginaceae (plantain family) family and Plantago genus, it is commonly known as Píng Chē Qián. Annual or biennial herb. Roots are straight and long, with many lateral roots, more or less succulent. Rhizomes are short. Leaves are basal and in a rosette-stape, procumbent, spread obliquely or upright; leaf blade is chartaceous (papery), elliptic, elliptic-lanceolate or ovate-lanceolate, 3~12 cm long, 1~3.5 cm wide, the apex is sharp-pointed or slightly blunt, the margin has undulated blunt teeth, irregular serrate or dentate, the base is broadly cuneate to narrowly cuneate, the base is decurrent to petiole, 5~7 leaf veins, the upper surface is slightly concave, and conspicuously protuberant on the back surface, both surfaces are sparsely white pubescent; petioles are 2~6 cm long, the base expands into a sheath.

 plants of Plantago depressa Willd. with flower spikes grow in field Inflorescences are 3~10 or over 10; peduncles are 5~18 cm long, has vertical stripes, sparsely white pubescent; spikes are thin cylindrical, upper part is dense, basal part is often disconnected, 6~12 cm long; flower bracts are triangular-ovate, 2~3.5 mm long, concave, glabrous, carina(keel pelals) is wide and thick, wider than two lateral bracts, not extend or extend to the tip. Calyx is 2~2.5 mm long, glabrous, keels are wide and thick, not extend to the tip, frontal pair of bracts are narrowly obovate-elliptic to broadly elliptic, posterior pair of bracts are obovate-elliptic to broadly elliptic. Corolla is white, and glabrous, corolla tube is equal to or slightly longer than the sepal (calyx lobe), lobes are tiny, elliptic or oval (egg-shaped), 0.5~1 mm long, and reflexed after flowering. Stamens insert near to tip on the inner surface of the corolla tube, conspicuously exserted with style, anthers are ovate-elliptic or broadly elliptic, 0.6~1.1 mm long, apex has broad triangular small protrusions, white or greenish white when it is fresh, turns hazel (pale brown) when it is dried. 5 ovules.

 Capsularfruit is ovate-elliptic to conical ovate, 4~5 mm long, circumscissile above the base. 4~5 seeds, elliptic, ventral surface is flat, 1.2~1.8 mm long, tawny (yellow-brown) to black; cotyledons arrange dorsoventrally. Its flowering period is from May to July, the fruiting period is from July to September.

 The different morphological characters of Plantago depressa Willd from the other two species are: the plant has cylindrical straight roots. Leaf blades are elliptic, elliptic-lanceolate, or ovate-lanceolate, the base is narrow. The sepal (calyx lobe) is about equal in length as the flower bract. Capsularfruit is conical. Seeds are oblong, brownish-black.

 Ecological environment: The plant grows in grassland, riverbank, ditch edge, meadows, fields, and roadsides, in areas at altitudes of 5~4,500 meters above sea level. It is distributed in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Zhujiang River area, northwest areas, and southwest areas of China. It is also distributed in Siberia to the far east, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kashmir.

 Characters of herbs: The seeds are oblong oval, slightly flat, 0.90~1.75 mm long, and 0.60~0.98 mm wide. The surface is black-brown or brown, the back surface is slightly raised, the ventral surface is relatively flat, and there is a conspicuous white concave hilum in the center. The herb of a better grade has large grains, even and plump, and red-brown.

(3).Plantago major L.


 plants of Plantago major L with flower spikes grow in field Botanical description: Plantago major L is commonly known as Dà Chē Qián. Biennial or perennial herb. Many fibrous roots. The rhizome is short and stout. Basal leaves are rosette-stape, procumbent, spread obliquely or upright; Leaf blade is herbaceous, thin chartaceous (papery) or chartaceous, broadly ovate to broadly elliptic, 3~18~30 cm long, 2~11~21 cm wide, the apex is blunt pointed or sharp-pointed, the margin is undulate, sparsely irregular teeth or subentire, both surfaces are sparsely pubescent or glabrate, a few are densely pubescent, 3~5~7 leaf veins; Petioles are 1~3~10~26 cm long, the base is sheathed (sheath-shaped), often piliferous.

 several flowering plants of Plantago major L with spikes and green leaves grow in field Inflorescence is 1 to several; peduncles are upright or arched, 2~5~18 cm long, have vertical stripes, pubescent or pilose; spikes are thin terete (thin cylindrical), 1~3~20 cm, the base is often discontinuous; Bracts are broadly ovate-triangular, 1.2~2 mm long, width is equal to or slightly over length, glabrous or apex is sparsely pubescent, keel pelals are wide and thick. Flowers are sessile; Calyx is 1.5~2.5 mm long, front end of sepals is rounded, glabrous, or sparsely covered with short marginal seta, margin is membranous, keel pelals not extend to the tip end, frontal pair of sepals (calyx lobes) are elliptic to broadly elliptic, posterior pair of bracts are broadly elliptic to orbicular. The corolla is white and glabrous, the corolla tube is equal to or slightly longer than sepals, and lobes are lanceolate to narrowly ovate, 1~1.5 mm long, reflexed after flowering. Stamens inserted near the base on the inner surface of the corolla tube, conspicuously exserted with style, anthers are elliptic, 1~1.2 mm long, usually mauve (lilac) at first, rarely white, turns hazel (pale brown) when it is dried. Ovules are 12 to over 40.

 Capsularfruit is subglobular (near-spherical), ovoid or broadly ellipsoidal, 2-3 mm long, circumscissile in the middle part or slightly lower part. Seeds are 8~34, oval (egg-shaped), elliptic or rhomboid, 0.8~1.2 mm long, angular, ventral surface is raised or nearly flat, tawny (yellow-brown); Cotyledons arrange dorsoventrally. Its flowering period is from June to August, the fruiting period is from July to September.

 The different morphological characters of Plantago major from Plantago asiatica are: leaf blades are oval (egg-shaped) or broad-ovate, 6~10 cm long, 3~6 cm wide, the apex is blunt, the base is round or broadly cuneate; the base of the petiole is often enlarged or sheathed (sheath-shaped). Spikes are 3~10 cm long, and flowers arrange densely. 7~15 seeds, black.

 many plants of Plantago major L. with green spikes grow in grass field Ecological environment: The plant grows in grassland, meadows, river beach, ditch sides, marshland, hillsides or mountain slopes, roadsides, field edges, or wasteland, in areas at altitudes of 5~2,800 meters above sea level. The plant is distributed in the temperate zone and cold temperate zone of the Asia-Europe continent, naturalization around the world. The herb is distributed in the northwest, north, and southwest areas, the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Hainan, and Taiwan of China.

 Characters of herbs: The seeds are nearly triangular or rhombic, with small grains, 0.88~1.60 mm long, and 0.55~0.90 mm wide. The surface is black-brown or brown, the ventral surface is raised higher, and the umbilical point is white, mostly located in the center or one end of the raised ventral surface. The herb of a better grade has large grains, is even and plump, and is red-brown.
 

 
  

 

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References:
  • 1.Introduction of Che Qian Zi:Plantain Seed or Semen Plantaginis.

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