Introduction of Hai Tong Pi:Coral-bean Bark or Cortex Erythrinae.

TCM Herbalism:Medicinals and Classifications. ✵The article gives records of the herb Coral-bean Bark, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its botanical source two plant species, ①.Erythrina variegata L.var.orientalis (L.) Merr., ②.Erythrina arborescens Roxb., with a detailed introduction to the botanical features of these two plant species, the growth characteristics, and ecological environment of these two plant species, the features of the herb Coral-bean Bark, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Cortex Erythrinae(Coral-bean Bark).

dried herb slices and segments of Cortex Erythrinae Pin Yin Name: Hǎi Tónɡ Pí.
 English Name: Coral-bean Bark.
 Latin Name: Cortex Erythrinae.
 Property and flavor: neutral in nature, pungent, bitter.

 Brief introduction: The herb Cortex Erythrinae is the dried bark of Erythrina variegata L.var.orientalis (L.) Merr., or Erythrina arborescens Roxb., used to dispel wind-damp, unblock the collateral meridians and relieve itching in cases of rheumatalgia, and also externally for treating neurodermatitis and chronic eczema. The herb is commonly known as Cortex Erythrinae, Coral-bean Bark, Hǎi Tónɡ Pí.

 Botanical source: Famous herbal classics defined the herb Cortex Erythrinae(Coral-bean Bark) as the dried bark of (1). Erythrina variegata L.var.orientalis (L.) Merr., or (2). Erythrina arborescens Roxb. They are plants of the Erythrina. Genus, Fabaceae family (Leguminosae, legume, pea family), Rosales order. These 2 commonly used species are introduced:

(1).Erythrina variegata L.var.orientalis (L.) Merr.

 leaves and unmature fruits of Erythrina variegata L.var.orientalis L.Merr. Botanical description: The plant, Erythrina variegata L.var.orientalis (L.) Merr is also known as Erythrina indica Lam., is commonly known as Cì Tóng. Large trees, the tree grows up to 20 meters high. The bark is taupe brown (grayish brown), branches are primrose yellow (pale yellow) to khaki, densely gray tomentose, have black conical spines, shed off in two or three years. Leaves are alternate or cluster on top of branches; 2 stipules (peraphyllum), linear, 1~1.3 cm long, caducous; trifoliolate leaves; lobules (leaflets) are broadly ovate to orthorhombic ovate, 10~15 cm long, the length of apical lobules are bigger than width, the apex is acuminate and obtuse, the base is subtruncate or broadly rhombic, veins on both surfaces are sparsely trichomes.

 Racemes are 15 cm long, tomentose; peduncles are 7~10 cm long; the calyx is spathe-like, 2~3 cm long, calyx mouth is oblique split, dehiscent from the back to the base; corolla is papilionaceous, bright red, and vexilla is 5~6 cm long, alae and tropis (keel pelals) are nearly equal in length, shorter than the calyx; 10 stamens, disomic, filaments are mauve (lilac), 3~3.5 cm long, anther is yellow; 1 style, pea green (pale green), stigma is unsplit, densely covered with purple fluff.

 Pods (legumes) are bead-like and slightly curved. 1~8 seeds, spheric shape (globular), darkish red (dull red). It is flowering in March.

 a colorful drawing of Erythrina variegata L.var.orientalis L.Merr.,tree with many green leaves and red flowers Ecological environment: The tree grows in wild fields or is planted as street trees. The plant is mainly distributed in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, the Zhujiang river area, the southwest area, Taiwan, and other areas of China.

 red flowers of Erythrina variegata L.var.orientalis L.Merr. growing on branches Growth characteristics: The plant Erythrina variegata prefers a warm, moist climate, likes sunshine, not resistant to coldness. It can grow in the area where the annual average temperature is 20.1 °C (Celsius, or 68.18 degrees Fahrenheit), the average temperature in January is over 8 °C (Celsius, or 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and the precipitation is over 1,110 mm. Its soil requirements are not strict, but the sandy loam with good drainage is better.

 dried herb slices and segments of Coral-bean Bark Characters of herbs: The bark is semi-cylindrical or plate-like (platy), both sides are slightly curled, about 40 cm long, and 0.25~1.5 cm thick, the out surface is yellow-brown to brownish black, and often has longitudinal grooves of different widths. The cork of old bark is thick, and sometimes it is scraped off, the surface with cork is rough and has yellow lenticels, and spikes (nail-shaped thorns) are scattered, or round scars after the thorns are removed, the spikes are long conical, 5~8 mm high, the apex is sharply pointed, and the base is 5~10 mm in diameter; the inner surface is yellow-brown, relatively flat, with fine longitudinal reticulated patterns. The root bark has no thorns. The texture of the herb is tough and tensile, easy to crack longitudinally, not easy to break, the fracture surface is light brown and flaky. The herb has a slight odor, and it tastes slightly bitter. The herb of a better grade has a thin cortex, with spikes (nail-shaped thorns).

 Pharmacological actions: ①.inhibitory effect on dermatophytes such as Trichoderma blue, Achorion schoenleinii, Rust-colored Trichomycetes, and Epidermophyton inguinale in the test tube; ②.inhibitory effect on Staphylococcus aureus in vitro.

 Medicinal efficacy: Dispel wind and eliminate dampness, activating tendon and collaterals, kill worms and stop itching. It is indicated for rheumatic numbness, rheumatic arthralgia, muscular constricture, lumbar and leg muscle pain, traumatic injury of fall, dysentery, toothache. Topically used to treat all kinds of stubborn dermatitis, scabies, eczema.

 Administration of Cortex Erythrinae (Hǎi Tónɡ Pí): 
Reference: Administration Guide of Cortex Erythrinae (Hǎi Tónɡ Pí)
TCM Books: ①.Internally:water decoction, 2~4 qian (about 6~12 grams), or infusing in wine. Externally:wash with water decoction,or prepare to finely ground herb powder and apply stick; ②.Internally:water decoction, 6~12 grams, or infusing in wine. Externally:proper amount,fumigation wash with water decoction, or infusing in wine and smear, or prepare to finely ground herb powder and apply stick.

(2).Erythrina arborescens Roxb.

 many red flowers of Erythrina arborescens Roxb grow on branches Botanical description: Erythrina arborescens Roxb is also known as Erythrina tienensis Wang et Tang (E.tienensis Wang et Tang), it is commonly known as Qiáo Mù Cì Tóng. Trees, the tree grows up to 7~8 meters tall. Its bark is spinose. Trifoliolate leaves, and lobules (leaflets) are oblate, 10~20 meters long, and 8–19 meters wide, the apex is sharp-pointed, the base is subtruncate, and both surfaces are glabrous; petiolules are stout.

 Racemes are axillary, flowers grow densely on the upper part of the peduncle; rachides (floral axis) and pedicels are glabrous; the calyx is bilabiate, glabrous; corolla is red, up to 4 cm long, alae (winged stem) is short, only 1/4 length of the vexilla, tropis (keel pelals) are rhombic, longer than alae (winged stem), all have no claws; 10 stamens, 5 long and 5 short; the ovary is stipitate, has yellow hairs.

 Pods (legumes) are fusiform (spindle-shaped), slightly curved, both ends are pointed, the apex is beaked (promuscidate), the base is stipitate, about 10 cm long, and about 1.2 cm wide.

 a colorful drawing of Erythrina arborescens Roxb,green leaves,stems and red flower spikes,pod and seed Ecological environment: The plant grows in gullies or grass slopes. The plant is mainly distributed in the southwest area and other areas of China.

 Characters of herbs: The bark of Erythrina arborescens Roxb is basically the same as the bark of Erythrina variegata, in the shape of an involute (curled inward) transverse long strip or flat small squares, 3~6 mm thick, and the out surface is yellowish-brown or tan (chocolate brown) to brownish-black, some are sap green (dark green), coarse and rough; the cork bark mostly shed off, and the boundary between the spike base and the cork bark is inconspicuous; the inner surface is light yellowish brown, smooth, has fine longitudinal striation. The texture of the herb is firm and hard, the fracture surface is yellow and fibrous. The herb has a slight odor, and it tastes slight bitter. The herb of a better grade has thin bark and spikes.



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  • 1.Introduction of Hai Tong Pi:Coral-bean Bark or Cortex Erythrinae.

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