Introduction of Tu Si Zi:Dodder Seed or Semen Cuscutae.

TCM Herbalism:Medicinals and Classifications. ✵The article gives records of the herb Dodder Seed, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its herbal classic book defined botanical source two plant species, ①.Cuscuta chinensis Lam., ②.Cuscuta australis R.Br., and another commonly used plant species, ③.Cuscuta japonica Choisy., 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 Dodder Seed, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.

Semen Cuscutae(Dodder Seed).

Semen Cuscutae:herb photo Pin Yin Name: Tú Sī Zǐ.
 English Name: Dodder Seed, South Dodder Seed, Chinese Dodder Seed.
 Latin Name: Semen Cuscutae.
 Property and flavor: neutral in nature, tastes pungent, sweet.

 Brief introduction: The herb Semen Cuscutae is the dried ripe seed of Cuscuta chinensis Lam., used to tonify the liver and kidney, to improve eyesight and prevent miscarriage, for the treatment of nocturnal emission, impotence, enuresis, diabetes, decreased eyesight and threatened abortion. The herb is commonly known as Semen Cuscutae, Dodder Seed, Tú Sī Zǐ.

 Botanical source: The common official herbal classics defined the herb Semen Cuscutae (Dodder Seed) as the dried ripe seed of the species (1).Cuscuta chinensis Lam. The latest official herbal classics (2020 Edition) defined the herb as the dried ripe seed from botanical source (1),(2). Other famous herbal classics defined the herb Semen Cuscutae (Dodder Seed) as the dried ripe seed of the species (1).Cuscuta chinensis Lam., (2).Cuscuta australis R. Br., (3).Cuscuta japonica Choisy. They are plants of the Cuscuta Linn genus, the Convolvulaceae family (morning glory family) of the Tubiflorae order. The herbal classic book defined species and other 1 commonly used species are introduced:

(1).Cuscuta chinensis Lam.


 Botanical description: The plant, Cuscuta chinensis Lam is commonly known as Tú Sī Zǐ. An annual parasitical herb. Stems are twining, yellow, slender, about 1 mm in diameter, and many-branched, parasitic roots could grow out anywhere on the stem, and stretch inside the host plants. Leaves are rare and few, scaly, triangular-ovate.

 Flowers are hermaphroditic, many flowers grow in clusters and compose umbellule or small glomerule (flower cluster); flower bracts are small and scaly; peduncles are slightly thick and strong, about 1 mm long; calyx is cyathiform (cupulate), about 2 mm long, the part below the middle connate, 5 lobes, triangular, front end is blunt; corolla is white, gyalectiform (urceolate), about 3 mm long, shallowly 5-lobed, lobes are triangular-ovate, front end is sharp-pointed or blunt, reflexed outward, the base of corolla tube has 5 scales, oblong, front end and edges are penicillate (fringelike); 5 stamens, inserted slightly lower part on the curved corolla lobes, filaments are short, anthers expose outside the corolla lobes; 2 pistils, carpels connate, ovary is subsphaeroidal, 2-loculed, 2 styles, stigma is capitate.

 Capsularfruits are subsphaeroidal, slightly oblate, about 3 mm in diameter, nearly wrapped by persistent corolla, and orderly circumscissile at maturity. 2–4 seeds, yellow or tawny (yellow-brown), oval (egg-shaped), about 1.4-1.6 mm long, the surface is coarse and rough. Its flowering period is from July to September, and the fruiting period is from August to October.

 Cuscuta chinensis Lam:growing plant Dodder, an aphyllous parasitic vine that attaches it's reddish-orange threadlike stems to green plants through suckers to draw out nourishment, is a twining yellow or orange plant sometimes tinged with purple or red. Occasionally it is almost white. The stems can be very thin and thread-like or relatively stout. Its pinkish-white flowers have five sharp, explanate, triangular lobes and grow in dense clusters. The seeds may remain dormant for up to eight years.

 Dodder is classified as a member of the Morning-Glory Family (Convolvulaceae) in older references and as a member of the Dodder Family (Cuscutaceae) in more recent publications. Welsh et al. report twelve species of Cuscuta in Utah, while Weber (1986) separates this family into two genera, with one species in Cuscuta and five species in the genus Grammica. Weber's separation is based on the shape of the stigma.

 Cuscuta chinensis Lam:growing plant Dodder is a nuisance to farmers growing alfalfa and clover. Dodder parasitizes various kinds of wild and cultivated plants and is especially destructive to alfalfa, lespedeza, flax, clover, and potatoes. Ornamentals are attacked including chrysanthemum, dahlia, helenium, Virginia-creeper, trumpet-vine, English ivy, and petunias. Dodder is particularly troublesome where alfalfa, clover, and onion are grown for seed because dodder seed is difficult to remove from the desired seed crop and can be spread with infected seed. Its water, minerals, and carbohydrates are absorbed from the host plants through haustoria that penetrate the host's tissue. In dodder, the haustoria are modified adventitious roots.

 Dodder is said (Wilson, et al.) to contain some chlorophyll in the buds, fruits, and stems, but the amount of food manufactured in this tissue is of little significance to the survival of the plant.

 Cuscuta chinensis Lam:growing plant The flowers are many, white, pink, or yellowish, small (2 to 4 mm long depending on species), and can grow in tight balls or a loose cluster (again depending on species). Flowers normally appear from early June to the end of the growing season. The fruit is about 1/8th inch in diameter, with thin chartaceous (papery) walls, and contains 1 to 4 seeds. The seeds are yellow to brown or black, orbicular (subrotund), and have a fine rough surface with one round and two flat sides.

 Dodder produces a seed that drops to the ground and germinates the next growing season if a suitable host is present. If no suitable host is present, the seed may remain dormant for five years.

 Dodder seedlings must attach to a suitable host plant within a few days of germinating, or they die. The young seedling is sensitive to touch, and the yellowish stem gropes in the air until it makes contact with a plant. The contact is made firm by one or more coils about the stem. If this plant happens to contain foods suitable to the dodder, then a secondary stimulus is aroused which causes root-like branches (haustoria) to form and penetrate the stem. The basal part of the parasite soon shrivels away so that no soil connection exists.

 Ecological Environment: The plant, Cuscuta chinensis Lam grows in fields, roadsides, barren land, bushes, and sunny places on hillsides or mountain slopes, and mostly is parasitic on plants of Leguminosae, Compositae, and Chenopodiaceae family. Geographical distribution: This species is mainly distributed in the southwest area, but it is also cultivated in other areas of China, including the north, and northwest, the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, the middle reaches of the Yellow River, the Zhujiang River area, and other provinces.

 Growth characteristics: The plant, Cuscuta chinensis Lam. prefers a high-temperature and moist climate, its requirements on soil are not strict. Mostly are parasitic on the herb at both sides of the river valley, river banks, or ligneous plants (woody plants) in brushwood, Glycine max (soya bean) and Glycine max(L.)Merr (black soy bean) are its better host plants.

 Dodder Seed:herb photo Characters of herbs: The seeds are quasi-circular (similar circular) or oval (egg-shaped), ventral ridge lines are conspicuous, both sides are concave, the long diameter (major diameter) is 1.4~1.6 mm, and short diameter (minor diameter) is 0.9~1.1 mm. The surface is taupe brown (grayish-brown) or yellowish-brown, slightly coarse and rough, the seed rostrum (beak) is inconspicuous; Under the magnifying mirror, there are visible fine dark spots on the surface, and there are unevenly distributed white filiform stripes. The umbilicus is suborbicular and located at the tip of the seed. The seed coat is firm and hard, not easily broken. Soak it in boiling water, and its surface is sticky. Boil it until the seed coat is broken, exposing the yellowish-white slender and convoluted embryo. Remove the seed coat, the embryo is convoluted for 3 circles in the center, and the endosperm is membranous and shell-like, nested around the embryo. The herb has a slight odor, it tastes slightly bitter and puckery. The herb of a better grade has full grains and is free of dust and impurities.

 Pharmacological actions: ①.liver protective function; ②.boost Yang and enhance the vitality of sexual function; ③.increase the nonspecific immunity function; ④.improve the experiment animal's ability of hypoxia and swimming time; ⑤.anti-tumor; ⑥.anti-virus; ⑦.anti-inflammatory; ⑧.anti-sterility; ⑨.cathartic effect; ⑩.lower the blood pressure of anesthetic dogs.

 Medicinal efficacy: Tonify the liver and kidney, tonifying the kidney and benefit essence (tonifylng the kidney to stop spontaneous emission), benefits essence, controlling nocturnal emission and stopping polyuria, improve eyesight (improving acuity of vision), nourish the liver and improve eyesight, miscarriage prevention, antidiarrheal (relieve diarrhea); externally dispersing wind and removing speckle. It is indicated for deficiency of liver and kidney, soreness and weakness of waist and knees, soreness and pain of waist and knees, asynodia (impotence or impotentia), spermatorrhea (seminal emission), prospermia (premature ejaculation), infertility, uroclepsia (enuresis, urinary incontinence, bed-wetting), frequent urination, threatened abortion due to deficiency of the kidney during pregnancy, threatened abortion, abortion (miscarriage), wasting thirst (consumptive thirst), dripping urination, stranguria with turbid discharge, dim eyesight, dysopia and tinnitus (hypopsia or blurred vision, ringing in ears), diarrhea (loose bowels), splenoasthenic diarrhea and nephrasthenia diarrhea (diarrhea of spleen deficiency or kidney deficiency type); Externally it is indicated for leukodermia (piebald skin vitiligo, leucoderma), etc.

 Administration of Semen Cuscutae (Tú Sī Zǐ): 
 
Reference: Administration Guide of Semen Cuscutae (Tú Sī Zǐ)
TCM Books: ①.Internally:6~12 grams;Externally:proper amount; ②.Internally:water decoction, 3~5 qian (about 9~15 grams);or prepare to pill, powder. Externally:fried and prepare to finely ground herb powder, apply stick; ③.Internally:water decoction,6~15 grams;or prepared to pill, powder. Externally:proper amount, fried and prepare to finely ground herb powder, apply stick.
 Contraindications,Precautions and Adverse Reactions:The herb Semen Cuscutae should forbidden in conditions during pregnancy, metrorrhagia (flooding), constipation, etc.

(2).Cuscuta australis R.Br.


 Cuscuta australis R.Br.:growing plant Botanical description: The plant, Cuscuta australis R.Br is commonly known as Nán Fāng Tú Sī Zǐ (means south area Cuscuta, or South Dodder Seed). An annual parasitical herb. Stems are twining, golden yellow, slender, 1 mm in diameter, and aphyllous (afoliate, leafless).

 Inflorescences are lateral, few flowers or many flowers cluster into an umbellule or small glomerule, peduncles are nearly absent; Bracts and bracteoles are both small, scaly; Pedicels are slightly stout, 1~2.5 mm long; Calyx is cyathiform (cuplike), base connate, 3~5 lobes, oblong or orbicular (subrotund), usually unequal in size, about 0.8~1.8 mm long, the apex is rounded; Corolla is creamy white (milky white) or faint yellow (pale yellow), cyathiform, about 2 mm long, lobes are oval (egg-shaped) or oblong, the tip is rounded, about equal length as corolla tube, upright, persistent; Stamens are inserted in the curved and absent part of the corolla lobes, slightly shorter than corolla lobes; Scales are small, the margin is shortly penicillate (fringelike); Ovary is oblate, 2 styles, of equal length or slightly unequal length, stigma is spheric (globular shape).

 Cuscuta australis R.Br.:flowering plant Capsularfruits are oblate, 3~4 mm in diameter, the lower half part is wrapped by persistent corolla, and irregularly dehiscent at maturity, not circumscissile. Usually, it has 4 seeds, hazel (pale brown), oval, about 1.5 mm long, the surface is coarse and rough.

 Ecological Environment: The plant, Cuscuta australis R.Br is parasitic on herbaceous plants or semishrub of Leguminosae, Artemisia genus of Compositae family, and Vitex L. genus of Verbenaceae family, on field sides and roadsides, and in areas at altitudes of 50~2,000 meters above sea level. It is distributed in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, the northern and northwest areas, the southwest area, the Zhujiang River area, Taiwan, and other areas of China. It is also distributed in Central, southern, and eastern Asia, some areas of Southeast Asia, and even Oceania.

 Cuscuta australis R.Br.:flowering plant Characters of herbs: The herb is similar to the seeds of Cuscuta chinensis Lam., but the seeds are oval (egg-shaped), the ventral ridge lines are inconspicuous, and the sizes are quite different, the long diameter (major diameter) is 0.7~2.0 mm, and the short diameter (minor diameter) is 0.5~1.2 mm. The surface is hazel (pale brown) to brown, one end has a coronoid (beak-shaped) protrusion and leaning to one side. Under a magnifying glass, one can see that the hilum is slightly concave, and is located on the lower side of the seed tip.

(3).Cuscuta japonica Choisy.


 Cuscuta japonica Choisy.:flowering plant Botanical description: The plant, Cuscuta japonica Choisy is commonly known as Jīn Dēng Téng (means Gold Lamp Vine). Annual parasitic twining herb, stems are stout and strong, succulent, 1~2 mm in diameter, yellow, often has prunus (violet-red) tubercular spots, glabrous, many-branched, aphyllous (afoliate, leafless).

 Cuscuta japonica Choisy.:growing plant Flowers are sessile or subsessile, compose spikes, it grows up to 3 cm long, base is often many-branched; Bracts and bracteoles are scaly, oval (egg-shaped), about 2 mm long, tip is pointed, entire, thickened along the back; Calyx is calathiform (bowl-shaped), succulent, about 2 mm long, 5-lobed and is nearly to the base, lobes are oval or orbicular (subrotund), equal length or unequal length, tip is pointed, the back surface often has prunus (violet red) tubercules; Corolla is campanulate (bell-shaped), faint red (pale red) or greenish-white, 3~5 mm long, apex is 5-lobed, lobes are ovate-triangular, blunt, upright or slightly reflexed, 2~2.5 times shorter than the length of the corolla tube; 5 stamens, inserted between lobes of corolla throat part, anthers are oval, yellow, filaments are absent or nearly absent; 5 scales, oblong, the margin is penicillate (fringelike), inserted at base of corolla tube, elongated and stretch to the middle part or above middle part of the corolla tube; Ovary is spheric shape (globular), smooth, glabrous, 2-loculed, style is slender, connate to one, as long as the ovary or slightly longer, stigma is 2-lobed.

 Capsularfruits are ovoid, about 5 mm long, subbasal part is circumscissile. 1~2 seeds, smooth, 2~2.5 mm long, brown. Its flowering period is in August, and the fruiting period is in September.

 Cuscuta japonica Choisy.:growing plant Ecological Environment: The plant, Cuscuta japonica Choisy is distributed in the north and south areas of China. It is parasitic on herbs or shrubs. It is also distributed in some other areas of Southeast and Northeast Asia.

 Characters of herbs: The seed is bigger, the long diameter (major diameter) is about 3 mm, and the short diameter (minor diameter) is 2~3 mm, and its surface is hazel (pale brown) or yellowish-brown. The herb of a better grade has full grains.
 

 
  

 

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References:
  • 1.Introduction of Tu Si Zi:Dodder Seed or Semen Cuscutae.

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