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Codonopsis tangshen (bellflower)

Codonopsis tangshen is an unusual climber, bearing subtle, yellowish-green, bell-shaped flowers, with purple markings on the inside; the root is used in China to make a tonic.
Detail of an illustration of Codonopsis tangshen

Detail of an illustration of Codonopsis tangshen

Species information

Scientific name: 

Codonopsis tangshen Oliv.

Common name: 

bellflower, dang seng (Chinese)

Conservation status: 

Not evaluated according to IUCN Red List criteria.


On hillsides in scrub near forest margins.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, medicine.

Known hazards: 

None known.


Genus: Codonopsis

About this species

This climbing perennial bears subtle, beautiful, bell-shaped flowers in late summer. It thrives as an ornamental in gardens of western Europe where the climate is similar to that of its home in China. The British plantsman Ernest Wilson collected seeds and specimens of Codonopsis tangshen for the nurserymen Messrs Veitch & Son, and in their book Hortus Veitchii (1906) C. tangshen is described as having been ‘raised from seed from central China, where, considered an important drug, and used amongst the very poor as a substitute for costly ginseng, it is known as t’ang-shên'. Codonopsis tangshen is still important in traditional Chinese medicine today.


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