Unusual Addition to herbals

Its commonly said "Third times the charm".
Well this seems to apply to a plant that I have tried to grow for some time.
Jiaogulan. (jee-ow goo lan)

Also called Southern Ginseng and The Herb of Immortality or in China, Xiancao. 
Jiaogulan is a native to Southern China and is part of the Cucurbitaceae family which means its actually related to the cucumber and pumpkin family and like many other healthful plants out there, this plant too is considered to be a weed. 
It is reported in several different sources that in this has been used medicinially for over 600 years in China and can be attibuted to the unusual longetivity of residents in the Guizhou Province. 

I actually tried growing this about a year and a half ago and thanks to fungas gnats, and an environment that was much to its DISLIKE, it died.  I think for the first time it was actually the combination of too many gnats, too much cold, on the floor, not enough light.
So I tried again. And it died.  That time it seemed as if some sort of mold grew over the plant.  Weird. 
Well three times the charm. This time it worked!  And it is actually thriving even after it was dumped upside down on the floor when the hook in the ceiling came out.
In fact it seemed as if it liked that as its growth sped up almost a month after that tramatic event!  Who knows, maybe being dumped helped aerate the soil a bit? 
What lesson does this teach to novice or even experienced gardeners?
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  Especially in the gardening world. 
The Jiaogulan plant is dioecious which means that if I want seeds for future plants I have to have a male and female.  Remember last years lesson with the tomatillos? Well that applies here too. 
Unfortunately for me I only have one plant, gender unknown so no seeds for me. 
Also, I have seen several different sites report different things on the likes and dislikes of the Jiaogulan plant.  Some say it prefers full sun, others say shade, some say hot temperatures, others say cooler temperatures.
I can report the following.  My current Jiaogulan seems happy as a clam with somewhat filtered sunlight, off the floor, up where its a tad bit warmer, and I water it about once a week.  I do not drench the soil.  I typically will give it about 1 1/2 cups of water.  The temperature downstairs during the winter averages about 65 to 70 degrees. I have a spot light on this plant and a spider plant which seem to make both of these plants quite happy. 


Now, why should one grow a Jiaogulan plant?

First, I have to say, I am attracted to plants that appear to just be a houseplant but has a further use. 
I have many different plants hanging around in my house that look like they are simply some sort of vine type of houseplant when in fact it actually is a ....sweet potato. Or Turmeric.  Or a lowly potato. Or Jiaogulan.
And soon to arrive, Moringa trees! (more on that later!)
While I think that a plain old Pothos looks pretty and I do have some of them, I really get excited by plants that do more than just look decorative.
I mean, really, how cool is it that you can go to a houseplant and take from it to spice your dinner or make your tea?
So, onto about the lovely Jiaogulan plant.

The health claims on this one go through the roof.  They range from controlling cholesterol, blood pressure, digestion, strength and endurance, immunity boosting and even can supposedly inhibit cancer growth. 
The Jiaogulan plant boasts powerful adaptogenic and antioxidant properties and its even said it can help in weight loss. 


Now, the unfortunate bit however is I cannot actually claim that I have noticed any of these benefits because I only started to harvest a leaf or two every so often just as of recently. 
As my own plant starts to get larger I intend on using it in tisanes, which are more or less herbal teas.
 This plant will most assuredly be following me, if possible, to where ever we move to next.  I just have to remember to save room in our truck!

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