Hedysarum polybotrys is a herbaceous perennial plant producing a clump of erect stems 7 – 12cm tall.

The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine. It is often used, especially in Taiwan, as a substitute for the widely used herb Huang Qi (Astragalus mongholicus).

Hedysarum polybotrys has a wide distribution, is present in protected areas and an apparently stable population. The plant is classified as ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013).

Herbs, perennial, 7-12 cm tall. Stems caespitose, erect. Stipules lanceolate, 5-7 mm, connate less than to middle. Leaves 5-9 cm, 11-19-foliolate; leaflet blades ovate, ovate-lan­ceolate, or ovate-oblong, 1.5-3 × 0.4-1.5 cm, abaxially with ap­pressed trichomes, adaxially glabrous. Racemes dense, with many flowers; bracts subulate-lanceolate, marcescent, 1/4-2/3 as long as pedicels; peduncle ± as long as to longer than leaves. Pedicel 3-4 mm. Calyx obliquely campanulate, 4-5 mm, pu­bescent; teeth triangular-subulate, unequal, most abaxial tooth ca. 2 mm and ca. 2 × as long as others. Corolla yellow; standard long obovate, 1.1-1.2 cm; wings as long as to slightly longer than standard; keel 2-3 mm longer than standard. Ovary pu­bescent. Legume divided into 2-4 articles; articles subglobose to broadly ovoid, (3-)4-5(-6) mm in diam., compressed, pubescent, margin narrow and entire. Fl. Jul-Aug, fr. Aug-Sep.

Pharmaceutical properties:

  1. A long history of medicinal use in China, where it is employed mainly to increase the energy of the body.
  2. Treatment of infestation with gastrointestinal nematodes.
  3.  Support the immune system and peripheral nervous system.
  4. Anhidrotic, antioxidant.
  5. Used in the treatment of asthma, boils, cachexia, diarrhoea, oedema, nervousness, numbness, night sweats and poor circulation.
  6. Antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-aging, anti-diabetic, and anti-hypertensive properties of the plants.
  7. Anti-inflammatory properties.
  8. Capable of regenerating immune cell populations under stress.
  9. The biological activities of this plant suggest the potential usefulness of this traditional Qi-tonifying herb in the treatment of clinical conditions when immune-enhancing and anti-inflammatory effect is desired.
  10. Significant protective effect against heart and brain hypoxia, and also exhibits tonification, growth promotion, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity.