On Learning About a New Plant

Estimated read time... 2 minutes
I checked in at East West’s student forum yesterday (even though it was supposed to be a non-working day.)  In a post, we were getting a scolding from our wonderful teacher and fearless leader, Michael Tierra, for not taking him up on his contest on Facebook.  I logged into Facebook and could not find the above picture, when I did, I thought, “hmmmm… that’s an interesting plant, it looks familiar yet it is totally new to me.  Alas, I can’t do any work today, it’s my ‘day off.'”
A lot of folks said it looked like amaranth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranth), but the leaves looked too heart shaped in the specimen above to truly match amaranth (the ones I’ve seen at least.)  Also, notice how the stem splits several times (don’t ask me the proper botanical lingo, I don’t know it.)  Amaranth doesn’t split like that.  When you look real close at the splits (above), it’s almost like they are bandaged together.  I thought, “wow, that looks a lot like a Japanese Knotweed in the stem portions, or smartweed even.”  Off I go into my books and online to find out what this plant could be, despite my “day off” status.
At first I thought it was Polygonum erectum (http://www.herbsfor.net/knotweed-polygonum-erectum.html), after checking out the USDA plant database and googling different botanical names, common weeds, etc.  Michael asked where we could buy the seeds, and he gave us a big clue that the seeds are used in herbal medicine – that definitely ruled out P. erectum (which uses aerial portions.)
Off I go to Horizon herbs, look up Polygonum, and the following image came up:

Looks like it doesn’t it?  I cross-checked other sites/images (my fat Bensky Materia Medica book does not have this plant listed.)  I then googled “Polygonum orientale TCM”  and got the below information from TCMWiki.com.  Fits awful close, doesn’t it?

I shot my answer off, and happily report that the top picture is indeed Michael holding Polygonum orientale.  The common garden name is “kiss me over the garden gate”.

For those who are interested, here’s a bit of information:


                  
Pinyin: Shui Hong Hua Zi
Latin: Polygonum orientale
Common: Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate
                                                            
Properties:
Salty, cool; Liver and Spleen meridians entered.
Actions:
Dissipate blood stasis and break stagnation, tonify the Spleen and promote diuresis.
Indications:
Scrofula, sores and boils, stomachache, abdominal mass, abdominal distension, poor appetite, ascites, acute conjunctivitis.
Dosage and administration:
Decoct 3~10 g seeds, pounded into powder or made into paste or soaked in wine.  Properdosage is for external application, made ointment or pounded for applying.
It is contraindicated for deficiency-cold in Spleen and Stomach.

(From: http://www.tcmwiki.com/wiki/polygonum-orientale)

Seeds at Horizon Herbs.  https://www.horizonherbs.com/product.asp?specific=533