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From Seeds to Blooms: The Life Cycle of Androsace Umbellata

Androsace umbellata is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant blanketed with fine, soft hairs. It has delicate, fibrous roots and a rosette of basal leaves, each with a 1-2 cm long petiole. The leaves are nearly round or ovate, 3-15 mm in diameter, with a slightly concave or inconspicuously truncate base, rounded tips, and numerous […]

Androsace umbellata is an annual or biennial herbaceous plant blanketed with fine, soft hairs. It has delicate, fibrous roots and a rosette of basal leaves, each with a 1-2 cm long petiole.

The leaves are nearly round or ovate, 3-15 mm in diameter, with a slightly concave or inconspicuously truncate base, rounded tips, and numerous blunt, triangular teeth along the margins. The foliage is somewhat thick.

This plant prefers moist, warm, sunny environments, and fertile soil, often flourishing in mountain meadows or alongside roads.

However, it can also take root and sprout in the most meager of soils, whether in highland grasslands or river valley flats. Its seeds can self-propagate. Additionally, it can survive in icy, snowy conditions.

I. Morphological Characteristics

Umbrella Androsace is an annual or biennial stemless herb. Its entire surface is covered with articulated fine, soft hairs. It has a poorly defined main root but numerous fibrous ones. All leaves are basal and spread out on the ground.

The leaf stalks are 1-4 cm long, covered with spreading soft hairs. The leaves are nearly round or ovate, 5-20 mm in diameter, with blunt tips and a shallowly heart-shaped to nearly round base.

Androsace umbellata

The edges have triangular blunt teeth, and both leaf surfaces are covered with appressed short soft hairs. Flower scapes, usually several, emerge from the rosette of leaves, 4-15 cm high, and are covered with white short soft hairs.

The umbel consists of 4-15 flowers; the bracts are ovate to lanceolate, 3.5-4 mm long. The slender flower stalks are 1-3 cm long, extending up to 6 cm during fruiting, covered with soft hairs and mixed with short-stalked glandular bodies.

The calyx is deeply divided, nearly to the base, with ovate or ovate-lanceolate lobes, 3-4 mm long, elongating to 5 mm in fruit and spreading horizontally in a star-like fashion, with 3-6 distinct longitudinal veins.

The corolla is white, with a diameter of 4-6 mm; the tube is about 2 mm long, shorter than the calyx, with a yellow throat, and five lobes, each inverted ovate-oblong, 2.5-3 mm long and 1.5-2 mm wide.

The stamens are attached at the middle of the corolla tube and are about 1.5 mm long. The ovary is spherical with a short style, and contains multiple ovules.

The capsule is nearly spherical, 2.5-4 mm in diameter, with the top divided into five parts, and the lobes are white, membranous, and persistent with the calyx.

The seeds are brownish, elongated polyhedral, 0.6-0.8 mm in diameter. The flowering period is April to May, and the fruiting period is in June.

The intense sunlight of the high mountains enables the leaves of Umbrella Androsace to synthesize sugars, which serve as an anti-freezing agent during the cold winter months.

The plant is an annual or biennial herb. It has a poorly defined main root but numerous fibrous ones. All leaves are basal, with the leaf blades nearly round or ovate, 5-20 mm in diameter, and leaf stalks 1-4 cm long, covered with spreading soft hairs.

Several flower scapes usually emerge from the base of the leaves, 4-15 cm high, covered with white short soft hairs. The umbel consists of 4-15 flowers; the bracts are ovate to lanceolate, 3.5-4 mm long.

The slender flower stalks are 1-3 cm long, extending up to 6 cm during fruiting, covered with soft hairs and mixed with short-stalked glandular bodies.

The calyx is cup-shaped, 3-4 mm long, closely covered with short soft hairs, divided nearly to the base, with diamond-shaped ovate lobes, 3-6 longitudinal veins, enlarging in fruit and spreading horizontally in a star-like fashion.

The corolla is white, 4-6 mm in diameter, with a tube about 2 mm long, shorter than the calyx, with a yellow throat. The lobes are inverted ovate-oblong, 2.5-3 mm long and 1.5-2 mm wide.

The capsule is nearly spherical, slightly flattened, about 3 mm in diameter, and splits into five white membranous parts when mature.

The seeds are numerous, small, brownish, elongated polyhedral, about 0.3 mm in diameter, with a reticulated seed coat. The flowering period is from February to April, and the fruiting period is from May to June.

Several flower scapes commonly sprout from the leaf axils at the base, (3)5-15 cm long. The umbel typically has 4-10 flowers; the bracts are ovate to lanceolate, 3-4 mm long and 0.5-1.5 mm wide, tapering at the tip.

The slender flower stalks are 1-3(5) cm long, usually extending up to 6 cm after flowering, spreading, and mixed with glandular hairs.

The cup-shaped calyx is deeply divided nearly to the base, with ovate lobes, 2-3.5 mm long, enlarging during fruit to 4-5 mm, spreading horizontally in a star-like fashion with 3-6 distinct longitudinal veins.

The corolla is usually white, pale pinkish-white, or pale lilac-white, tubular, about 2 mm long, with the tube shorter than the calyx.

The throat is yellow, and the lobes are nearly as long as or slightly longer than the corolla tube, inverted ovate-oblong, 2.5-3 mm long, and 1.5-2 mm wide, protruding noticeably beyond the corolla.

The stamens are attached at the middle of the corolla tube and are about 1.5 mm long. The ovary is spherical with an extremely short style.

The capsule is nearly spherical, slightly flattened, about 3 mm in diameter, splitting into five white membranous lobes upon maturity. The seeds are small, numerous, brownish, elongated polyhedral, about 0.3 mm in diameter, with a net-like seed coat.

II. Growth Environment

Preferring moist, warm, sunny conditions and fertile soil, this plant often thrives in wild grasslands or alongside roads.

It can take root and sprout even in the sparsest soil, whether on alpine grasslands or river valley flats. Its seeds can self-propagate and survive in icy and snowy conditions.

III. Distribution Range

It grows on the edges of forests, in grasslands, and under sparse woods. It is found in North Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, and India. The type specimen was collected from Vietnam.

Its distribution is very wide, found throughout China, as well as in Russia, North Korea, Japan, the Philippines, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

IV. Primary Value

Introduction

Medicinal classification: Heat-clearing; Detoxifying.

Family classification: Primulaceae.

Other names: Buddha’s Bead, Earth Pepper, Five Sacred Mountains Facing the Sky, Little Tiger Ear Grass, White Flower Grass, Suo River Flower, Five Clouds, Throat Moss, Throat Moth Grass, Qingming Flower, White Flower Pearl Grass, Five-Pointed Star Grass, Sky Star Grass, Sky-Hanging Winter, Tip Bead Grass, Fairy Cow Peach, Golden Cow Grass.

Taste: Bitter; Spicy; Slightly Cold

Meridian Affinity: Lung, Liver, Spleen.

Functions: Clear heat and detoxify; reduce swelling and relieve pain.

Indications: Sore throat; Mouth ulcers; Toothache; Headache; Conjunctivitis; Rheumatic pain; Asthma; Urinary tract infections; Treat swollen poison; Burns; Snakebite; Traumatic injuries.

Dosage and Administration: Oral: Decoction, 9-15g; ground into powder; soaked in alcohol; or steeped in boiling water for drinking. External: Appropriate amount, fresh plant crushed and applied topically; or decoction for washing or gargling.

Ecological Environment: Grows in sunny spots, under sparse woods, and in forest clearings and grasslands.

Resource Distribution: Distributed in the Northeast, North China, and south of the Qinling Mountains.

Herbal Source: The whole plant or fruit of Androsace umbellata from the Primulaceae family.

Harvest and Storage: The whole plant is harvested around Qingming Festival and dried in the sun.

Notes:

(1) For treating acute conjunctivitis, it is often used in combination with chrysanthemum and mulberry leaves; for trauma, it can be combined with Angelica sinensis, Ligusticum chuanxiong, and other herbs; for sore throats, it can be used alone or in combination with herbs such as Clerodendrum japonicum, Isatis root, and Sterculia lychnophora.

(2) Androsace umbellata, also known as Throat Moss, is called White Flower Pearl Grass in Shanghai herbal shops. It has a very bitter taste and is mainly used clinically for acute and chronic sore throats, particularly effective for chronic throat pain.

Pharmacological Action

The ethanol extract of Throat Moss, after lead acetate purification and saline solution preparation, shows significant cardiotonic effects on both ectothermic and endothermic animals’ isolated and in vivo hearts; after intravenous injection in rabbits and cats, blood pressure gradually increases, decreasing before death; it exhibits excitatory effects on isolated rabbit intestines and rat uterus; shows strong hemolytic activity in rabbits and guinea pigs.

When the saponins are removed using amyl alcohol and basic lead acetate, the extract still has a significant cardiotonic effect on isolated frog hearts, rat hearts, and in vivo guinea pig hearts, although the required doses increase.

The treated solution does not contain nonspecific cardiac stimulants like calcium or tannins but does contain sugars or other reducing substances.

V. Growth and Reproduction

Propagation is by seed sowing. The alpine summer is very short. Androsace umbellata germinates before the end of August, survives nine months in snow and ice, and flowers in June of the following year.

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Peggie

Peggie

Founder of FlowersLib

Peggie was once a high school mathematics teacher, but she set aside her chalkboard and textbooks to follow her lifelong passion for flowers. After years of dedication and learning, she not only established a thriving flower shop but also founded this blog, “Flowers Library”. If you have any questions or wish to learn more about flowers, feel free to contact Peggie.

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