Jiaogulan is a hardy perennial climber from the genus, Gynostemma, a native of southern and eastern Asia, which consists of two climbers that attach themselves by means of tendrils. Jiaogulan bears palmate leaves and toothed leaflets, with a three-inch terminal leaflet and small, yellow-green, star-shaped panicles of six-inch flowers that bloom in the summertime. The flowers are followed by smooth, very dark green fruits that are marked with white lines, and the vines grow to twenty-five feet in length and thrive in moist, well-drained soil in partial shade in a warm climate. Jiaogulan is called "The Immortality Herb " in China and has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as a remedy for hepatitis, tumors, bronchitis and peptic ulcers. The plant has a long history of folk use in the Guizhou province in China, and its properties are said to have been investigated when a Chinese census revealed a large number of elderly people in the province reported using it. Commercialization and scientific study of the leaves have been promoted by provincial Chinese authorities fairly recently, and the discovery that several ginseng saponins occur in the leaves prompted aggressive promotion of the product as a substitute for ginseng. Gynostemma pentaphyllum, also called jiaogulan (literally "twisting-vine-orchid") is an herbaceous vine of the family Cucurbitaceae (cucumber or gourd family) indigenous to the southern reaches of China, southern Korea and Japan. Jiaogulan is best known as an herbal medicine reputed to have powerful antioxidant and adaptogenic effects that increase longevity. Jiaogulan is a vine in which it may grow as a short lived perennial plant. It can be grown as an annual in most temperate climates, in well-drained soil with full sun. The plant is dioecious, meaning each plant exists either as male or female, thus if seeds are desired both a male and female plant must be grown. Unlike most of the Cucurbitaceae, jiaogulan does not show toxicity.
Jiaogulan Herbal Information from Herbal Extracts Plus, http://www.herbalextractsplus.com/jiaogulan.html (accessed January 24, 2017).
Jiaogulan Powder - Texas Natural Supply, http://www.texasnaturalsupply.com/Jiaogulan-Powder-p/jgln-hb.htm (accessed January 24, 2017).