Tong cao

Category: Medicines - plant based



Introduction and description


Tetrapanax papyrifer (通草—tong cao,  Tetrapanax papyrifera (HOOK.) K.KOCH (Araliaceae) is commonly known as the  Rice Paper Tree, Tong-Cao, and Tung-Tsao.

The rice paper plant is now the sole species in the genus Tetrapanax.

It is endemic to Taiwan, but widely cultivated in East Asia and sometimes in other tropical regions as well.

It grows to 3-7 m tall, with usually unbranched stems 2 cm diameter bearing a rosette of large leaves at the top (superficially similar to a palm crown). The leaves are carried on 40-60 cm petioles, the leaf blade orbicular, 30-50 cm across, deeply palmately lobed with 5-11 primary lobes, the central lobes larger and Y-forked near the end. It spreads extensively by sprouts from the root system underground.

The inflorescence is a large panicle of hemispherical to globular umbels near the end of the stem. The flowers have 4 or 5 small white petals. The fruit is a small drupe


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