Platycodondon grandiflorus, Balloon flower, Jie Geng (root)

Playcodon grandiflorus, Balloon Flower, is a member of the bellflower family (Campanulaceae). Robert Fortune (1812–1880), a Scottish botanist, in the beginning of 1844, Fortune sent roots of the plant to the Horticultural Society at Chiswick, introducing the first live balloon flower plants to England. The plant is a popular ornamental in American gardens, though it is little known as a medicinal and food plant. The dried roots can be found in any Korean grocery, ready as a soup base. In TCM the root is valued in prescriptions for throat and lung ailments, among many other uses. In Japan and Korea, balloon flower is cultivated as a food plant for its edible roots. The blanched young leaves are eaten as a salad in mountainous regions of Japan. Dried packaged balloon flower roots for making soup are widely available in Asian groceries, primarily used in Korean cuisine.

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