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Radix Notoginseng (Sanqi)

It is mainly produced in Guangxi and Yunnan provinces, but now the majority is cultivated ones.  Those collected before blossom in autumn are half dried under the sun and rubbed.  Then they are further dried and rubbed everyday until completely dried.  Afterwards they are put in a bag and bumped till the surface becomes smooth.  This root is called the “spring notoginseng”, which is well shaped with small, short and dense or inconspicuous wrinkles on the surface, and considered as the best quality.  Those collected after the seeds are taken out are called the “winter notoginseng”. They are poorly shaped with numerous, deep and long wrinkles or distinct groves, considered as the lower quality. 

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Identification

The main root is somewhat conical or cylindrical, 1-6cm long and 1-4cm in diameter.  Externally it is grayish-brown or grayish-yellow with interrupted longitudinal wrinkles and branch root scars, surrounded by warty processes.  Its texture is heavy and compact, and the phellem and xylem are easily separated after shredding. The cross section is grayish-green, yellowish-green or grayish-white (related to the storage time) with small brownish dots and radiate lines. It has a slight odor and tastes bitter, and the aftertaste is sweet. The above indicates the best quality. Those with lighter-colored cross section and tasteless are of the lower quality.

 Quality identification

In the market it is divided into two categories—“spring notoginseng” and “winter notoginseng”.  Each category is further classified into different grades, which vary in price.

 Commonly Seen Fake Ones

In the market, Radix et Rhizoma Gynura Segetum (Lour.) Merr. is the fake one, which looks like a fist.  Externally it is grayish-brown or brownish-yellow. The fresh ones are purplish-red with warty processes. Its texture is heavy and compact. It has a slight odor, and its cross section is light yellow. Another fake one is Rhizoma Anredera Cordifolia (Tenore) Vansteenis. Its root is somewhat cylindrical or in irregular lumps packs. Its cross section is starchy. After cooked in water and dried, it looks cuticular. It tastes slightly sweet and sticky when chewed.
 
The common fake ones are those prepared from Rhizoma Zedoriae (Ezhe), which is slightly fragrant with circular nodules and root scars.
At present, some so called Radix notoginseng powder is made from the wastes of the herb or mixed with other impurities.  It has a little bit bitter taste, and the color is from yellow to gray. The genuine powder tastes bitter and the aftertaste is sweet, it is yellowish-green in color.
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