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Triosteum himalayanum4 ies.jpg
Triosteum himalayanum fruits
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Dipsacales
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Subfamily: Caprifolioideae
Genus: Triosteum
Triosteum perfoliatum Triosteum perfoliatum Arkansas 2.jpg
Triosteum perfoliatum
Pyrenes SeedsTriosteum.jpg

Triosteum, commonly known in American English as horse-gentian [1] or, less commonly, feverwort, and, in Standard Chinese as 莛子藨属 (ting zi biao shu), is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the family Caprifoliaceae. A genus of six species in total, it has three species native to North America, and three more in eastern Asia.


Derivation of Genus Name

The name Triosteum is a compound of the Greek tria 'three' and osteon 'bone', in reference to the three hard pyrenes ( pips / pits ) in each drupe ( berry ) - giving the meaning 'having three pits ( as hard as ) bone'. [2]


Triosteum spp. are perennial, herbaceous plants of rich woods. Each plant typically consists of at least one erect, round, hairy, fistular stem, 1 to 4 feet (0.3 to 1.2m) high, with opposite ovate-lanceolate entire leaves, and whitish to purplish flowers presented either in axillary whorls or terminal racemes. The fruit is a drupe. [3] It may be white, yellow, orange, or red, depending on the species.


Five species and one variety are currently accepted by The Plant List [4] and a sixth species by the Online Flora of China: [5]

N.B. A problem exists in relation to the name Triosteum himalayanum Wallich., which has been applied to a specimen of the ( unrelated ) Lasianthus hirsutus belonging to the genus Lasianthus of the family Rubiaceae  : see link below to species pages in Online Flora of China 'Triosteum himalayanum ' and 'Lasianthus hirsutus'.

Ornamental Value

Certain species in the genus are sometimes cultivated for their colorful fruits, although the plants have been characterised as 'somewhat weedy perennials' and their flowers are, in general smaller and less showy than those of the related genus Lonicera, the Honeysuckles. [9]


American species : the dried and roasted fruits have been occasionally used as a substitute for coffee; but they are chiefly valued for their medicinal properties, the roots having been used as an emetic and mild cathartic. The drug is sometimes called Tinker's root, after Dr. Tinker, who first brought it to notice. [10]

Asiatic species : The ripe fruits of Triosteum himalayanum Wallich. have been used for 'blood purification' in the Himalayas. [10] The concept of a medicinal plant that 'purifies the blood' is not one recognised by modern medicine, although the effects of plants believed in folk medicine and more recently in alternative medicine to possess such a property are often cholagogue, laxative and / or diuretic. [11] [12]


Five monoterpene indole alkaloids (vincosamide-6′-O-β-d-glucopyranoside (1), vincosamide (2), strictosamide (3), strictosidine (4), and 5(S)-5-carboxystrictosidine (5)), two monoterpene diglycosides ( see Glycoside ) (urceolide (6) and 4(S)-4-hydroxyurceolide (7)) [13] and 10 iridoids, ( triohimas A–C, naucledal, secologanin dimethyl acetal, grandifloroside, sweroside, loganin, vogeloside and (E)-aldosecologanin ) have recently been isolated from the roots of Triosteum pinnatifidum Maxim. Most of the iridoids in question were derived from loganin or secologanin with a glucose moiety at C-1 position and these findings indicate a close relationship between the genera Triosteum and Lonicera, and support the viewpoint that the iridoids derived from loganin or secologanin could be considered chemotaxonomic markers for the family Caprifoliaceae. [14]

Related Research Articles

Honeysuckle genus of flowering plants

Honeysuckles are arching shrubs or twining vines in the family Caprifoliaceae, native to northern latitudes in North America and Eurasia. Approximately 180 species of honeysuckle have been identified in North America and Eurasia. Widely known species include Lonicera periclymenum, Lonicera japonica and Lonicera sempervirens. L. japonica is an aggressive, highly invasive species considered a significant pest on the continents of North America, Europe, South America, Australia, and Africa.

<i>Lonicera morrowii</i> Species of honeysuckle

Lonicera morrowii, the Morrow's honeysuckle, is a deciduous honeysuckle in the family Caprifoliaceae, native to Japan, Korea, and Northeast China. It is a shrub, reaching a height of 2–2.5 m, with oblong leaves 4–6 cm long. It leafs out quite early in the spring, and in North America is commonly the first deciduous shrub with foliage in March. The flowers are white to pale yellow, and the fruit is a dark red berry 7–8 mm diameter containing numerous seeds. The berries, while eaten frequently by birds, are considered poisonous to humans. It is colloquially called "bush honeysuckle" in the United States, and is considered an invasive species.

<i>Lonicera japonica</i> Flowering shrub known as Japanese honeysuckle

Lonicera japonica, known as Japanese honeysuckle and golden-and-silver honeysuckle, is a species of honeysuckle native to eastern Asia. It is often grown as an ornamental plant, but has become an invasive species in a number of countries. Japanese honeysuckle is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

<i>Lonicera periclymenum</i> Species of plant

Lonicera periclymenum, common names honeysuckle, common honeysuckle, European honeysuckle, or woodbine, is a species of flowering plant in the family Caprifoliaceae native to much of Europe, North Africa, Turkey and the Caucasus. It is found as far north as southern Norway and Sweden.

<i>Saponaria</i> Genus of flowering plants

Saponaria is a genus of flowering plants in the family Caryophyllaceae, native to Asia and Europe, and are commonly known as soapworts. They are herbaceous perennials and annuals, some with woody bases. The flowers are abundant, five-petalled and usually in shades of pink or white. The genus is closely related to Lychnis and Silene, being distinguished from these by having only two styles in the flower. It is also related to Gypsophila, but its calyx is cylindrical rather than bell-shaped.

<i>Filipendula</i> Genus of plants

Filipendula is a genus of 12 species of perennial herbaceous flowering plants in the family Rosaceae, native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Well-known species include meadowsweet and dropwort, both native to Europe, and queen-of-the-forest and queen-of-the-prairie, native to North America.

<i>Lonicera maackii</i> Species of plant in the family Caprifoliaceae native to western Asia

Lonicera maackii, the Amur honeysuckle, is a species of honeysuckle in the family Caprifoliaceae that is native to temperate western Asia; specifically in northern and western China south to Yunnan, Mongolia, Primorsky Krai in southeastern Siberia, Korea, and, albeit rare there, central and northern Honshū, Japan.

<i>Heptacodium</i> Monotypic genus of flowering plants in the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae

Heptacodium miconioides, the seven-son flower, is a species of flowering plant. It is the sole species in the monotypic genus Heptacodium, of the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae. The common name "seven-son flower" is a direct translation of the Standard Chinese name 七子花 qī zi huā.

<i>Lasianthus</i> Genus of flowering plants

Lasianthus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. They are tropical subshrubs, shrubs, or rarely, small trees. They inhabit the understory of primary forests. None of them are known to have any use.

<i>Linnaea amabilis</i> Species of flowering plant in the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae

Linnaea amabilis, also known under the synonym Kolkwitzia amabilis and the English name beauty bush, is a species of flowering plant in the family Caprifoliaceae. It is a deciduous shrub grown as an ornamental plant. In China, where it originated, the plant is called wèi shí (蝟实).

<i>Sambucus javanica</i> Species of plant

Sambucus javanica, the Chinese elder, is a species of elderberry in the family Adoxaceae native to subtropical and tropical Asia. It is found naturally in Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, southern Thailand, and Vietnam. It is a perennial herb or a small shrub 1–2 m tall.

<i>Diervilla lonicera</i> Species of flowering plant

Diervilla lonicera, commonly referred to as northern bush honeysuckle, low bush honeysuckle, dwarf bush honeysuckle, or yellow-flowered upright honeysuckle, is a deciduous shrub native to the northeastern United States and Canada. Its specific epithet, lonicera refers to its similarity in appearance to the true honeysuckles, genus Lonicera. It attracts bumblebees and is an important source of nectar for them.

<i>Linnaea chinensis</i> species of plant in the family Caprifoliaceae

Linnaea chinensis, synonyms Abelia chinensis and Abelia rupestris, is a species of flowering plant in the honeysuckle family Caprifoliaceae. It was described by Robert Brown in 1818, and transferred to the genus Linnaea in 1872, although this move was not widely accepted until 2013. The plant inhabits China, Taiwan and Japan. It is a compact deciduous shrub with reddish stems and glossy, small leaves that become reddish-brown before autumn. It is one of the most cold-resistant species within the genus.

<i>Delphinium exaltatum</i> Species of flowering plant

Delphinium exaltatum, known by the common name tall larkspur, is a species of flowering plant in the genus Delphinium, part of the buttercup family. Other Delphinium species are also commonly known as tall larkspur, such as Delphinium barbeyi. D. exaltatum is native to the central and eastern United States, where it can be found in Kentucky, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and Missouri.

Cardiopteris is a genus of vines in the family Cardiopteridaceae described as a genus in 1834.

<i>Ribes diacanthum</i> Species of currant

Ribes diacanthum, the Siberian currant, is an Asian species of currant. It is native to northeastern Asia. The species is also sparingly naturalised in the Canadian Province of Manitoba, having escaped in the 1940s from an agricultural experiment station near Brandon.

<i>Lonicera similis</i> Species of honeysuckle

Lonicera similis is a species of flowering plant in the family Caprifoliaceae, native to Western China. This honeysuckle is known in cultivation by the variety delavayi which is reported by some authorities to be synonymous with L. similis itself. It is a large, twining, semi-evergreen shrub growing to 8 m (26 ft) tall by 1.5 m (4.9 ft) broad, with a profusion of fragrant tubular flowers opening white and ageing to yellow, in late summer and autumn. The flowers are followed by black berries. The Latin specific epithet similis means “similar to”. It is similar in appearance to L. japonica, but larger and more robust. The name delavayi honours the French missionary and botanist Père Jean Marie Delavay (1834-1895).

<i>Lonicera tragophylla</i> Species of honeysuckle

Lonicera tragophylla, the Chinese honeysuckle, is a species of flowering plant in the family Caprifoliaceae, native to Central China, where it inhabits forest, scrub and rocky crevices. Growing to 6 m (20 ft) tall by 1.5 m (4.9 ft) wide, it is a deciduous climbing shrub with grey-green leaves and trumpet-shaped, pure rich yellow flowers in late summer and autumn. Unlike many of its relatives in the honeysuckle genus Lonicera, it is unscented.

<i>Lonicera acuminata</i> Species of vine

Lonicera acuminata, commonly known as fragrant grove honeysuckle or vine honeysuckle, is a plant species of honeysuckle native to China to Southeast Asia and India.

<i>Ilex umbellulata</i> Species of holly

Ilex umbellulata is an evergreen tree species related to holly, generally four to fifteen metres in height. It is found in Southeast Asia. This tree is most often found growing in forests.


  1. "Triosteum". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA . Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  2. Linnaeus, Carl Species Plantarum 1: 176. 1753.
  3. Jacobs, B.; Lens, F.; Smets, E. (2009), "Evolution of fruit and seed characters in the Diervilla and Lonicera clades (Caprifoliaceae, Dipsacales)", Annals of Botany, 104 (2): 253–276, doi:10.1093/aob/mcp131, PMC   2710890 , PMID   19502353
  4. "Search for 'Triosteum'". The Plant List. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  5. Gould, K. R., Donoghue, M. J. (2000). "Phylogeny and biogeography of Triosteum (Caprifoliaceae)" (PDF). Harvard Papers in Botany. 5 (1): 157–166.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. Yang, Qiner; Landrein, Sven; Osborne, Joanna; Borosova, Renata. "Triosteum himalayanum". Flora of China. 19 via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  7. Yang, Qiner; Landrein, Sven; Osborne, Joanna; Borosova, Renata. "Triosteum pinnatifidum". Flora of China. 19 via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  8. Yang, Qiner; Landrein, Sven; Osborne, Joanna; Borosova, Renata. "Triosteum sinuatum". Flora of China. 19 via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  9. The Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening ed. Chittenden, Fred J., 2nd edition, by Synge, Patrick M. Volume IV : Pt-Zy Pub. Oxford at the Clarendon Press 1965. Reprinted 1984. ISBN   0-19-869106-8 p.2149.
  10. 1 2 Quattrocchi, Umberto (2012). CRC World dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms and etymology. Volume V R-Z. CRC Press Taylor and Francis Group. pps. 636-7.
  11. Re. pseudoscientific notion of 'blood purification' retrieved 4.16pm on 2/5/18.
  12. retrieved 4.27pm on 2/5/18.
  13. Chai,Xin, Su,Yan-Fang, Yan,Shi-Lun, Huang,Xiong Chemical Constituents of the Roots of Triosteum pinnatifidum Chemistry of Natural Compounds 50(6) November 2014. Retrieved 11.20am on 4/5/18
  14. Chai,Xin, Su,Yan-Fang, Zheng,Yunhui and Gao,Xiu-Mei Iridoids from the roots of Triosteum pinnatifidum Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 38(2):210-212.April 2010. Retrieved 11.16am on 4/5/18