Gastrodia elata

Gastrodia elata
Fukushima pref., Japan
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Subfamily: Epidendroideae
Genus: Gastrodia
Species: G. elata
Binomial name
Gastrodia elata
  • G. e. f. alba
  • G. e. f. elata
  • G. e. f. flavida
  • G. e. f. glauca
  • G. e. f. viridis
  • Gastrodia viridis Makino (1902)
  • Gastrodia mairei Schltr. (1913)
  • Gastrodia elata var. gracilis Pamp. (1915)
  • Gastrodia elata f. pilifera Tuyama (1941)

Gastrodia elata is a saprophytic perennial herb in the Orchidaceae family. It is found in Nepal, Bhutan, India, Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyuushu [1]), North Korea, Siberia, Taiwan as well as China (in the provinces of Jilin, Liaoning, Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Shanxi, Shanxi, Gansu, Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Henan, Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, and Tibet) grow at elevations of 400–3200 meters at the edge of forest.[2]

The herb is used in Traditional Chinese medicine and Sichuan cuisine. It is one of the three orchids listed in the earliest known Chinese Materia Medica (Shennon bencaojing) (c. 100 AD). Medicinally, it is used for 'calming the liver'and for treating headaches, dizziness, tetanus, and epilepsy.[3] According to "Nutrition Review," "Gastrodia root has been shown to exert novel pain relief and inflammatory-mediating activities, as well as in vivo and in vitro inhibitory activity on nitric oxide (NO) production." [4]


The plant has an 8-12 centimeters long elliptical underground rhizome with a diameter of 3-5 centimeters but may grow up to 7 centimeters. The stem is erect with a height of 0.3-1 meter up to 2 meters, the orange yellow, tan, cylinder, and leafless.

The flowered pale olivine or the orange red, the scape is length 5-30 centimeters, longest may be 50 centimeters. Floral Bractsare long lanceolate, length 1-1.5 centimeters; Pedicel and ovary of branch 0.7-1.2 centimeter, slightly short in colored bract; The sepal and the petal produce a slanting pot shape perianth tube, the perianth tube long the approximately 1 centimeter, the diameter 5-7 millimeters, The labellum white, circular, with a length of 6-7 millimeters and width of 3-4 millimeters, the tip 3 cracks, the base pastes the tight pistil column full terminal, has a pair of pulp callus, in the callus connection perianth tube. The pistil column length 5-7 millimeters, have the short pistil column foot.[1]

Capsule each approximately 30, oval or but actually oval, length 1.2-1.8 centimeters, width 8-9 millimeters. The seed are most, 2 - 40,000 grains of each fruit, minimum, powdery. Flowering season June to July, fruit time July to August.[5]


Gastrodia elata grows in symbiosis with the fungus Armillaria mellea on rotting wood, depending on the hypha of the fungus to invade the root system so that the plant can absorb nutrients from A. mellea.

Chemical properties

4-Hydroxybenzaldehyde and gastrodin can be found in the orchid G. elata.[6] It also produces 2,4-Bis(4-hydroxybenzyl) phenol,[7] gastrol, gastrodigenin and other related compounds.[8]


  1. 1 2 芦笛 (2009). 天麻、赤箭、徐长卿、鬼督邮名实考. 中医文献杂志 (in Chinese). 27 (4). ISSN 1006-4737. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  2. 昆明植物研究所. 天麻. 《中国高等植物数据库全库》 (in Chinese). 中国科学院微生物研究所. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  3. Chung-Fen Tsaia, 1, Chuen-Lin Huangb, c, 1, Yun-Lian Lind, Yi-Chao Leee, Ying-Chen Yangf, Nai-Kuei Huangd, g, "The neuroprotective effects of an extract of Gastrodia elata",Journal of Ethnopharmacology Volume 138, Issue 1, 31 October 2011, Pages 119-125
  4. Jim English (2010). "Traditional Chinese Herbs for Arthritis". Nutrition Review. 5 (2). Retrieved 2011-12-29.
  5. 陈心启、吉占和、郎楷永 等, ed. (October 1999). 中国植物志 第18卷 (PDF) (in Chinese). 北京: 科学出版社. pp. 31-33. ISBN 978-7-03-007322-8. Retrieved 2010-01-24.
  6. 4-Hydroxybenzaldehyde from Gastrodia elata B1. is active in the antioxidation and GABAergic neuromodulation of the rat brain. Jeoung-Hee Ha, Dong-Ung Lee, Jae-Tae Lee, Jin-Sook Kim, Chul-Soon Yong, Jung-Ae Kim, Jung-Sang Ha and Keun- Huh, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Volume 73, Issues 1-2, November 2000, Pages 329-333, doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(00)00313-5
  7. 2,4-Bis(4-hydroxybenzyl) phenol from Gastrodia elata. Naoki Noda, Yukio Kobayashi, Kazumoto Miyahara and Saeko Fukahori, doi:10.1016/0031-9422(95)00051-8
  8. Phenolic compounds from Gastrodia rhizome and relaxant effects of related compounds on isolated smooth muscle preparation. Junko Hayashi, Toshikazu Sekine, Shigeyoshi Deguchi, Qing Lin, Syunji Horie, Shizuko Tsuchiya, Shingo Yano, Kazuo Watanabe and Fumio Ikegami, Phytochemistry, Volume 59, Issue 5, March 2002, Pages 513–519, doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(02)00008-0
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