Identification of chinese herbal medicines by fluorescence microscopy: Fluorescent characteristics of medicinal bark

X. Huang, Zhitao Liang, Hubiao Chen, Zhongzhen Zhao*, P. Li

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Summary: Medicinal bark refers to structures outside the vascular cambium of stems, branches and roots of gymnospermous and dicotyledonous plants that are used as medicinal materials; bark is an important type of Chinese herbal medicine. However, identification of the species from which the bark comes can be very difficult, especially when the bark is dried and sliced. In our previous studies, we have found that fluorescence microscopy is a powerful tool for the identification of easily confused Chinese herbal medicines, powdered Chinese herbal medicines and decoction dregs. To establish the fluorescent characteristics by which medicinal barks can be identified, for ensuring their safe and effective use, a systematic microscopic investigation by normal light and fluorescence microscope was carried out on transverse section samples of 11 medicinal barks commonly used in China. Specifically, the fluorescent characteristics of mechanical tissues, including stone cells and fibres as well as secretory tissues, have been observed. The microscopic features of medicinal bark are here systematically and comparatively described and illustrated. Under the fluorescence microscope, various tissues emitted fluorescence of different colours, and we found that both the colours and the intensity can be used to distinguish and identify these barks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-22
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Microscopy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Fibres
  • Fluorescence microscopy
  • Medicinal bark
  • Normal light microscopy
  • Secretory tissues
  • Stone cells


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