Microscopic research on a multi-source traditional Chinese medicine, Astragali Radix

Kun Zi Yu, Jing Liu, Bao Lin Guo, Zhongzhen ZHAO, Hao Hong, Hubiao CHEN*, Shao Qing Cai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Astragali Radix is a widely and commonly used Chinese herbal medicine, which is derived from roots of Astragalus membranaceus var. mongholicus and Astragalus membranaceus. To find a quick and reliable method of distinguishing these two species of Astragali Radix and of determining the age of a sample, microscopic characteristics of the two species were compared using light microscopy. The results showed that the microscopic characteristics, such as number of layers of phellem, continuing lignified xylem bundles within spring wood and lignified parenchyma cells in the central part of the xylem could be used for the differentiation of the root of A. membranaceus from the root of A. membranaceus var. mongholicus. Growth rings (annual rings) were found for the first time in the roots of both species, and could determine the age of a sample. For the first time, radial fibers in both species of Astragali Radix and pipette-shaped fibers in A. membranaceus var. mongholicus were found. The structure of "rotten heart" cork tissue (decayed central xylem) and tubular cork tissue was carefully studied, and the arranged order of tissues in both "rotten heart" and tubular cork tissues is phelloderm and phellem from outside to inside, which is contrary to that in the periderm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-350
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Natural Medicines
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Organic Chemistry

User-Defined Keywords

  • Astragali Radix
  • Astragalus membranaceus
  • Astragalus membranaceus var. mongholicus
  • Microscopic characteristics
  • Pipette-shaped fiber
  • Radial fiber


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