Schisandra chinensis - Five Flavour Berry
Every so often you come across a plant that has amazing properties but is, for whatever reason, under represented in domestic cultivation in the Uk. Schisandra chinensis is, to my mind, one such plant. Originating from China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula it was introduced to the Uk around 1860. Having spent quite some time in the Manchurian area of China, where this plant grows in abundance and where large swathes of red berries growing in the wild are not an uncommon sight in autumn, I feel I can speak with some authority
Shisandra in Chinese pinyin is written thus: w? wi zi, and translates literally into "Five flavour berry". This in acknowledgment of the fact the berries taste of all five flavours - salty, sweet, sour, pungent (spicy), and bitter. In addition to their edible prowess, high in vitamin C and other antioxidants and used in juices, wines, extracts and tea, the berries have long been valued as a superior medicinal plant. In Traditional Chinese Medicine they are one of the 50 "Fundamental" herbs and Russian scientists have conducted considerable substantive research. There is plenty of further detail on the web and Wikipedia has an informative listing for this plant
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schisandra_chinensi... So how do you grow these plants successfully? An attractive deciduous twining climber, small white to the palest pink fragrant flowers are produced in late spring and are followed by clusters of bright red edible berries. They require a support to cling to, a semi shade location and moist, fertile, well drained soil. Given these simple requirements and they will romp away. Contrary to some authorities, they are quite hardy. Temperatures in the Manchurian province of Liaoning seldom rise above -15c during the day in winter and are often below -25c at night. In Heilongjiang they are even colder
The one thing you must be aware of is that the plants are dioceous, male and female flowers are produced on different plants. To obtain berries you need both. (Should not come as much of a surprise
). There is no practical way to tell the sex of the plant before it flowers so we only offer 3 plants as one sale to be fairly sure you have both male and female plants Best planted in borders, these plants require a frame work of some description to twine around. If they become too large they can easily be cut back. When growing in a pot or other container make sure it is large. Use a good quality John Innes compost as this plant will be there a long time and peaty types of compost eventually degrade and become too packed and choke the roots. Ensure you feed regularly as a hungry plant is a poor performer. We recommend Osmoscote pro 8-9 month applied in early spring. One application gives all the nutrients the plant requires for the whole year. John Innes is a soils based compost. THE BERRIES MUST NOT BE EATEN BY PREGNANT WOMEN.