Journal of Natural Medicines

, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 340–350 | Cite as

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

Original Paper


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.


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

Supplementary material

11418_2013_802_MOESM1_ESM.tif (726 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 725 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Pharmacognosy and Springer Japan 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Pharmaceutical SciencesPeking University Health Science CenterBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Chinese MedicineHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong Kong Special Administrative RegionPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Institute of Medicinal Plant DevelopmentChinese Academy of Medical ScienceBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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