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Platycodon grandiflorus (from Greek "πλατυκώδων", meaning a broad bell) is a species of herbaceous flowering perennial plant of the family Campanulaceae, and the only member of the genus Platycodon. It is native to East Asia (China, Korea, Japan and East Siberia). This species is known as platycodon. Depending upon the region, it is also referred to as the Korean bellflower, Chinese bellflower, Japanese bellflower, common balloon flower, or balloon flower (referring to the balloon-shaped flower buds).
Growing to 60 cm (24 in) tall by 30 cm (12 in) wide, it is an herbaceous perennial with dark green leaves and blue flowers in late summer. A notable feature of the plant is the flower bud which swells like a balloon before fully opening. The five petals are fused together into a bell shape at the base, like its relatives, the campanulas. There are varieties with white, pink and purple blooms in cultivation. In Korea, white flowers are more common. This plant together with its cultivars 'Apoyama group' and 'Mariesii' have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
In Korea, the plant is known as doraji (도라지) and its root, either dried or fresh, is a popular ingredient in salads and traditional cuisine. The Chinese bellflower (called 桔梗 in Chinese) is also used in traditional Chinese medicine.
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The extracts and purified platycoside compounds (saponins) from the roots of Platycodon grandiflorum may exhibit neuroprotective, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-allergy, improved insulin resistance, and cholesterol-lowering properties. Evidence for these potential effects was mainly observed in vitro, with the exception of cholesterol lowering effects documented in vitro and in rats. The lack of efficacy and limited safety data in humans however, necessitates further research.
In Korea, the roots are commonly used for treating bronchitis, asthma, tuberculosis, diabetes, and other inflammatory diseases. In China, they are used as a cough suppressant and expectorant for common colds, cough, sore throat, tonsillitis, and chest congestion.
In popular culture
In the Taiwanese drama "Autumn's Concerto", 花拓也, Hua Tuo Ye refers to the woman of his affection, 梁慕橙 Liang Mu Cheng as a Chinese Bellflower.
"Ōta Kikyō" is another variant used by the Ōta clan.
In Japanese anime, a number characters have been named after the flower. Notable characters include the following.
- The priestess Kikyo from Inuyasha; according to creator Rumiko Takahashi, the character's name was chosen based on the language of flowers, where the Chinese bellflower means "unchanging love."
- The Cloud Real Six Funeral Wreath leader Kikyo from Katekyo Hitman Reborn! is also named after this flower, following the "one thousand flowers" naming of the Millefiore family.
- Kikyou (aka Reverse Sia) from the Shuffle! series is named after this flower, but her name is written in katakana rather than the actual kanji.
- Mahoro from Mahoromatic leaves flowers at the Grave of Commander Morisato every year and was known to Shugura as the "Bell Flower" person until late in the anime.
- RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Platycodon grandiflorus". Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Platycodon grandiflorus 'Apoyama group'". Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- "RHS Plant Selector - Platycodon grandiflorus 'Mariesii'". Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Nyakudya E.; Jeong JH.; Lee NK.; Jeong YS. (2014) “Platycosides from the Roots of Platycodon grandiflorum and Their Health Benefits.” Preventative Nutrition and Food Science 19 (2): 59-68. PMID 25054103.
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