What Is Glehnia Littoralis?

Health / Life

A glehnia littoralis plant. / Photo by: Qwert1234 via Wikimedia Commons


Glehnia littoralis is a perennial plant that is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Also called beach silvertop or American silvertop, it belongs in the genus glehnia which is named after the Russian botanist Peter von Glehn.

Glehnia littoralis is the only species in the glehnia genus and it also belongs to the Apiaceae family, the family that carrots and parsley belong to.


The efficacy of Glehnia littoralis

A man having migraine. / Photo by: Kittinan Sraphongdee via Shutterstock


Glehnia littoralis is traditionally used to treat conditions like bronchitis, pneumonia, soreness, body aches, fever, headaches, migraines, rashes, eczema, and constipation.

It is also used to alleviate cough or cold-related soreness and to rehydrate the body in the recovery period after an illness.

In Japan, glehnia littoralis is called hamaboufuu and it is reportedly registered in the Japanese Herbal Medicines Codex. Hamaboufuu is used as a remedy for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, stiff shoulders, and headaches.

The Glehnia roots are believed to have analgesic, antibacterial, antipyretic, diaphoretic, and expectorant properties.


Tips for cooking Glehnia root

A boiling water. / Photo by: Africa Studio via Shutterstock


The thin and cylindrical glehnia root is usually prepared by washing and scalding them in boiling water to remove its skin. They are then sliced or cut into small segments and dried.

You can prepare it in a similar way when cooking glehnia and the recipe didn’t specify a way to prepare the glehnia root. Other recipes, on the other hand, would just instruct you to wash the glehnia root and boiling it without removing the skin.

If you were able to find dried glehnia roots, it would not be necessary to wash and prepare them the way you would prepare fresh glehnia roots.

Aside from its roots, the glehnia littoralis’ leaves, stems, and young buds are all considered edible. The dried glehnia roots can also be ground up and used as a condiment similar tarragon.


Making a side dish with Glehnia littoralis

A bangpung dish. / Photo by: Nice via Wikimedia Commons


If you want to try cooking glehnia littoralis, you can try making the Seasoned Bangpung namul, a Korean side dish made with glehnia littoralis (bangpung) leaves.

Start by washing the leaves carefully by separating the leaves from the stems and running them under cold water as you move the leaves around to dislodge any debris and dirt stuck on the leaves.

Then, blanch the glehnia littoralis leaves with some salt and boiling water for 3 minutes, making sure each leaf is covered well. Remove them from the boiling water with a mesh spoon and rinse them under cold running water before squeezing the moisture out of the leaves with your hands firmly.

When you squeeze out the water, the leaves would form a ball shape. Don’t try to separate each leaf, just roughly slice this ball-shaped form into three similar-sized portions.

In a mixing bowl, combine a tablespoon of soybean paste, a tablespoon of minced garlic, a tablespoon of chopped green onions, a tablespoon of plum extract, and ground sesame seeds with the glehnia littoralis leaves. Mix them well. Finish it off with some sesame oil.


Where can you find Glehnia littoralis?

Boseong Tea Fields, South Korea. / Photo by: Vincent St. Thomas via Shutterstock


According to the California Native Plant Society, the glehnia littoralis is native to eastern Asia, specifically in China, Japan, and Russia. It’s also native in the western part of North America, from Alaska all the way to northern California. It’s also found in the Korean peninsula and in western Canada.

If you live in an area where glehnia littoralis is not commonly found, it may be very difficult to find them. Nevertheless, you may be able to find them at specialty stores or Asian markets that sell fresh or dried glehnia roots and even pills or powders made with glehnia.


Can you start planting Glehnia seedlings at home?

A man planting a seedling. / Photo by: g-stockstudio via Shutterstock


According to a 2016 study published in the journal Scientific Reports, glehnia littoralis naturally grows along temperate sandy coasts around the Pacific Ocean.

However, they are not in danger of being extinct due to habitat loss and exploitation. Currently, glehnia littoralis plants are only found at a few remote coasts where tourism is not typically present.

The study also reported that there are strict conservation measures that are being done by the Chinese government for glehnia because of the plant’s significant efficacy on lung diseases, but the researchers explained that this won’t likely help the plant thrive.

Similarly, you may be unable to provide an ideal environment for the glehnia littoralis plant if you ever decide to plant it at home. They thrive on temperate sandy coasts where they are exposed to a lot of different environmental factors.

The researchers of the Scientific Reports study themselves explained that ex situ conservation or off-site conservation would hardly present the ideal situation for the glehnia littoralis plant to thrive.


The price of Glehnia littoralis

A person shelling out money to buy a glehnia product. / Photo by: Yulia Grigoryeva via Shutterstock


There is no doubt that you can find a lot of products made with glehnia littoralis, from supplements and extracts to soup mixes and root powders.

The price of glehnia littoralis products are typically quite expensive. For instance, glehnia littoralis extracts are available for around $6 per ounce. This might be especially true for places where glehnia littoralis plants are not native.

But even if you are able to find and purchase them, you have to be wary about taking supplements. Even if they’re touted with several health benefits, it may be better to consult your doctor to make sure they’re not going to interact with any medications you might be taking.