Baical Skullcap, called Huang Qin in Mandarin, is an herb native to China that has long been used as one of the 50 fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine practices. Typically, the root is harvested in spring or autumn for medicinal applications. While long used to treat a variety of ailments, extensive research is being done on Chinese Skullcap as a clinical remedy, especially for infections, allergies, inflammations, and hypertension. The first recorded use of Scutellaria baicalensis was written during the Zhou dynasty 3000 years ago, and yet again described in preparations for lung and liver problems in the classic Han dynasty medicine book Shennong Ben Cao Jing 2000 years ago. Other uses in TCM include as a diuretic, antiviral, antibacterial, for respiratory issues, and as fever alleviator. Baical Skullcap is seen as a cooling agent, best used in treating ‘hot and damp’ conditions. The plant’s most noted bioactive compounds are baicalen and baicalin. The root of the plant is best harvested after at least two years of growth, and they should be a bright yellow-gold when good to use.
The violet lipped blossoms of skullcap are certain to be visited by happy pollinators, and can create a beautiful swath of blue in one’s garden. These low shrubs work well as a hedge plant, and can withstand dry conditions.