Materia Medica, Pharmacology & Bio-Prospecting

Huang Hua Hao at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

Huang Hua Hao, also known as Artemesia Annua, as seen at the upper right corner of the page, is depicted in the Account of 814 Plants & Insects, Most of Which Are Reckoned Medicinal by the Chinese (c. 1800). This manuscript of Chinese herbal was collected by Rachel Hunt in 1939 and currently hosted at the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation. This depiction of the plant displays a colorful representation of the plant, showing its thin and spike-live leaves, with dark yellow flowers blossoming. In “Reflections on the ‘Discovery’ of the Antimalarial qinghao,” Elisabeth Hsu delves into further depth of the two different kinds of qinghao, the plant can either develop an emerald green tint on its leaves which would then grow to become a pine green color, while other’s bright green leaves would grow to become a bright yellow (which is Huang Hua Hao). (Hsu 2006, 669) Due to the detailed image and description in the Account of 814 Plants & Insects, it seems that this source is for readers that do not know about this plant and its nature. The characteristics of Huang Hua Hao, already understood at least since the 16th-century China, includes anti-inflammatory properties, antiferbile, and hemostatic properties. Current scholarship, such as in Bioactives and Nutraceuticals, confirmed its anti-inflammatory properties, as well as anti-microbial, anti-cholesterolemic, and antiviral properties. It is even used as a dietary spice for dietary purposes in the forms of an herbal tea in mild climates such as Korea, China, and Asia. In the Account of 814 Plants & Insects, the plant “Hwawng Hwa Hawo, is strong and bitter, and cure an ague.” Hsu describes the use of the plant, explaining how Tu Youyou (the Nobel Prize laureate of physiology or medicine in 2015) consulted the remedy preparation by Ge Hong (a 4th-century Chinese physician) to use cold temperature of the whole plant during the extraction process, as opposed in high temperature.


Hsu, Elisabeth. 2006. “Reflections on the 'Discovery' of the Antimalarial qinghao.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 61(6):666-70.
"Hwawng Hwa Hawo" (plant number 309). In Account of 814 Plants & Insects, Most of Which Are Reckoned Medicinal by the Chinese (ca.1800), Hunt Institute Library, DF6 340 C539.
Septembre-Malaterre, Axelle, Mahary Lalarizo Rakoto, Claude Marodon, Yosra Bedoui, Jessica Nakab, Elisabeth Simon, Ludovic Hoarau, et al. 2020. “Artemisia annua, a Traditional Plant Brought to Light.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, no. 14: 4986.

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