Forsythia Fruit: Overview
In nearly every northern climate, Forsythia is one of the first plants to bloom in spring. Its vibrant yellow flowers are unmistakable. And for centuries, the fruit of the shrub – a small, nut-like capsule – has been used in Eastern medicine.
The fruit, which looks a small pecan, is commonly used in teas and tinctures, and it has a slightly bitter flavor with a fragrant, flowery aroma. Known as Lian Qian in Chinese, forsythia fruit is revered for its many healing properties. The fruit is used to detoxify, to treat respiratory infections, to support digestion, and soothe nausea.
Forsythia Fruit: Common Uses
Forsythia fruit is one of the oldest ingredients in traditional medicine and was widely used in ancient China to treat respiratory infections. The fruit – which includes a small wing-like seed – is traditionally prepared in three ways:
- Infusions – Most commonly forsythia is infused in teas and juices. The fruit’s essential oils add a touch of bitter, herbal flavor and they’re traditionally steeped overnight in concoctions. In tea, the fruits are commonly mixed with honeysuckle, lilac, flowers and other herbs.
- Extracts – The fruits can be processed into an oil that’s widely used in a range of healing products. Forsythia is a common ingredient in acne creams, shampoos, and natural hair growth treatments.
- Syrups – Forsythia flowers can be used to create a rich, golden syrup. The syrup is great over pancakes, ice cream and other sweet snacks.
Forsythia originates in eastern Asia. In fact, of the 11 species almost all are native to China, with one being found primarily in southeastern Europe. The plant – also known as Easter tree (due to its spring blooms) or Golden Bell – has a long history in traditional healing.
The varietal most commonly used in traditional medicine is Forsythia suspensa. (In fact, it’s known as one of the 50 foundational Chinese herbs.) As early as 400 B.C. the herb was being used, and it was most commonly prescribed for bacterial infections, fevers, and respiratory infections.
Forsythia is a member of the olive family, and it’s found all over the world. Although native to China, the plant was brought to Europe and the U.S. in the 17th century. The plant is much more common today than it was many years ago. In the 1800s, Forsythia began being used by gardeners in Europe, which led to its increasing use in landscaping.
By WWI, American gardeners were developing a cold-hardy variety, which is found all over the northern U.S. Today, it’s most commonly planted as an ornamental, and it’s often the first to bloom each spring.
The forsythia plant is a small shrub that climbs to about 2-10 feet in height, and the two most common varietals are Forsythia intermedia and Forsythia suspensa. The former is primarily planted as an ornamental, while Forsythia suspensa is cultivated for its fruit.
Forsythia is a tough plant, known for growing in harsh climates. Native to the mountainous regions of eastern Asia, the shrub can grow very tall and it’s prone to creeping. The plants thrive in full sun and grow a seed capsule “fruit” later in the season. The seeds appear as green pods, which are harvested while green and dried and dehydrated.
Once dried, the fruit is a pale brown color, which looks like a pecan shell.
About Our Forsythia Fruit
Burma Spice sources our forsythia fruit from China’s Henan Province. Known as the birthplace of Chinese civilization, Henan produces many of China’s most important medicinal herbs. The region is located in central China, and has cultivated forsythia flowers and fruit for thousands of years.
We purchase forsythia fruit in bulk and hand package it in our spice shop in South Florida. China-growth forsythia is known for its bitter, yet flowery taste, and is dried using traditional methods.