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Cistanche

Updated: 2014-03-25
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Cistanche, regarded as "desert ginseng," is a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is also called roucongrong, a parasitic root plant produced in the deserts. Cistanche is often parasitic on red willow, a kind of bush known for its strong defense against sandstorms.

Cistanche

Growing the cistanche, the parasitic species with an economic value together with rose willow, which has environmental value, is the result of a plan devised by the locals of Huocheng, in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Huocheng county can take advantage of its Tukai desert – the only vast desert in Ili valley – to plant rose willows and nurture cistanches on the willows’ roots, which exert an influence in improving the environment while increasing the incomes of local farmers.

By planting rose willows, the county’s Shamenzi village, next to the desert, has been transformed from a barren desert to an ecological village surrounded by green forests.

Local authorities are revving up efforts to build a cistanche planting base. They have already constructed a set of irrigation pipes for better growth of rose willows and cistanches.