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Incarvillea sinensis is a small shrubby plant endemic to Mongolia, occurring in dry steppe regions where the soil is mainly sandy loam. There, the plant likes total exposure and dry climate where it easily propagates by seed (of which there is no dormancy period). This species has a sensitive stigma, and its two open stigmatic lobes close soon after being touched by a pollinator, but always reopen if no or only little pollen was deposited. Some sources say flowers take some 1-2 years to come about but I've personally witnessed it happen within less than 5 months. It contains a potent analgesic monoterpene alkaloid, incarvillateine, many times more potent in its antinociceptive properties than morphine. I thought I'd have a crack at growing this plant because being in pain-free is pretty fun, right? There doesn't appear to be many people growing this plant and there is skant info in that regard. One good source is this SAB thread (thanks mindperformer!) where you'll find links to some papers, etc, and some good closeup shots of mindperformers home-grown plants. You can find some decent info here as well but no personal writeups of growing the plant. If you'd like to have a crack at growing them then you can definitely get seed here and here (in the UK). There are a few other species of Incarvillea growing in the bot gardens in Melbourne so they mustn't do too badly down here. I've heard that the seed responds well to the cold in order to wake it up, improving germination rates so I've put a few seeds in a take-away container in some moist (but not wet) standard potting mix and put them in the fridge. In two weeks I'll take them out of the fridge and into a shaded area where they won't dry out. You might not be able to tell from the photo but the seed is pretty tiny, about half the size of a chilli seed, and they look exactly alike. Fingers crossed I get some seedlings out of this!
Incarvillateine has a very strange structure: The highly substituted 1,3-dicarboxy-cyclobutane Incarvillateine occurs in the chinese plant Incarvillea sinensis with the traditional names Cheron, Jiao hao, Tougucao and Yuan bian zhong. The name of the genus, Incarvillea, came from the botanist Petrus d'Incarville who lived in Peking from 1740 to 1757. The plant is distributed from Yunnan in the south to Siberia in the north and Tibet in the West. Incarvillea sinensis also contains the macrocyclic spermine alkaloids Incasines A,B, C and Verballocine, the monoterpene alkaloids Incarvilline, Incarvine A,B,C,D and Methoxycarvillateine and the flavonoid Isoliquiritin. It is one of the traditional herbal medicines in China, Tibet and Mongolia and is mainly used to treat rheumatism and relieve pain. Besides it is udes for detoxification, against cough, as laxative, jointache, cramps, eczemas, inflammations in the mouth, carbuncle, skin ailments, spongy gums, ulcers and wounds in chinese medicine. And against chronic bronchitis, dry cough, lung abscess, otitis media, veneral disease, flatulence and dry faecal in mongolian medicine. It is used in dosages from 5-15g, cooked in water or external use by a wrap with the dry powder. The analgesic index (ED50) of Incarvillateine is better than Morphine (1,06-1,33 times) and appears to have a lower ceiling effect than Morphine! Responsible for the analgesic properties is an agonistic action on mu- and kappa-opioid- receptors and an antagonistic on adenosine-receptors: http://www.ncbi.nlm....pubmed/16204962 In my experience 2g of the herb were definively analgesic and opioid. In chinese, mongolian and tibetan medicine many Incarvillea- species are used medicinally, especially as analgesic: Incarvillea delavayi which contains the analgesic monoterpene alkaloid Delavayine A. Incarvillea arguta which contains the bacteriostatic and sedative Argutone. Incarvillea dissectifoliola which contains the monoterpene glycoside Dissectol A. My Incarvillea sinensis- plants: And dry Incarvillea delavayi- leaves: