The story goes that a Mr. He, who had been
sickly from birth, noticed two trees growing together with their vines
embracing. Thinking this most odd, he dug up their roots and took them home
for food. Within days he was thinking about embracing someone himself and
within months his gray hair had returned to black. He got married shortly
thereafter and had a son. He and his son lived to be 130 and ever since
Polygonum multiflorum has been called He's Black Hair. You might say it is the
very elixir of life.
He Shou Wo, also called Fo Ti, is an ancient Chinese healing
herb particularly favored by older people. It is said, by the Chinese, to be a
'youth giving tonic' possessing even the quality to reduce the propensity of
gray hair on ones head.
According to Penelope Ody's excellent book Home Herbal, the rejuvenating
properties of Fo Ti make it a good tonic for problems, like menopause, that are
associated with run down kidney energies.
The sprawling twining runners of Fo Ti very quickly reach 30 feet and can cover
four square feet of fence or trellis in
about two months. This is a beautiful deep green vine that has stayed evergreen
at just below freezing. In England it is
sometimes referred to as fleeceflower and it is certainly an appropriate name.
When Fo Ti flowers, the little cream colored flowers are in such great
abundance it is as if the whole plant is covered with fine cotton.