Heavenly Bamboo, Nandina Domestica

I recently noticed that the Heavenly Bamboo shrub is in the Barberry family, related to Barberry and Oregon Grape. I see a lot of conflicting information on this shrub - it has hydrocyanic acid and nandenine. Some sources say the berries are edible, but not the seeds, some say it's medicinal, some say young leaves are edible if double boiled like pokeweed. I tend to steer away from eating/making medicine from questionable plants. I do have a LOT on my property, and no barberry or oregon grape. So I am trying to determine if they are a good substitute for Barberry, or if the toxic components should steer me away.


  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,353 admin

    It does have some herbal use, and I grow it. You do have to be careful with it though. I mainly grow it as a hedge/border.

    Herb: Sacred Bamboo

    Latin name: Nandina domestica

    Family: Berberidaceae (Barberry Family)

    Medicinal use of Sacred Bamboo: The roots and stems are antitussive, astringent, febrifuge, stomachic and tonic. A decoction is used in the treatment of fever in influenza, acute bronchitis, whooping cough, indigestion, acute gastro-enteritis, tooth abscess, pain in the bones and muscles and traumatic injuries. It is especially useful in the treatment of children's coughs. There is a danger that an overdose can cause respiratory paralysis. A decoction of the leaves is tonic. The fruit is febrifuge and tonic. Another report says that it is toxic, so great care should be employed if using it. The root is antirheumatic. Young shoots contain high concentrations of laetrile - up to 20% on a zero moisture basis.

    medicinal herbs: SACRED BAMBOO - Nandina domestica (naturalmedicinalherbs.net)

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,816 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2021

    I always wanted these at my other house and was happy to see them planted at this house UNTIL... I found out that the berries are poisonous to wildlife. Now I go out an prune away all the berries before hungry wildlife can be tempted to try them.

    I may yet remove them, I am certainly not brave enough to make medicine out of a dangerous plant.

  • csinclair461
    csinclair461 Posts: 159 ✭✭✭

    Ok, thank you @judsoncarroll4 and @shllnzl, I will not attempt to use it until I've studied it a lot more. I have seen the info on how the berries are poisonous to wildlife. I have also read that it's the seed that's poisonous, not the fruit, and that as long as there are other options available, birds do not tend to eat enough of it to die from it. No idea if they get ill or not though.

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 721 ✭✭✭✭

    I see this everywhere- was hoping it was useful

  • csinclair461
    csinclair461 Posts: 159 ✭✭✭

    @nicksamanda11 I believe it is useful, I have seen info that it's been used in China as medicine. It's just the toxicity part that is a concern. I'd like to keep looking into it, as I've seen it has a history of use, and it grows profusely on my property. But poison ivy does too, and while i found it interesting that some people make tinctures of poison ivy, I am not ready to try that either, haha.