About Hovenia dulcis  
     
 

Heotgae namu (Japanese Raisin Tree) (larch of the Dahurian buckthorn family)
Scientific name: Hovenia dulcis
Classification: plant system, seed plant division, dicotyledonous plant class, Dahurian buckthorn family
Habitats: Korea (south of Gangwon and Hwanghae regions), Japan, and China
Height: 10~17m


Also known as Jiguja namu (Semen Hoveniae), the raisin tree grows in forests 50~800 meters above sea level, where it is free from pollution.  
The tree grows 10~17m, its skin is black gray, and its

 
 

branches are brown-purple and have lenticels. Winter buds are surrounded by two bud scales and have hair. Leaves are 8~15cm long, and have un-paralleled and broad ovate or oval varieties.
A leaf has three thick veins and small saw teeth at edges.

This dioecious raisin tree produces white bisexual flowers in June – July.
Flowers bloom beginning at the end of the stalk. The flower has five sepals, five petals, and three styles. The fruit is brown and shaped like a hen’s claw, and its diameter is about 8mm.  
The three rooms of the fruit each have one seed. The seed is dark brown and glossy. When the fruit is about to ripen, its stem thickens, making it rugged.  

Yi, Si-jin, a famous doctor for the raisin tree fruit, called the fruit gold fruit. The fruit’s character is soft, and its taste is sweet yet sour. The fruit is effective in strengthening the liver, the spleen, and the lungs, and in easing hangovers.
The fruit is also effective in curing a stuffy and thirsty throat, vomiting and difficulty urinating and moving bowels.   

As proved by modern scientific medical studies, Peroxidase, which is contained in the raisin tree fruit’s  potassium nitrate, decomposes free radical formation by ethanol when drinking, thereby preventing the formation of lipids. Thus, the component prevents the liver damage by ethanol, as well as diverse metabolic disorders due to alcoholic addiction. It also decomposes fats excessively accumulated in the liver, and this effect was reported in 2001 to 2003 over South Korea’s three largest TV broadcasters (MBC,KBS, and SBS).   

 
     
  Related Literature  
     
 

Jiguja

 
Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (Benevolent Prescription) :
The raisin tree is very effective in curing liver diseases such as fatty liver, jaundice, and cirrhosis caused by alcoholic addition and drinking, as well as damaged large intestine, stomach, brain, and other intestines due to heavy drinking.
   
Su Dong Po :
 

If a few drops of the raisin tree-brewed water or its fruit juice are put into liquor, the liquor will soon become soft. If a person drinks a cup of this tree-brewed tea and then drinks liquor, he will be 3 to 4 times stronger than usual.  

When a person vomits, has a thirsty throat and headache and feels dizzy after drinking, if he drinks a cup of the raisin tree-brewed tea, he will be able to surprisingly quickly awaken from drunken.     
 
Zhu Zhen Heng :
 

"Once upon a time, a person, who lived in the southern region, was repairing his house using this tree. He mistakenly dropped a piece of this tree into a jar of liquor. Several days later, the liquor completely turned into water.”

   
Uibangyuchi (A Great Collection of Medical Prescriptions) :
 

Records on the raisin tree do not nearly exist in Korea.
An only record on this tree is mentioned in Uibangyuchi (A Great Collection of Medical Prescriptions), which was compiled at the behest of King Sejong: A person in Masan, named Gye Yeong-sin, who was 210cm tall, drank like a fish, and was very open-hearted. He suddenly developed a disease characterized by thirst. He took all kinds of medicines, but in vain. He was on the verge of dying. He, however, recovered from the disease by taking raisin tree fruit-brewed water prescribed by a physician named Jang Rip-deok.