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Chinese bellflower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Campanulaceae
Genus: Platycodon
Species: P. grandiflorus
Binomial name
Platycodon grandiflorus
(Jacq.) A.DC.

Platycodon grandiflorus is a species of perennial flowering plant of the family Campanulaceae and the only member of the genus Platycodon (from Greek "πλατυκώδων", meaning 'a broad bell'). This species is known as platycodon or Chinese bellflower. Depending upon the region, it is also referred to as the Japanese bellflower, common balloon flower, or balloon flower. It is native to East Asia (such as China, Korea, Japan, and East Siberia) and bears big blue flowers, although varieties with white and pink flowers are in cultivation. In Korea, white flowers are more common.

Uses

The root of this species (radix platycodi) is used extensively as an anti-inflammatory in the treatment of coughs and colds; in Korea the plant is known as doraji (도라지) and its root, either dried or fresh, is a popular ingredient in salads and traditional cuisine. However, doraji (Chinese bellflower) should not be confused with Korean bellflower. Chinese bellflower (called 桔梗 in Chinese) is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The plant is also a popular garden ornamental. It is hardy to USDA plant hardiness zone 3 and requires little care.

In popular culture

Rumiko Takahashi named her character Kikyo (桔梗, Kikyou) from her manga Inuyasha after the flower. Kikyou (aka Reverse Sia) from the Shuffle! series is named after this flower, but her name is written in katakana rather than the actual kanji. Byakuya Kuchiki from the anime Bleach enjoys this flower. Mahoro from Mahoromatic leaves theres flowers at the Grave of Commander Morisato every year and was known to Shugura as the "Bell flower" person until late in the anime

In Korea, white Chinese bellflowers have a folk song, Doraji, named after them. In Japan, the pentagram is sometimes called the "Bellflower seal", and the flower was the symbol of the Onmyoryo (Bureau of Taoist Geomancy), because of its associations with Abe no Seimei and the Five Chinese Elements.

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