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Plants traditionally used to make Cantonese slow-cooked soup in China

  • Yujing Liu1, 5,
  • Qi Liu1,
  • Ping Li2,
  • Deke Xing1,
  • Huagang Hu3,
  • Lin Li1,
  • Xuechen Hu5 and
  • Chunlin Long4, 5Email author
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine201814:4

https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-018-0206-y

Received: 10 November 2017

Accepted: 28 December 2017

Published: 15 January 2018

Abstract

Background

Lǎo huǒ liàng tāng (Cantonese slow-cooked soup, CSCS) is popular in Guangdong, China, and is consumed by Cantonese people worldwide as a delicious appetizer. Because CSCS serves as an important part of family healthcare, medicinal plants and plant-derived products are major components of CSCS. However, a collated record of the diverse plant species and an ethnobotanical investigation of CSCS is lacking. Because of globalization along with a renewed interest in botanical and food therapy, CSCS has attracted a growing attention in soup by industries, scientists, and consumers. This study represents the first attempt to document the plant species used for CSCS in Guangdong, China, and the associated ethnomedical function of plants, including their local names, part(s) used, flavors, nature, preparation before cooking, habitats, and conservation status.

Methods

In 2014–2017, participatory approaches, open-ended conversations, and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 63 local people and 48 soup restaurant owners (111 interviews) to better understand the biocultural context of CSCS, emphasizing ethnobotanical uses of plants in Guangdong Province, China. Product samples and voucher specimens were collected for taxonomic identification. Mention Index (QI), frequency of use index (FUI), and economic index (EI) were adopted to evaluate the significance of each plant in the food supply.

Results

A total of 97 plant species belonging to 46 families and 90 genera were recorded as having been used in CSCS in the study area. Recorded menus consisted of one or several plant species, with each one used for different purposes. They were classified into 11 functions, with clearing heat being the most common medicinal function. Of the 97 species, 19 grew only in the wild, 8 species were both wild and cultivated, and 70 species were cultivated. Roots and fruits were the most commonly used plant parts in the preparation of CSCS. According to the national evaluation criteria, six of these species are listed on “China’s red list” including two endangered, two critically endangered, one near-threatened, and one vulnerable species. The QI, FUI, and EI of the 97 species in the study varied between 0.09 and 1, 0.23 and 9.95, and 0.45 and 6.58, respectively.

Conclusions

As an important part of Cantonese culture, CSCS has been popularized as a local cuisine with a healthcare function. CSCS also reflects the plant species richness and cultural diversity of Guangdong Province. Future research on the safety and efficacy of CSCS as well as on ecological and cultural conservation efforts is needed for the sustainable growth of China’s botanical and medicinal plant industry.

Keywords

Cantonese slow-cooked soupEthnomedicineBotanical industryFood therapyCultural significance indices

Background

In China, many communities have developed their own specific local type of soup, such as Simmer Soup in Hunan and Hubei provinces, Hot and Sour Soup in Sichuan province, Mutton Soup in Shandong province, and Cantonese slow-cooked soup (CSCS) in Guangdong Province. Among these soups, CSCS has the greatest number of varieties, and in general, it is well known locally and in foreign countries. As the name implies, CSCS is made with different kinds of ingredients from time to time and is cooked in a covered pot; the pot is allowed to simmer slowly at a low boil on a very low flame for an extended time. CSCS is a relatively low-fat, highly nutritious, and easily absorbed soup, used as a type of delicious appetizer, and has long been a form of traditional food therapy used by Cantonese people.

For a long time, CSCS and cooling herbal teas have epitomized Guangzhou food and drink culture [1]. The origin of CSCS can be traced back to 3500 years ago when it was used as an early form of Chinese herbal medicine [2]. Why? The heat and humidity of Guangdong inevitably penetrate the human body, making people feel very uncomfortable. Because Guangdong features a rich level of biodiversity, Chinese medicinal herbs are available for the Cantonese people to reduce a person’s internal body heat or mitigate the humidity, but pure Chinese herbal tea is very bitter. Medicinal effects without this bitterness were desired. How was this problem solved? Clever Cantonese people added the medicinal herbs, such as ginger (Zingiber officinale Rosc.), which is used as an antinauseant [3], Lophatherum gracile Brongn., used to cure mouth and tongue sores [4], Zea mays L., used to induce diuresis [5], and the seeds of Euryale ferox Salisb. ex Konig & Sims, which are used to cure kidney problems, to delicious soups [6].

Cantonese people have brought CSCS into many places where they live, such as Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and other places in Southeast Asia as well as to the Chinatowns of different cities worldwide. CSCS provides a competitive advantage for immigrant Cantonese who markets this product in many places. However, many kinds of CSCS exist, so how does one select the right soup? Because many people lack an awareness of the use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in support of human health, the development of CSCS has become disorganized. In addition, as food security has improved in recent years, international attention has been drawn to food therapy and food safety. As a result, the various types of CSCS need to be analyzed, so that the soup materials can be categorized according to their functions, part(s) used, preparation methods used before decoction and their nature (classified as hot, warm, cool, cold or neutral), and flavor. If these soup materials are classified and used correctly, the opportunity to develop Chinese medicine and expand food variety will emerge. In addition, it is imperative that steps are taken to preserve the heritage we have in TCM along with developing and protecting the nature of CSCS.

Methods

Study area

The coastal province of Guangdong is bounded by five southern Chinese provinces along with Hong Kong and Macao. Guangdong Province has a unique style with various dialects, customs, traditions, and historical culture. Guangdong covers an area of 179,800 km2 and has 56 ethnic minorities with the Lingnan culture being generally representative. The total population of Han nationality is 102 million in 2013, accounted for 97.46% of Guangdong Province; the population of Zhuang, Yao, Tujia, Miao, and Dong nationality accounts for 86% of the total ethnic minorities’ population in Guangdong. The tropical and subtropical climates have a rich flora that thrives on a variety of geological features.

While Guangzhou serves as the capital of Guangdong Province, Shenzhen labels itself as an “emerging migrant city” (Fig. 1). Five villages (Mi Gang, Shi Hu, Luo Tang, Long Gang, and Bao An) and 48 restaurants in Guangzhou and Shenzhen were selected as the study sites. The criteria for selecting study sites, including soup chain stores and delivery outlets, were that the sites had a rich variety of CSCS materials so that the soup-drinking culture should be well preserved.
Fig. 1

Location of the five villages and 48 restaurants within Guangdong Province in southern China selected as study sites (blue star: village; red dot: restaurant)

Ethnobotanical surveys

Our research findings are based on ethnobotanical surveys carried out from 2014 to 2017 with the objective of investigating, documenting, and interpreting which herbs Cantonese consumed in soup used to cure and prevent diseases and how these people produced and consumed these plants. A total of 63 local women in the five villages and 48 soup restaurant owners, both men and women, at other locations (111 interviews) were selected using participatory approaches, open-ended conversations, and semi-structured interviews (Fig. 1) [7]. The restaurant owners, all of whom had lived almost all of their lives in Guangdong, the local female residents over 40 years old, and could cook CSCS were invited to participate as informants; they all readily accepted the invitation to be interviewed. The study was carried out following the International Society of Ethnobiology Code of Ethics; all participants were informed of our intent prior to the start of the interviews. Prior to conducting interviews, we bought or took photos of plant materials used in restaurants in order to conduct a cross-validation of plant identifications in the village; in addition, informants were presented with freshly pressed or gathered plant materials, so the species identifications could be confirmed. During all interviews, the interviewees were asked to speak freely about herb materials to allow us to acquire a list of those species used in making CSCS. In addition, when the interviewees permitted it, samples were collected with the help of local guides. Interviewees were given the option to answer the following questions about each plant species: (1) Have you ever used this plant for making CSCS or not? (2) How often do you eat it? (3) Did you sell or buy this plant? (4) Where do you gather this plant? (5) What plant part do you use of this plant? (6) What is the function of this plant in CSCS? (7) How do you prepare this plant for decoction? (8) How do you obtain plants to cure and prevent diseases in your daily life? (9) Which plants have you used during your lifetime to make CSCS, etc.? Finally, group discussions with key informants were organized separately from the 63 interviews in the five villages. Notes and photos were taken to record the relevant information provided by the informants; digital voice recorders and cameras were used to record the plants and activities of informants as they gathered plants in the field. We collected three specimens of each wild plant. Plants cultivated in home gardens were not used as voucher specimens. For those gathered from the wild and then planted in kitchen gardens, we also gathered the same species of plants from the wild. Voucher specimens of all wild plants available during field investigations were deposited in the Ethnobotany Lab of Minzu University of China. Plant identification was based on the Flora of China, and a review of specimens at PE, the herbarium of the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.

Statistical analysis

Mention Index (QI), frequency of use index (FUI), and Economic Index (EI) were adopted to develop and evaluate a cultural importance index for each plant species [8]. We use questions 1, 2, and 3 above to calculate the QI, FUI, and EI for each species where QI = number of mentions/number of informants. For FUI and EI, the final value of each plant is the average of all informant responses. For the details of the calculation method see Table 1.
Table 1

Categorization of answers and values used for the cultural significance indices

Index

Answer

Value

QI

Not mentioned

0

Mentioned

1

FUI

Never

0

Less than once a month

2.5

Once a month

5

2–3 times a month

7.5

4 or more a month

10

EI

He/she does not sell or buy it

0

He/she sells or buys it occasionally at low prices

3.33

He/she sells or buys it regularly

6.67

He/she sells or buys it at high prices

10

Table 2 lists the ethnobotanical information for each plant, including scientific name, Chinese name, Cantonese name, function, part(s) used, flavor, nature, preparation before decoction, habitat, conservation need, QI, FUI, and EI based on those defined by the Chinese Pharmacopoeia (National Pharmacopoeia Committee, 2010) and our ethnobotanical surveys. We analyzed the relationship between plant nature, flavor, and function with Apriori and Excel [9]; Apriori is a frequently used item set algorithm that is used for mining association rules. Weka 3.7 software was used to run the association rules program.
Table 2

Inventory of plants traditionally used for making Cantonese slow-cooked soup in Guangdong, China (species are listed alphabetically)

Scientific name

Chinese name

Chinese character

Cantonese name

Function

Part(s) used

Flavor

Nature

Preparation before decoction

Habitat

Conservation need

QI

FUI

EI

Voucher number

Adenophora stricta Miq.

Sha Shen

沙参

Saa sam

Nourish yin, stop cough

Root

Sweet, pungent

Warm

Dry

Wild

 

0.28

0.7

1.53

GD107

Alisma plantago-aquatica Linn.

Ze Xie

泽泻

Zaak Se

Clear heat

Stem

Sweet

Cold

Dry

Wild

 

0.23

0.61

1.2

GD22

Amomum villosum Lour.

Sha Ren

砂仁

Saa jan

Tonify qi

Fruit

Pungent

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.37

0.92

2.34

GD44

Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels

Dang Gui

当归

Dong gwai

Replenish blood

Root

Bitter, pungent

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.41

1.01

2.34

GD99

Arachishypogaea Linn.

Hua Sheng

落花生

Faa sang

Tonify qi

Seed

Sweet

Neutral

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.95

8.58

5.38

GD34

Armeniaca vulgaris Lam.

Xing

Hang

Stop cough

Fruit

Sour, sweet

Warm

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.73

2

3.72

GD19

Astragalus membranaceus (Fisch.) Bunge

Huang Qi

黄耆

Wong kei

Tonify qi, tonify yang

Root

Sweet

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.52

1.69

3.18

GD56

Atractylodes macrocephala Koidz.

Bai Zhu

白术

Baak seot

Tonify qi

Root

Bitter, sweet

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

VU

0.25

1.01

1.41

GD78

Benincasa hispida (Thunb.) Cogn.

Dong Gua

冬瓜

Dung gwaa

Clear heat, stop cough

Fruit

Sweet

Cool

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.68

4.08

3.39

GD60

Brassica pekinensis (Lour.) Rupr.

Bai Cai

白菜

Baak coi

Digestion, promote dampness

Leaf

Sweet

Neutral

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.97

6.78

3.97

GD120

Carthamus tinctorius L.

Hong Hua

红花

Hung faa

Promote circulation, tonify qi

Flower

Pungent

Warm

Dry

Wild (C)

 

0.23

0.7

1.5

GD86

Castanea mollissima Bl.

Li Zi

Leot zi

Tonify qi, promote circulation

Seed

Sweet

Warm

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.41

1.17

1.62

GD11

Chaenomeles sinensis (Thouin) Koehne

Mu Gua

木瓜

Muk gwaa

Digestion

Fruit

Sour

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.44

1.53

2.13

GD200

Cistanche deserticola Ma

Rou Cong Rong

肉苁蓉

Juk cung jung

Tonify yang

Stem

Sweet, salty

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

CR

0.17

0.43

0.45

GD118

Citrus limon (L.) Burm. f.

Ning Meng

柠檬

Ning mung

Clear heat, stop cough

Fruit

Sour, sweet

Neutral

Fresh or dry

Cultivated

 

0.6

4.53

4.03

GD105

Citrus reticulata Blanco

Gan Ju

柑橘

Gam gat

Tonify qi

Fruit

Bitter, pungent

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.66

5.02

2.88

GD43

Cocos nucifera L.

Ye Zi

椰子

Je zi

Tonify qi

Fruit

Sweet

Warm

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.59

2.73

3.06

GD9

Codonopsis pilosula (Franch.) Nannf.

Dang Shen

党参

Dong sam

Tonify qi, replenish blood

Root

Sweet

Neutral

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.34

0.99

2.28

GD6

Coix lacryma-jobi L.

Yi Yi

薏苡

Ji ji

Promote dampness, clear heat

Seed

Sweet

Cool

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.6

3.42

3.82

GD81

Colocasia esculenta (L). Schott

Yu

Wu

Tonify qi

Bulb

Sweet, pungent

Neutral

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.87

6.46

4.33

GD67

Cornus officinalis Sieb. et Zucc.

Shan Zhu Yu

山茱萸

Saan zyu jyu

Astringents

Fruit

Sour

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.39

1.42

2.22

GD87

Crataegus pinnatifida Bge.

Shan Zha

山楂

Saan zaa

Digestion

Fruit

Sour, sweet

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.74

3.24

3.18

GD54

Cuscuta chinensis Lam.

Tu Si Zi

菟丝子

Tou si zi

Tonify yang

Seed

Sweet

Warm

Dry

Wild

 

0.38

1.1

1.53

GD214

Davallia mariesii Moore ex Bak.

Gu Sui Bu

骨碎补

Gwat seoi bou

Tonify yang

Root

Bitter

Warm

Dry

Wild

 

0.28

0.7

1.35

GD224

Dendranthema morifolium (Ramat.) Tzvel.

Ju Hua

菊花

Guk faa

Clear heat

Flower

Sweet, bitter

Cold

Dry

Wild (cultivated)

 

0.71

3.06

4.45

GD207

Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo

Tie Pi Shi Hu

铁皮石斛

Tit pei sek huk

Nourish yin, clear heat

Stem

Sweet, salty

Cold

Fresh or dry

Cultivated

CR

0.17

0.43

1.2

GD234

Dendrobium wilsonii Rolfe

Guang Dong Shi Hu

广东石斛

Gwong dung sek huk

Nourish yin, clear heat

Stem

Sweet

Cold

Fresh or dry

Cultivated

EN

0.09

0.23

0.6

GD244

Dioscorea esculenta (Lour.) Burkill

Gan Shu

甘薯

Syu jyu

Tonify qi

Root

Sweet

Neutral

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.47

1.58

2.34

GD177

Dumasia hirsute Craib

Ying Mao Shan Hei Dou

硬毛山黑豆

Ngaang mou saan hak dau

Clear heat

Seed

Sweet

Neutral

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.53

2.25

2.76

GD109

Durio zibethinus Murr.

Liu Lian

榴莲

Lau lin

Nourish yin

Fruit

Sweet, pungent

Hot

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.25

1.33

1.32

GD21

Ephedra sinica Stapf

Cao Ma Huang

草麻黄

Cou maa wong

Promote dampness

Stem

Pungent, bitter

Warm

Dry

Wild

 

0.19

0.68

0.84

GD117

Eriobotrya japonica (Thunb.) Lindl.

Pi Pa

枇杷

Pei paa

Stop cough

Leaf

Bitter

Cold

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.4

1.31

1.86

GD123

Eucommia ulmoides Oliver

Du Zhong

杜仲

Dou zung

Tonify yang

Bark

Sweet

Warm

Dry

Wild

NT

0.27

0.77

1.47

GD134

Euryale ferox Salisb. ex Konig & Sims

Qian Shi

芡实

Him sat

Astringents

Seed

Sweet, Sour

Neutral

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.26

1.1

1.65

GD122

Ficus carica Linn.

Wu Hua Guo

无花果

Mou faa gwo

Stop cough

Fruit

Sweet

Neutral

Fresh or dry

Cultivated

 

0.43

1.71

2.49

GD144

Ficus hirta Vahl

Cu Ye Rong

粗叶榕

Cou jip jung

Tonify qi

Root

Sweet

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.25

0.99

0.96

GD199

Flemingia philippinensis Merr. et Rolfe

Qian Jin Ba

千斤拔

Cin gan but

Tonify qi, promote circulation

Root

Sweet

Neutral

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.55

2.55

2.91

GD119

Fritillaria cirrhosa D. Don

Chuan Bei Mu

川贝母

Cyun bui mou

Stop cough, promote dampness

Bulb

Bitter, sweet

Cold

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.48

2.39

2.61

GD156

Ginkgo biloba L.

Yin Xing

银杏

Ngan hang

Stop cough, astringents

Seed

Sweet, bitter, sour

Neutral

Dry

W

EN

0.67

3.81

3.36

GD178

Glycine max (Linn.) Merr.

Da Dou

大豆

Daai dau

Clear heat, promote circulation

Seed

Sweet

Neutral

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.77

5.25

3.57

GD160

Hordeum vulgare L.

Da Mai

大麦

Daai mak

Digestion

Sprout

Sweet

Neutral

Raw or stir-baked form

Cultivated

 

0.46

2.52

2.28

GD112

Houttuynia cordata Thunb

Ji Cai

蕺菜

Jyuu sing cou

Clear heat

Whole plant

Pungent

Cold

Fresh

Wild (cultivated)

 

0.88

6.67

3.81

GD186

Hylocereus undatus (Haw.) Britt. et Rose

Liang Tian Chi

量天尺

Loeng tin cek

Clear heat, stop cough

Flower

Sweet

Cool

Fresh

Wild (cultivated)

 

0.24

1.04

1.26

GD111

Ilex pubescens Hook. et Arn.

Mao Dong Qing

毛冬青

Mou dung cing

Clear heat, promote circulation

Root

Bitter

Cold

Dry

Wild

 

0.35

1.91

1.74

GD210

Imperata cylindrica (L.) Beauv.

Bai Mao

白茅

Baak maau

Clear heat

Root

Sweet

Cold

Dry

Wild

 

0.51

2.91

2.64

GD218

Isatis tinctoria L.

Ou Zhou Song Lan

欧洲菘蓝

Sung Laam

Clear heat

Root

Bitter

Cold

Dry

Wild (cultivated)

 

0.87

6.67

3.66

GD205

Jasminum sambac (L.) Ait.

Mo Li Hua

茉莉花

Mut lei faa

Clear heat

Flower

Pungent, sweet

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.71

4.21

3.63

GD243

Juglans regia L.

Hu Tao

胡桃

Wu tou

Soothe the nerves and brain

Seed

Sweet

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.77

3.81

3.81

GD226

Juncus bufonius L.

Xiao Deng Xin Cao

小灯心草

Dang sam cou

Clear heat, promote dampness

Whole plant

Sweet

Cold

Fresh or dry

Wild

 

0.8

4.03

3.36

GD281

Lablab purpureus (Linn.) Sweet

Bian Dou

扁豆

Bin dau

Tonify yang

Seed

Sweet

Neutral

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.11

0.61

0.63

GD267

Leonurus japonicus Houtt.

Yi Mu Cao

益母草

Jik mou cou

Promote circulation

Leaf

Bitter, pungent

Cold

Fresh or dry

Wild

 

0.77

3.11

4.18

GD287

Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort.

Chuan Xiong

川芎

Cyun hung

Promote circulation

Root

Pungent

Warm

Fresh or dry

Cultivated

 

0.37

1.19

2.07

GD254

Lilium brownie F. E. Brown ex Miellez

Ye Bai He

野百合

Baak hap

Nourish yin, stop cough, soothe the nerves and brain

Leaf

Sweet

Cold

Fresh or dry

Cultivated

 

0.36

2.18

2.13

GD241

Lilium lancifolium Thunb.

Juan Dan

卷丹

Gyun daan baak hap

Nourish yin, soothe the nerves and brain

Leaf

Sweet

Cold

Fresh or dry

Cultivated

 

0.64

3.51

3.57

GD146

Litchi chinensis Sonn.

Li Zhi

荔枝

Lai zi

Tonify qi, replenish blood, soothe the nerves and brain

Fruit

Sweet, sour

Warm

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.77

4.05

4.24

GD165

Lophatherum gracile Brongn.

Dan Zhu Ye

淡竹叶

Daam zuk jip

Clear heat, promote dampness

Whole plant

Sweet

Cold

Fresh or dry

Wild

 

0.78

5.27

4.21

GD110

Luffa acutangula (L.) Roem.

Guang Dong Si Gua

广东丝瓜

Si gwaa

Clear heat

Fruit

Sweet

Cool

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.88

7.18

4.9

GD119

Lycium chinense Mill.

Gou Qi

枸杞

Geoi gei

Nourish yin

Fruit

Bitter

Cold

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.91

7.93

6.58

GD66

Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.

Fan Qie

番茄

Faan ke

Digestion

Fruit

Sweet, sour

Cold

Fresh

Cultivated

 

1

9.95

4.06

GD53

Magnolia officinalis Rehd. et Wils.

Hou Pu

厚朴

Hau buk

Clear heat

Flower

Bitter, pungent

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.61

3.42

3.12

GD45

Malus pumila Mill.

Ping Guo

苹果

Ping gwo

Tonify qi, replenish blood

Fruit

Sweet

Cool

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.43

2.12

2.61

GD90

Mentha haplocalyx Briq.

Bo He

薄荷

Bok ho

Clear heat

Whole plant

Pungent

Cool

Dry or fresh

Cultivated

 

0.59

4.32

3.06

GD88

Momordica charantia L.

Ku Gua

苦瓜

Fu gwaa

Clear heat

Fruit

Bitter

Cold

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.53

4.12

2.79

GD142

Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn.

Lian

lin

Soothe the nerves and brain

Seed and flower

Sweet, sour

Neutral

Seed: dry/flower: fresh

Cultivated

 

0.6

3.6

3.33

GD168

Olea europaea L.

Mu Xi Lan

木犀榄

Muk sai laam

Clear heat

Fruit

Sweet, sour

Neutral

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.35

1.82

0.57

GD175

Ophiopogon japonicas (Linn. f.) Ker-Gawl.

Mai Dong

麦冬

Mak dung

Nourish yin, stop cough

Root

Sweet, Bitter

Cold

Dry

Wild

 

0.7

4.26

1.11

GD169

Oryza sativa L.

Dao

dou

Nourish yin, astringents

Root

Sweet

Neutral

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.26

1.19

1.08

GD184

Osmunda japonica Thunb.

Zi Qi

紫萁

Gun zung

Clear heat

Root

Bitter

Cool

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.31

1.15

1.65

GD143

Panax ginseng C. A. Mey.

Ren Shen

人参

Jan sam

Tonify qi, soothe the nerves and brain

Root

Sweet, bitter

Neutral

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.8

2.91

5.23

GD132

Panax notoginseng (Burkill) F. H. Chen ex C. H. Chow

San Qi/Tian Qi

三七

Saam cat

Promote circulation

Root

Sweet, bitter

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.79

3.33

4.96

GD187

Panax quinquefolius Linn.

Xi Yang Shen

西洋参

Sai joeng sam

Tonify qi, nourish yin

Root

Sweet, bitter

Cool

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.23

0.59

1.53

GD1

Pinus koraiensis Sieb. et Zucc.

Hong Song

红松

Hung sung

Nourish yin

Seed

Sweet

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.58

2.23

3.91

GD91

Polygonatum cyrtonema Hua

Duo Hua Huang Jing

多花黄精

Wong zing

Nourish yin, tonify qi

Root

Sweet

Neutral

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.53

1.91

2.73

GD58

Polygonatum odoratum (Mill.) Druce

Yu Zhu

玉竹

Juk zuk

Nourish yin

Root

Sweet

Cold

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.58

2.12

0.87

GD65

Prunella vulgaris L.

Xia Ku Cao

夏枯草

Haa fu cou

Clear heat

Leaf

Pungent, bitter

Cold

Dry

Wild

 

0.88

5.83

4.48

GD229

Pseudostellaria heterophylla (Miq.) Pax

Hai Er Shen

孩儿参

Taai zi sam

Tonify qi

Root

Sweet, bitter

Neutral

Dry

Wild (cultivated)

 

0.26

0.83

1.65

GD300

Psoralea corylifolia Linn.

Bu Gu Zhi

补骨脂

Bou gwat zi

Tonify yang, tonify qi

Fruit

Pungent, bitter

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.22

0.61

1.17

GD209

Pueraria lobate (Willd.) Ohwi

Ge Gen

Fan got

Tonify yang, astringents

Root

Sweet, pungent

Cool

Dry

Wild

 

0.32

1.17

1.77

GD273

Pyrus pyrifolia (Burm. f.) Nakai

Sha Li

沙梨

Syut lei

Clear heat, stop cough

Fruit

Sweet, sour

Cool

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.92

4.64

5.35

GD181

Quisqualis indica L.

Shi Jun Zi

使君子

Sai gwan zi

Digestion

Fruit

Sweet

Warm

Dry

Wild (cultivated)

 

0.26

0.68

1.35

GD315

Ranunculus ternatus Thunb.

Mao Zhua Cao

猫爪草

Maau zaau cou

Stop cough

Root

Sweet, pungent

Warm

Dry

Wild

 

0.19

0.47

0.78

GD320

Raphanus sativus L.

Hu Luo Bo

萝卜

Wu lo baak

Digestion

Root

Sweet

Neutral

Fresh

Cultivated

 

1

9.71

1.71

GD331

Rehmannia glutinosa (Gaetn.) Libosch. ex Fisch. et Mey.

Di Huang

地黄

Dei wong

Nourish yin, replenish blood, tonify qi

Root

Sweet

Warm

Dry

Wild (cultivated)

 

0.5

1.78

2.52

GD18

Rosa laevigata Michx.

Jin Ying Zi

金樱子

Gam jing zi

Astringents

Fruit

Sour, sweet

Neutral

Dry

Wild

 

0.62

2

3.3

GD347

Rosa rugosa Thunb.

Mei Gui

玫瑰

Mui gwai

Tonify qi

Flower

Sweet, bitter

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

1

3.83

4.99

GD10

Saccharum sinense Roxb.

Zhu Zhe

竹蔗

Zuk ze

Clear heat, digestion

Juice

Sweet

Neutral

Fresh

Cultivated

 

1

4.14

4.68

GD121

Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge

Dan Shen

丹参

Daan sam

Promote circulation

Root

Bitter

Cold

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.34

1.35

2.4

GD316

Scrophularia ningpoensis Hemsl.

Xuan Shen

玄参

Duk gok gam

Clear heat, nourish yin

Root

Sweet, bitter, salty

Cold

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.26

0.83

1.74

GD326

Siraitia grosvenorii (Swingle) C. Jeffrey ex Lu et Z. Y. Zhang

Luo Han Guo

罗汉果

Lo hon gwo

Stop cough

Fruit

Sweet

Cool

Dry

Cultivated

 

1

7.66

6.07

GD333

Stellaria nipponica Ohwi

Bai HuaFan Lv

多花繁缕

Baak faa se sit cou

Clear heat, promote dampness

Whole plant

Sweet

Cool

Dry

Wild

 

0.44

2.7

2.22

GD3

Striga asiatica (L.) O. Kuntze

Du Jiao Jin

独脚金

Duk gok gam

Clear heat, digestion

Whole plant

Sweet

Cool

Dry

Wild

 

0.42

2.43

2.34

GD336

Triticum aestivum L.

Pu Tong Xiao Mai

普通小麦

Pou tung siu mak

Astringents, tonify qi, clear heat

Fruit

Sweet

Cool

Dry

Cultivated

 

0.35

1.31

1.74

GD312

Vigna radiata (Linn.) Wilczek

Lv Dou

绿豆

Luk dau

Clear heat

Seed

Sweet

Cool

Dry

Cultivated

 

1

8.49

5.83

GD228

Vigna umbellate (Thunb.) Ohwi et Ohashi

Chi Xiao Dou

赤小豆

Cik siu dau

Promote dampness

Seed

Sweet, sour

Neutral

Dry

Cultivated

 

1

7.7

4.63

GD171

Vigna unguiculata (Linn.) Walp.

Jiang Dou

豇豆

Gong dau

Digestion

Seed

Sweet

Neutral

Fresh or dry

Cultivated

 

1

7.34

4.96

GD180

Zea mays L.

Yu Shu Shu

玉蜀黍

Juk mai

Promote dampness

Seed

Sweet

Neutral

Fresh

Cultivated

 

0.87

5.56

4.48

GD50

Ziziphus jujuba Mill.

Zao

Mou ci zou

Tonify qi

Fruit

Sweet

Warm

Dry

Cultivated

 

1

8.99

6.07

GD342

Results and discussion

Diversity of plants used in CSCS

Our ethnobotanical surveys documented 113 kinds of plants or plant parts, as defined below, used as ingredients in CSCS (Table 4), including ingredients from 97 species in 90 genera and 46 families (Table 2). In terms of the number of species, the eight species found in each caused the Gramineae and Rosaceae to rank first, followed by seven species each in the Fabaceae and Liliaceae (Fig. 2). The ingredients used in CSCS refer not only to whole herbaceous plants but also to the leaf, bark, root, seed, fruit, stem, bulb, juice, stigma, and flower. Root and fruit were used most commonly. Among these 97 species, 28 and 26 species were collected for the harvesting of roots and fruits, respectively (Fig. 3). Local people also prefer to preserve plants by drying for later use as food materials.
Fig. 2

Most frequently mentioned plant families for families where f > 3, where f is the number of species in a family; for families where f < 3, these were summarized as “others”

Fig. 3

Plant parts used in Cantonese slow-cooked soup

We checked the status of the plant species used in CSCS by following the evaluation criteria established by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (Table 2). Six species are listed on the “China red list”; Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo and Cistanche deserticola Ma are CR (critically endangered), Dendrobium wilsonii Rolfe is listed as EN (endangered), and Atractylodes macrocephala Koidz. is VU (vulnerable). The remaining 91 species are in the “least concern” category. For the six endangered or vulnerable wild species, reasonable cultivation protocols and ex situ conservation methods need to be established as soon as possible.

The QI of the 97 species in the present study varied between 9 and 100%. The QIs of 46 species were ranked at 0–50% (~ 47.4%) and were 51–99% for 42 species (~ 43.3%); only nine species had a QI of 100% (~ 9.3%). The nine species mentioned above are familiar to almost everyone and include Lycopersicon esculentum Mill., Vigna umbellata (Thunb.) Ohwi et Ohashi, Saccharum sinense Roxb., Vigna unguiculata (Linn.) Walp., Rosa rugosa Thunb., Vigna radiata (Linn.) Wilczek, Raphanus sativus L., Siraitia grosvenorii (Swingle) C. Jeffrey ex Lu et Z. Y. Zhang, and Ziziphus jujuba Mill.

The FUI varied between 0.23 and 9.95. Nineteen species (~ 19.6%) were used more than once a month (FUI > 5). Table 2 clearly shows that the most frequently mentioned species were also the most commonly used, with the exceptions of R. rugosa (FUI = 3.83) and S. sinense (FUI = 4.14). Fifty-one species were used only occasionally in some years (FUI < 2.5); they are relatively somewhat difficult to obtain either by collection or through commerce.

The EI varied between 0.45 and 6.58. Also, 89 species had an appreciable economic importance (EI > 1). Lycium chinense Mill. had the highest EI value (EI = 6.58); L. chinense is very significant because most people like to add it to CSCS to flavor the soup and nourish the body.

Function and five elements of plants

Chinese people attached great importance to the therapeutic role of food during the early stages of the development of Chinese medicine [10]. CSCS has the concomitant function of serving as both food and medicine based on past experience and the theory of TCM. In the present study, the medicinal functions of CSCS can be classified into 11 categories (Table 2 and Fig. 4). In TCM, “qi” is considered to be a natural energy and the central underlying principle of life. Symptoms of various illnesses are believed to be the product of deficiencies or imbalances in the qi of the organs of the body [11]. If a qi deficiency exists in the spleen, a person will be tired and experience a loss of appetite. If a qi deficiency occurs in the lung, a person will experience shortness of breath and cough, have pale skin color, and sweat spontaneously. The Cantonese often relieve these types of imbalances by adjusting the circulation of qi using food therapy. During our field surveys, we found 24 species involved in tonifying a person’s qi (Fig. 4). In addition, some kinds of CSCS have significant effects in promoting digestion, dampness, and circulation as well as in tonifying a person’s yang; these soups will have an astringent, soothing effect on the nerves and brain while replenishing the blood. Chinese philosophy considers yin and yang to be the two complementing principles of life; yin has the female characteristics of earth, cold, and darkness, and yang has the male characteristics of heaven, heat, and light. Any one person has both yin and yang, and these characteristics need to be balanced to maintain good health.
Fig. 4

The relationship between five natures (cold, cool, neutral, warm, and hot) and function of plants in CSCS

Although the precepts of Chinese food therapy are neither systematic nor identical in different times and places, some basic concepts have been isolated. The Chinese Pharmacopoeia (2010) classifies herbs as having five natures and five flavors based on the five elements theory, which determines their usage. The five natures (hot, warm, cool, cold, and neutral) are summarized mainly from the body’s response after Chinese herbs are consumed [12]. In addition, herbs are classified into five flavors by their efficacy, using their true taste [12] including sweet, bitter, sour, pungent, and salty [13]. The five elements theory is similar with the concept of organoleptic characteristics introduced by Nina Etkin [14], how people use taste to select food or medicine; the taste of plants can define the curing properties or specific diseases of food or medicine, for example, sour tastes are useful for curing fever and nausea. In this study, each herb was linked with the theory of the five elements (Table 3). The natures of these 97 species range from cold (22 species), cool (16), neutral (27), warm (31), and hot (only Durio zibethinus Murr.). Because Guangdong is located in the East Asia monsoon region, it experiences a hot and humid climate. Practitioners of TCM hold that inner heat will accumulate in summer, and this causes many types of illness. However, many people prefer to select cool and cold herbs to clear heat from the body. In our study, the most common function of herbs related to their nature was clearing heat, with 31 plant species having this function. Also, a small amount of a hot herb was often used in CSCS, which is consistent with the ethnobotanical survey conducted here.
Table 3

The relationship between five plant natures and five plant flavor

Nature

Sweet

Bitter

Sour

Salty

Pungent

Neutral

25

3

7

0

1

Warm

21

8

5

1

11

Cold

14

11

1

2

3

Cool

14

2

1

0

2

Hot

1

0

0

0

1

We analyzed the relationship between plant nature and function. Thirty-eight species having a cool or cold nature, among which 23 species are mainly used to clear heat, account for 60.5%. In addition, we can see that the warm herbs are mainly used to tonify qi and yang, which accounts for 61.3% of all herbs analyzed (Fig. 4). Aside from tonifying qi and clearing heat, neutral herbs are mainly used to aid digestion and as astringents. However, no definite corresponding relationship was found to exist between nature and function.

In TCM, an herb with a sour taste would be assumed to be astringent; an herb with a bitter taste would be useful to eliminate dampness; pungent substances are thought to induce sweat; sweetness is supplementing, harmonizing, and moistening; and saltiness can soften hard masses [13]. In this study, 75, 26, 14, 18, and 3 species were classified as sweet, bitter, sour, pungent, and salty, respectively. We tried to find the corresponding relationship between flavor and function. Here, we indicated that sweet, bitter, and pungent herbs can be used as astringents and not just sour herbs. In addition, the main functions of sour herbs are clearing heat, stopping cough, and helping digestion. The main functions of sweet herbs are clearing heat, tonifying qi, nourishing yin, and stopping a cough. The main functions of bitter herbs are clearing heat, tonifying qi, nourishing yin, stopping a cough, and promoting circulation. The main functions of pungent herbs are clearing heat and tonifying qi (Fig. 5). Generally, clearing heat is the main function of all herbs. It seems that there is no obvious connection between flavor and function. In fact, substances may also have more than one flavor. For example, Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels is sweet and pungent, Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. is sweet and sour, and Scrophularia ningpoensis Hemsl. is sweet, bitter, and salty. In addition, each herb has its unique nature. Chinese herbal nature is an important part of TCM theory; a single characteristic (a nature, flavor, element, function, etc.) or two such characteristics cannot reveal the internal law of a particular herb systematically. Also, the 97 species discussed here cannot fully reveal the internal law; additional species will need to be analyzed. The relationship between each of the five elements of an herb and its function needs to be studied comprehensively, with the discussion not only confined to CSCS materials. In addition, we should combine the flavor and nature of an herb to explain the complicated relationship between the five elements and function and not separate flavor from nature.
Fig. 5

The relationship between plant flavor and function

Modern scientific research has been undertaken on the five natures since 1960, mainly in China and Japan, with a focus on pharmacodynamic and substantial foundational research [12]. So far, no definitive compatibility of the five elements and function has been found for Chinese medicinal herbs. The experience from ethnobotanical research related to CSCS will supply some materials for studying the relationship between the five elements and function; this will help to match ingredients with different symptoms.

How to choose a type of soup?

Cantonese people usually match ingredients based on the symptoms, medicinal effect, seasonal changes, physical quality, job, age, and gender of a patient to help people keep physically fit and to prevent and cure diseases.
  1. (1)

    Soup choice depends on the symptoms: Herbs comprise most of the ingredients in CSCS. Chinese medicine emphasizes matching the remedy to the case [12], so the Cantonese will choose different soups for patients with different symptoms. For example, a mix of Ziziphus jujuba Mill. and Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels or Leonurus japonicus Houtt. was used to regulate menstruation; a mix of Ligusticum chuanxiong Hort. and Dumasia hirsuta Craib was used to stop coughing and replenish qi; see Table 2 for details.

     
  2. (2)

    Soup choice depends on the season: The Cantonese choose different soups in different seasons. In spring or summer, the Cantonese tend to choose plants to nourish the liver, such as L. chinense and Cuscuta chinensis Lam., or to nourish the yin, such as S. ningpoensis, D. wilsonii, and Polygonatum odoratum (Mill.) Druce. In autumn or winter, the Cantonese tend to choose plants to moisten the lungs, such as Lilium brownii F. E. Brown ex Miellez, Polygonatum cyrtonema Hua, Pinus koraiensis Sieb. et Zucc., and Panax ginseng C. A. Mey., or to tonify the kidneys, such as Rehmannia glutinosa (Gaetn.) Libosch. ex Fisch. et Mey., Davallia mariesii Moore ex Bak., and Eucommia ulmoides Oliver.

     
  3. (3)

    Soup choice depends on physical quality: TCM contains nine kinds of physical qualities known as moderation, qi deficiency, yang deficiency, phlegm-dampness, blood stasis, qi stagnation, yin deficiency, damp-heat, and allergic qualities [15]. In our field surveys, menu nos. 77 and 100 are suitable for the qi deficiency group; menu nos. 1, 5, 75, 96, 97, and 99 are suitable for the yang deficiency group; menu nos. 2 and 101 are suitable for the phlegm-dampness group; menu nos. 15, 73, 102, and 103 are suitable for the blood stasis group; and nos. 104 and 105 are suitable for the qi stagnation group (Table 4). Epidemiological studies have shown 14–50% of people with hypertension have a yin deficiency. Shen et al. indicated that Chinese food therapy can restore the constitution of the body with a yin-yang imbalance and may be beneficial in controlling blood pressure in hypertensive patients [16]. Benincasa hispida (Thunb.) Cogn., V. radiata, and Glycine max (Linn.) Merr. are good for nourishing the yin.

     
  4. (4)

    Soup choice depends on job category: Night workers, such as taxi drivers, easily suffer from fatigue and anorexia; therefore, they should choose Crataegus pinnatifida Bge. and Citrus reticulata Blanco to increase their appetites. Workers who use computers should choose R. sativus, Dendranthema morifolium (Ramat.) Tzvel., and L. chinense to improve vision.

     
  5. (5)

    Soup choice depends on age and gender: Middle-aged women may have symptoms of endocrine dyscrasia, metabolic disorders, anemia, and osteoporosis caused by hormone problems; for them, the Cantonese would boil A. sinensis, R. glutinosa, Z. jujuba, and R. sativus to nourish the yin and tonify the blood. Middle-aged men may be given Psoralea corylifolia Linn. and E. ulmoides to tonify the yang. The metabolism of an elderly person may gradually weaken; thus, elderly people should use Z. jujuba and Dioscorea fordii Prain et Burkill to invigorate the spleen and stomach as well as to tonify the qi and the blood.

    CSCS can help to keep a person in good health; however, not everyone will want to eat it because of some taboos related to their diets. Herbs not only have nutrients but also numerous chemical components, some of which are known to have biological actions; however, others may have a potential to influence human physiology and pathophysiology, but this area of research remains unexplored [10]. Codonopsis pilosula (Franch.) Nannf. can tonify the qi, replenish the blood [17], and has antitumor activity [18, 19]. Astragalus membranaceus (Fisch.) Bunge can tonify the qi and the yang [20, 21]. Panax quinquefolius Linn. possesses certain effects on tonifying the qi and nourishing the yin [22] and is active against human breast cancer [23]. Polygonatum cyrtonema Hua can tonify the qi, nourish the yin [24], and has anti-HIV properties [25]. Eucommia ulmoides Oliver can tonify the yang [26, 27] and improve the human immune system [28]. In this survey, the Cantonese told us that pregnant women should not eat much Armeniaca vulgaris Lam., Coix lacryma-jobi L., and Hordeum vulgare L. They told us that people who are deficient in cold of the spleen and stomach should not eat much V. radiata. Panax ginseng C. A. Mey. and Panax quinquefolius Linn. cannot be eaten with R. sativus and C. pinnatifida. People who suffer from superfluity syndrome or warm syndrome cannot have C. pilosula. Patients with acute illnesses cannot have A. membranaceus. The Cantonese also told us that people with frequent diarrhea should not eat P. cyrtonema, and those with kidney ailments should not eat E. ulmoides.

     
Table 4

Menus documented in this study

Menu no.

Plant ingredients (Latin name)

Other ingredients (English name)

1

Codonopsis pilosula, Dioscorea fordii, Zingiber officinalis

Quail, pork

2

Ficus hirta, Flemingia philippinensis

Chicken

3

Dumasia hirsuta Craib

Crucian, chicken

4

Cornus officinalis, Euryale ferox

Pork

5

Dioscorea fordii

Crucian, pork

6

Dioscorea fordii, Euryale ferox, Lycium chinense, Adenophora stricta, Polygonatum odoratum, Ziziphusjujuba, Zingiber officinalis

Squab, pork

7

Striga asiatica

Pork

8

Hordeum vulgare

Duck kidney

9

Pseudostellaria heterophylla, Ficus carica, Ziziphus jujuba, Zingiber officinalis

Pork

10

Amomum villosum

Pork tripe, chicken, Hericium erinaceus

11

Amomum villosum

Crucian

12

Castanea mollissim, Dioscorea fordii, Ziziphus jujuba, Zingiber officinalis

Trotters

13

Brassica pekinensis, Euryale ferox, Coix lacryma-jobi, Ziziphus jujuba, Citrus reticulata, Zingiber officinalis

Duck, tofu

14

Pueraria lobata

Dace

15

Vigna umbellata, Stellaria nipponica

 

16

Triticum aestivum, Codonopsis pilosula, Dioscorea fordii, Zingiber officinalis

Pork, beef

17

Artemisia scoparia

Crucian

18

Rosa laevigata, Alisma plantago-aquatica

Pork

19

Raphanus sativus, Zingiber officinalis

Duck

20

Chaenomeles sinensis, Zingiber officinalis

Duck, pork

21

Adenophora stricta, Dioscorea fordii, Polygonatum odoratum, Zingiber officinalis

Goose, pork

22

Dumasia hirsuta, Citrus reticulata, Zingiber officinalis

Carp, pork

23

Lilium lancifolium, Citrus reticulata, Zingiber officinalis

Crucian, pork

24

Armeniaca vulgaris

Crocodile

25

Eriobotrya japonica (leaves)

Fish

26

Chaenomeles sinensis, Zingiber officinalis

Cuttlefish, pork

27

Astragalus membranaceus, Oryza sativa var. glutinosa (root)

Fish

28

Vigna unguiculata, Zingiber officinalis

Fish

29

Oryza sativa var. glutinosa (root), Pseudostellaria heterophylla

Loach

30

Polygonatum cyrtonema, Zingiber officinalis

Oyster, chicken

31

Polygonatum odoratum, Adenophora stricta, Coix lacryma-jobi, Zingiber officinalis

Pork, tendon

32

Armeniaca vulgaris, Pyrus pyrifolia, Ephedra sinica, Ziziphus jujuba

Pork

33

Malus pumila, Ephedra sinica, Ziziphus jujuba

Pork, tremella

34

Olea europaea

Conch, pork

35

Glycine max, Sauropus spatulifolius (leave)

Crucian

36

Panax quinquefolius

Pork

37

Ginkgo biloba (fruit), Nelumbo nucifera, Zingiber officinalis

Chicken

38

Glycine max, Momordica charantia

Pork ribs

39

Raphanus sativus, Ziziphus jujuba, Citrus reticulata, Zingiber officinalis

Pork ribs

40

Nelumbo nucifera, Luffa acutangula, Zingiber officinalis

Chicken

41

Panax quinquefolius, Dioscorea fordii, Ziziphus jujuba, Zingiber officinalis

Squab

42

Vigna radiata, Lilium lancifolium, Panax quinquefolius

Squab

43

Arachis hypogaea, Astragalus membranaceus, Ziziphus jujuba

Beef

44

Nelumbo nucifera, Litchi chinensis, Zingiber officinalis

Duck

45

Dendrobium wilsonii, Dioscorea fordii, Lycium chinense, Citrusӱeticulate

Pork

46

Dendrobium wilsonii, Pyrus pyrifolia

Duck

47

Dendrobium officinale, Ophiopogon japonicus, Ziziphus jujuba

Pork

48

Dendrobium wilsonii, Lycium chinense

Pork liver

49

Angelica sinensis, Ziziphus jujuba

 

50

Leonurus japonicas, Ziziphus jujuba

 

51

Pinus koraiensis, Panax quinquefolius

Chicken or pork

52

Pinus koraiensis

Pork

53

Arachis hypogaea, Citrus reticulata

Pork

54

Olea europaea, Castanea mollissima, Raphanus sativus

Quail, pork

55

Hylocereus undatus (flower), Imperata cylindrica, Armeniaca vulgaris, Ziziphus jujuba

Pork lung

56

Dioscorea fordii, Ziziphus jujube, Zingiber officinalis

Pork

57

Laminaria japonica, Vigna unguiculata, Panax notoginseng

A: scorpion, pork; B: squab

58

Vigna radiata, Lilium lancifolium, Dendrobium officinale, Panax quinquefolius

 

59

Vigna radiate, Momordica charantia

Pork

60

Lycium chinense, Zingiber officinalis, Allium fistulosum

Beef

61

Quisqualis indica

Pork

62

Dendrobium officinale, Polygonatum odoratum, Adenophora stricta

Pork

63

Glycine max, Cocos nucifera, Ficus carica, Zingiber officinalis

Chicken

64

Ranunculus ternatus, Zingiber officinalis

Pork

65

Eucommia ulmoides, Psoralea corylifolia, Zingiber officinalis

Pork ribs

66

Dioscorea fordii, Zingiber officinalis

Fish, pork

67

Lablab purpureus, Arachis hypogaea, Zea mays, Zingiber officinalis

Fish, pork

68

Ficus carica, Arachis hypogaea, Zingiber officinalis

Pork, tripe

69

Durio zibethinus, Zingiber officinalis

Crucian

70

Dioscorea fordii, Euryale ferox, Nelumbo nucifera

Hippocampus, pork

71

Ilex pubescens, Lycium chinense, Cuscuta chinensis, Rehmannia glutinosa, Zingiber officinalis

Pork

72

Lycopersicon esculentum, Daucus carota subsp. sativus, Zingiber officinalis, Allium fistulosum

Pork

73

Ligusticum chuanxiong, Dumasia hirsuta

Pork

74

Ranunculus ternatus, Prunella vulgaris, Glycine max

Pork

75

Dendrobium officinale, Panax quinquefolius, Dioscorea fordii

Chicken or pork

76

Saccharum sinense, Raphanus sativus, Citrus reticulata, Zingiber officinalis

Pork

77

Codonopsis pilosula, Lilium lancifolium, Zingiber officinalis

Squab

78

Euryale ferox, Zingiber officinalis

Chitterlings, scallops

79

Nelumbo nucifera, Zingiber officinalis

Carp

80

Fritillaria cirrhosa, Eriobotrya japonica (leaves)

Fish, pork

81

Salvia miltiorrhiza

Chicken

82

Nelumbo nucifera, Castanea mollissima, Zingiber officinalis

Pork kidney

83

Armeniaca vulgaris, Pyrus pyrifolia, Lilium lancifolium

Goose

84

Dumasia hirsuta, Triticum aestivum, Rehmannia glutinosa, Zingiber officinalis, Citrus reticulata

Oyster, pork

85

Euryale ferox, Juglans regia, Dioscorea fordii, Zingiber officinalis

Pork kidney

86

Astragalus membranaceus, Ziziphus jujube, Zingiber officinalis

Eel, pork kidney

87

Ficus carica, Ziziphus jujube, Zingiber officinalis

Chicken

88

Colocasia esculenta, Zingiber officinalis

Pork, scallops

89

Allium fistulosum, Zingiber officinalis

Chicken, mushroom

90

Eucommia ulmoides, Cistanche deserticola

Pork

91

Nelumbo nucifera, Vigna umbellata, Zingiber officinalis, Ziziphus jujuba

Squid, pigeon

92

Mentha haplocalyx, Magnolia officinalis

Pork

93

Atractylodes macrocephala

Crucian

94

Houttuynia cordata, Siraitia grosvenorii

Pork lung

95

Pyrus pyrifolia, Armeniaca vulgaris

Jellyfish

96

Lycium chinense, Ziziphus jujube

Chicken

97

Angelica sinensis, Zingiber officinale

Mutton

98

Angelica sinensis, Rehmannia glutinosa

Squab

99

Dioscorea fordii, Raphanus sativus, Ziziphus jujube, Lycium chinense

Chicken

100

Panax ginseng, Ziziphus jujube, Lycium chinense

Silkie

101

Coix lacryma-jobi, Lablab purpureus, Citrus reticulate, Ziziphus jujube

Squab

102

Crataegus pinnatifida, Raphanus sativus

Pork feet

103

Rosa rugosa, Carthamus tinctorius, Angelica sinensis

Pork

104

Dendranthema morifolium, Jasminum sambac

Chicken liver, tremella

105

Citrus limon, Ziziphus jujube, Lycium chinense

Chicken

106

Lophatherum gracile, Juncus bufonius, Ophiopogon japonicus

 

107

Rehmannia glutinosa, Scrophularia ningpoensis

Pork

108

Panax notoginseng, Ziziphus jujube

Frog

109

Rehmannia glutinosa, Carthamus tinctorius, Angelica sinensis

Silkie

110

Davallia mariesii

Pork

111

Isatis tinctoria, Osmunda japonica

Pork

112

Benincasa hispida

Crucian

113

Dioscorea fordii, Zea mays

 

Conclusions

The number of groups of people with less than robust health continues to increase. In the long course of development of CSCSs, the quintessence of TCM has been adopted. Different soups have different functions. CSCS has four dimensions: social, functional, cultural, and economic. As soup materials, traditional knowledge of various plants used in CSCS was documented, including local plant name, function, part(s) used, flavor, nature, preparation before decoction, habitat, and cultural significance indices. Knowledge of these herbs used in food therapy will provide a broad socio-anthropological context related to eating. The relationships among the nature, flavor, and function of herbs seem to be related to each other but are not absolute, which will be a key point of consideration in TCM. In addition, these theories of CSCS will provide the essential basis for the analyses and clinical usage of Chinese herbs.

Abbreviations

CR: 

Critically endangered

CSCS: 

Cantonese slow-cooked soup

EI: 

Economic Index

EN: 

Endangered

FUI: 

Frequency of use index

QI: 

Mention Index

TCM: 

Traditional Chinese medicine

VU: 

Vulnerable

Declarations

Acknowledgments

We are very grateful to the local people in Guangdong Province who provided invaluable information. We appreciate the funding received from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31600254), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province of China (Grant No. BK20150491), the Start-Up Fund for Advanced Talents of Jiangsu University (Grant No. 14JDG150), the School of Agricultural Equipment Engineering at Jiangsu University, and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD, [2014]37), “Youth backbone teacher training project” for young academic leaders cultivation candidates of Jiangsu University.

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 31600254), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province of China (Grant No. BK20150491), the National Science Foundation for Post-doctoral Scientists of China (Grant No.2017M621651), the Jiangsu Postdoctoral Sustentation Fund (Grant No. 1701070B), the Start-Up Fund for Advanced Talents of Jiangsu University (Grant No. 14JDG150), “Youth backbone teacher training project” for young academic leaders cultivation candidates of Jiangsu University, the School of Agricultural Equipment Engineering at Jiangsu University, and the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD, [2014]37).

Availability of data and materials

We are willing to share the data generated or analyzed during the current study.

Authors’ contributions

LYJ and LCL conceived of and designed the study, conducted the data collection, and interpreted the data. Literature retrieval was done by LYJ, LQ, and XDK. Field surveys were conducted by LYJ, LP, and LCL. LL and HHG analyzed the data. LYJ drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

We followed ethical guidelines adopted by the International Society of Ethnobiology (2008). Permissions were verbally informed by all participants in this study, including the owner of soup material store shown in the cover photo. She has declared that she has no objection to the publication of her pictures in the journal. The Human subject approval was obtained from the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Minzu University of China, prior to beginning work.

Consent for publication

Not applicable

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Publisher’s Note

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Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
School of Agricultural Equipment and Engineering, Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, China
(2)
College of Natural Resources and Environment, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, China
(3)
Institute of Basic Theory, China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China
(4)
Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China
(5)
College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Minzu University of China, Beijing, China

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© The Author(s). 2018

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