Thermopsis: tips for planting and care in open ground

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Thermopsis: tips for planting and care in open ground
Thermopsis: tips for planting and care in open ground

A general description of thermopsis, how to plant and grow in the open field, advice on breeding, possible difficulties in gardening, use and curious notes, types.

Thermopsis (Thermopsis) is included according to the botanical classification to the genus of perennial plants with a herbaceous form of vegetation. They belong to the extensive family of Legumes (Fabaceae). In nature, the growing area falls on the North American continent, East Asian regions: the lands of China, Japan and the Himalayas. It can also be found in Siberia. The genus includes about 30 species, which are successfully used as decorative crops and for medicinal purposes.

Family name Legumes
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Herbaceous
Breeds Using seeds or root suckers
Open ground transplant terms In the end of May
Landing rules At a distance of 15-20 cm from each other
Priming Nutritious, loose, light and rich in micronutrients
Soil acidity values, pH 6, 5-7 (neutral)
Illumination level Open and well-lit location or partial shade
Humidity level Moderate and regular watering
Special care rules Unpretentious
Height options 0.1-1 m
Flowering period June July
Type of inflorescences or flowers Sparse racemose inflorescence
Color of flowers Yellow or purple
Fruit type Seed bean
The timing of fruit ripening Aug. Sept
Decorative period Summer
Application in landscape design For the formation of borders, in flower beds or flower beds, in hedges
USDA zone 4–6

According to one of the versions, the genus got its name from the merger of two words in Greek “thermos” and “opsis”, which translate as “lupine” and “appearance”, that is, the phrase “similar to lupine” was obtained. In all likelihood, this is associated with thermopsis flowers. According to another explanation, the plant carries an educated term from the Greek words - "small spear", which directly indicates the outlines of the leaf plates. People can hear how it is called drunken grass, mouse, arsenic.

All types of thermopsis are characterized by a thickened creeping rhizome, the root processes are connected in a shell, thin and cicatricial. Rhizome gives rise to upright annual stems, varying in height within the range of 10–100 cm. The stems themselves are distinguished by branching and good foliage. Their color is greenish-gray. With the arrival of late autumn, the entire aboveground part of the plant dies off.

The leaf plates grow on the stems in a regular order, painted in gray or grayish-green color. The leaf shape of thermopsis is trifoliate. Leaf lobes differ in narrowed and oblong contours. The petiole is much inferior in length to the stipules, so it seems that the leaf has a five-fingered structure.

During flowering, which in thermopsis falls on the period of June-July, flowers form in the leaf axils. The buds are crowned with pedicels and gather in thin racemose inflorescences. The color of the petals in the flowers (like all legumes with moth or bell-shaped outlines) are painted in a yellow tint, but occasionally they can take on a purple tint. The calyx is five-toothed. Clawed petals. There are five pairs of stamens inside the flower.

After pollination from August to October, fruits ripen, which have the appearance of a bean in thermopsis. The shape of the beans is linear-oblong or ovoid, they grow straight or curved, the surface is leathery.The length of such a fruit is about 6 cm, at the top it has an elongated spout. When fully ripe, the beans open with a pair of valves. Inside the bean are kidney-shaped seeds with a shiny surface. The shape of the seeds is spherical-ovoid. The color is brown or dark olive. If we talk about weight, then there are about a thousand seeds in 22-28 grams.


It should be remembered that all parts of the thermopsis are poisonous and therefore the planting site should be thought out in advance so that the fruits and flowers are not accessible to small children or pets.

The genus of thermopsis in China seems to be divided into three groups. Thermopsis lupinoides and Thermopsis chinensis are upright plants with terminal inflorescences, apparently stemming from the same rhizome. Thermopsis lanceolata is an upright plant, also with inflorescences crowning the tops of the stems, has numerous aerial shoots resulting from the spread of rhizomes. Plants such as bearded thermopsis (Thermopsis barbata), inflata (Thermopsis inflata), Schmidt (Thermopsis smithiana) and alpine (Thermopsis alpina) are all early flowering species in which inflorescences arise early from the rhizome, before the main leaf shoots appear. Then the basal buds on the flowering shoot, below the inflorescence, develop into long leafy shoots that are completely different in appearance from the premature flowering material.

Thermopsis is characterized by unpretentiousness and even a novice gardener can cope with its cultivation, just take care of some of the agrotechnical conditions listed below.

How to plant and grow thermopsis in the open field?

Thermopsis blooms
  1. Landing place it is recommended to select an open and well-lit myocardium, which will guarantee a long and lush flowering, but a location with a little shading may also be suitable. This representative of the flora is quite persistent in culture and does not require special conditions, although it is characterized by growth, but does not show aggressiveness to surrounding plants, and will not displace "green neighbors" from nearby territories.
  2. Priming for growing thermopsis, it is necessary to select nutritious and loose. However, the plant in nature perfectly shows growth on a sandy and stony substrate, so if the soil is depleted on the site, then the "drunk grass" will still develop normally. When the soil on the site is too wet or heavy, then it is necessary to mix river sand into it or, when planting in the hole, lay a drainage layer (fine expanded clay or coarse sand). To increase fertility, compost and peat chips are mixed into the substrate.
  3. Planting thermopsis it is carried out to the flower bed no earlier than the end of May, when the tender sprouts will not die from return frosts. The planting hole should be slightly larger than the earthen clod surrounding the root system of the mouse seedling. When planting, it is recommended not to destroy the earthen lump. When the plant is installed in the hole, then all the voids are filled with soil mixture and gently squeezed around it. After that, you need to perform abundant moistening of the soil. To keep moisture in the soil longer, you can mulch the soil around the "drunken grass" seedling using peat chips. If this perennial plant was transplanted, then the rules remain the same as for the initial planting. Moistening the soil must be carried out regularly until rooting is successful.
  4. Watering when caring for thermopsis, it is necessary to carry out moderate, but regular. Do not bring the soil to waterlogging, as this can provoke rotting of the root system.
  5. Fertilizers it is possible not to use thermopsis when growing, but the plant will respond with gratitude to the introduction of complete mineral complexes (for example, Kemira) or organic matter (compost).
  6. Winter hardiness. When growing thermopsis on a personal plot, you do not need to think about sheltering the bushes of "drunken grass" for the winter months, since the plants are distinguished by good frost resistance. There is information that, without harm to itself, the mousewort could withstand a decrease in the thermometer column to -25 frost, and such species as bean thermopsis (Thermopsis fabacea) and rhomboid (Thermopsis rhombifolia) are able to withstand 35-degree frosts.
  7. Collection of thermopsis it is recommended to spend in the summer, throughout the entire flowering period. For this, dry weather is selected so that more active nutrients accumulate in parts suitable for medicinal plants. For such medical purposes, it is recommended to collect the upper, non-lignified part of the stems with leaves and inflorescences at the tops. To collect the fruits of thermopsis, dry September days are predicted. By this time, the beans will dry out and can be threshed to extract the seeds and ventilate.
  8. Drying the collected herb thermopsis is carried out in the shade, with good ventilation. The temperature, if the grass is to be dried indoors, should reach 50 degrees. The stalks of the mousewort are tied in bunches and hung with flowers down in the attic or the collected material is laid out in a thin layer under a canopy on the street on a clean cloth or paper. It is periodically required to stir up the arsenic grass. So that it does not evaporate. When the stems and leaves are completely dry (become brittle), they are folded into linen bags, removing too large parts of the shoots. It is recommended to store such dried material in a dark and dry room throughout the year.
  9. The use of thermopsis in landscape design. Although the mousewort cannot compete with roses or peonies, it will successfully revive a flower bed or a flower garden with its bright yellow flowers. Since in some species the stems can reach a height of one meter, with the help of such plants it is possible to use them for borders or when forming hedges. Such bushes with yellow inflorescences in rockeries or on the banks of a natural or artificial reservoir will look good, especially with dry soil in such places. You can plant the mouse plant next to shrubs or on lawns.

See also guidelines for planting and caring for broom outdoors.

Thermopsis breeding tips

Thermopsis in the ground

In order to grow "drunken grass" on your personal plot, it is recommended to carry out seed and vegetative propagation. The latter includes the rooting of root suckers, thanks to which the formation of clumps takes place, which differ not only in compactness, but also in decorative characteristics.

Reproduction of thermopsis using seeds

Sowing seed is recommended with the arrival of spring. Sowing is carried out in seedling boxes filled with a loose and nutritious substrate (it can be mixed from river sand and peat chips, or you can use ready-made store-bought soil for seedlings). After sowing, the container should be covered with a glass bush or wrapped in a plastic transparent film to create conditions with high humidity and heat. The temperature during germination should be between 16-20 degrees. Also, such care involves periodic airing (to remove condensation accumulated on the film) and watering the soil if it begins to dry out from above.

When, after 1–2 months, thermopsis sprouts on the soil surface, the airing is made longer, gradually increasing this time to around the clock, until the shelter is completely removed. In the last week of May, you can start diving the mousewort seedlings in separate containers (you can use peat cups) and when the plants get stronger, transplant them into open ground. Some gardeners immediately transplant seedlings to a flower bed, bypassing the dive operation.

Propagation of thermopsis by root suckers

During the spring-summer period, they are engaged in dividing an oversized bush. To do this, the plant is carefully removed from the soil and with the help of a well-pointed shovel from the overgrown curtain of "drunken grass" it is necessary to cut off the cut, with a sufficient number of roots and stems. Places of cuts should be sprinkled with powdered charcoal to avoid contamination. Delenki immediately land on a prepared place in the garden. After planting the offspring, it is necessary to water abundantly.

Possible difficulties in garden cultivation of thermopsis

Thermopsis is growing

Usually "drunk grass" is practically not affected by harmful insects and diseases. However, if the weather is too humid, rhizome decay may occur from the acidification of the substrate. Therefore, when planting, you should take into account such a moment, using drainage and not be zealous with watering during drought. For treatment, a thermopsis should be dug out, all rotten root parts should be removed and treated with a fungicidal agent. After that, transplantation into disinfected soil is carried out, and they try to limit watering until the "arsenic" bush recovers.

Application and curious notes about thermopsis

Flowering Thermopsis

For a long time, despite the toxicity of the parts of the musculoskeletal system, it has been used in folk medicine. For this, both the entire aerial part of the plant and its ripened seeds are suitable. This is because green stems and foliage contain, in addition to a number of alkaloids, some other active elements, such as resins and tannins, saponins and vitamin C. These components have a ganglion-blocking effect, that is, they block the supply of impulses to some parts (ganglia) of the nervous system. There is also an essential oil. It is important to note that all types of alkaloids can have a wide variety of physiological effects on the human body.

In addition, it is possible to make preparations from thermopsis herb that promote expectoration of sputum, this is helped by isoquinoline alkaloids found in greenery. There is an excitement of the respiratory centers and stimulation of vomiting. All means, which include "drunk grass" are famous for their expectorant properties, as the secretory function of the bronchial glands increases, while the ciliated epithelium is activated, which accelerates the secretion excretion. The tone of the smooth muscles of the bronchi increases due to the central vagotropic effect.

In the course of clinical studies, it was revealed that using thermopsis, it is possible to replace it with plants such as ipecacuanha or emetic root (Carapichea ipecacuanha) or senega istode (Polygala senega) from the euphorbia family, used for medicinal purposes.

Since ancient times, decoctions from thermopsis have been used because of their pronounced antihelminthic effect. Since the herb contained the substance pachircapin, which is known for its ability to increase the tone of the muscles of the uterus, preparations based on it were recommended for various types of obliterating endarteritis and even when it was necessary to stimulate labor.

Because of its expectorant and tonic properties, folk medicine men used thermopsis in the treatment of influenza and bronchitis, eliminated pneumonia and catarrh of the respiratory tract. Dried mouse grass has an aroma that vaguely resembles that of poppy seeds. Their taste is astringent with the presence of bitterness.


Due to the increased toxicity of the plant, it is recommended to undergo treatment strictly under the supervision of the attending physician and not to violate the dosage of the drugs.

Dosing of thermopsis occurs in accordance with the patient's weight, so for an adult the recommended dose is only 0.1 gram of dry matter (the herb is dried and ground into powder).

Contraindications for the use of drugs based on thermopsis is the patient's tendency to hemoptysis.

Since 1993, the plant has been included in the USSR State Pharmacopoeial List.Official medicine began to actively use "drunk grass", making dry extracts and powders, tablets and tinctures on its basis. Also, the composition of such a drug as "Cititon", intended for both intramuscular or intravenous administration, also includes thermopsis. This medication is able to stimulate the adrenal glands, which in turn increases blood pressure, and also stimulates respiratory processes.

Since all parts of thermopsis are characterized by high toxicity, the plant is used in horticulture to make a solution that helps to combat harmful insects, such as aphids (a carrier of incurable viral diseases), sawflies, meadow moths and cabbage scoops. The mousewort grass is crumbled into a container of water, set to ferment and then used for spraying. Before using such a remedy, a little grated laundry soap is mixed into it. If you moisten fluffy lime with this infusion and process the deciduous mass of plants, you can save them from the rape flower beetle, flea beetles and beetroot beet.

Description of types of thermopsis

In the photo, Thermopsis lancent

Thermopsis lanceolata (Thermopsis lanceolata)

may occur under the name lanceolate thermopsis. It is used not only as an ornamental culture, but also for medicinal purposes. It is he who is called a muster, arsenic or drunken grass. In nature, he prefers to settle in meadows and wastelands, along ravines. The growing area includes Mongolia, Russia and Kyrgyzstan, in China it is found in the provinces of Gansu, Hebei, Nei Mongol, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Xinjiang, Sizan. It is a perennial herb. Stems straight, 12–40 cm, ribbed, cream color, pubescent surface. Stipules ovate-lanceolate, 1.5–3 cm, pointed.

The petiole of thermopsis lanceolate is 3–8 mm long. Leaflets are linear-oblong or oblong to linear. Their size is 2, 5–7, 5 x 0, 5–1, 6 cm, with an adpressed pubescent process, glabrous on the dorsum. During flowering, which occurs in May-July, terminal racemose inflorescences are formed at the tops. Their length is 6–17 cm. The inflorescences are composed of 2 or 3 whorled flowers or 2–6 whorls. Bracts 8–20 mm, persistent.

The calyx of lanceolate thermopsis is 1, 5–2, 2 cm long, flexible, densely pubescent. Corolla yellow, 2, 5–2, 8 cm, petals with a long claw. The ovary is densely pubescent, with a pedicle of 2–3 mm. When fruiting in June-October, brown beans of a linear shape ripen. Their size is 5-9 x 0, 7-1, 2 cm, their surface is pubescent, there is a beak. 6-14 seeds grow inside the bean. They are located along the central line of the valve, black with a grayish-waxy bloom, reniform, 3–5 x 2, 5–3, 5 mm, smooth.

In the photo Thermopsis bean

Bean thermopsis (Thermopsis fabacea)

grows in nature on sandy lands, in the floodplains of ravines or sea areas. The territory of distribution is Japan, Korea, Russia (Kamchatka, Sakhalin), in China (Heilongjiang, Jilin). It is a herbaceous perennial with stems 50–80 cm tall. They grow erect, vertically ribbed, the apical part is white, pubescent. Stipules are elliptical or ovate, 2–5 x 1, 5–3 cm, equal to the petioles. Leaflets are broadly elliptic, 3, 5-8 x (2-) 2, 5-3, 5 (-4, 7) cm, wedge-shaped bases. The leaf apex is obtuse or sharp, the end is rather long, broadly lanceolate, white pubescent, glabrous on the reverse side.

Blossoming in May-August. Inflorescences of legume thermopsis in the form of brushes are terminal, their length is 5–18 (-25) cm, densely pubescent. Numerous flowers are arranged in succession and grow scattered. Bracts are lanceolate, 8–15 mm; pedicels 5–10 mm. The cup is long. 10 mm, densely pubescent. Corolla 2–2.5 cm, petals are about the same. The ovary is densely silky; there are 10-14 ovules. Leguminous fruits are linear, 3-9 (-12) x 0.5-0.8 cm, straight and tapering upward, spreading, rarely brownish-hairy. Seeds are dark brown, reniform, compressed, their size is 3-4 x 2-3 mm.

In the photo Thermopsis alpine

Alpine thermopsis (Thermopsis alpina)

… The growing area is in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia and China (Gansu, Hebei, Qinghai, Sichuan, Xinjiang, Xizan, Yunnan). Preference is given to sandy coastal river zones, alpine tundra, gravel desert. Growing height 2400–4800 m. Herbaceous perennial 12–30 cm high, from a massive tree stock. Stems are straight, simple or slightly branched, white villous, at least at the nodes. Stipules ovate or broadly lanceolate, 2-3.5 cm long, wedge-shaped or rounded bases, sharp apex. Leaflets are linearly obovate or ovate. Their size is 2–5, 5 x 0, 8–2, 5 cm, usually densely villous on the back, glabrous or villous along the midvein and along the edges on the upper side, the apex is sharp.

Alpine thermopsis bloom in May-July. The terminal inflorescences reach 5-15 cm in length. They are composed of 2 or 3 whorled flowers, or in 2 or 3 curls. Bracts 10-18 mm, villous. Calyx 10–17 mm, slightly convex. Corolla yellow, 2–2, 8 cm, long, clawed petals. Ovary 4–8 ovate; its leg is 2–5 mm. When July comes and until August, the beans begin to ripen. Fruits are transparent, shiny brown, ovate-oblong. Pods are 2–5 (-6) x 1–2 cm in size, flat, usually curved downward, surface with sparse white villi, long valves. Seeds number 3-4, brown, kidney-shaped, with parameters 5-6 x 3-4 mm, compressed. The seed hilum is gray.

In the photo, Thermopsis rhomboid

Thermopsis rhombifolia (Thermopsis rhombifolia)

occurs under the name thermopsis mountain… It is also a herbaceous perennial. The height of the stems varies within 30-60 cm. The stems grow straight, on them small-sized leaves of diamond-shaped outlines unfold. The flowers are small, the petals are yellow. Flowering occurs in all summer months.

Related article: Planting and caring for hedichia in open field conditions

Video about the use and cultivation of thermopsis in open field conditions:

Thermopsis photos:

Photo of Thermopsis 1 Photo of Thermopsis 2 Photo of Thermopsis 3 Photo of Thermopsis 4 Photo of Thermopsis 5

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