Astragalus has a rich history of use in Chinese and Asian cultures. It is native to China, Mongolia and North Korea, and is an ancient component of traditional Chinese medicine. The herb was mentioned in the Divine Husbandman's Classic of the Materia Medica, written anonymously during the first century AD and attributed to the teachings of the legendary figure Shennong who is thought to have lived approximately 5,000 years ago.
Astragalus is an herbaceous perennial, growing between 25 and 40 centimeters in height. It grows in grassy regions and on mountainsides, requiring plenty of exposure to the sun. When grown for cultivation, the plants are traditionally harvested after four or five years, with the roots collected in spring or fall. The medicinal roots are dried in the sun and then sliced for distribution. The slices are yellow in color and have a sweet, moistening taste with a firm, fibrous texture.