Does anyone know the reason why 生地黃 is called 地黃 [yellow earth]? I don't know if 六味地黄丸 took the name from 生地黃 or viceversa, but either way I couldn't find neither the etymology of 六味地黄丸 in English (I still can't understand Chinese properly). Any idea for the reason of the presence of 地黄 in the two?


2 Answers 2


黃 is sometimes a plant name: 大黃 'rhubarb' (this used to be dai-huang, not da-huang), 麻黃 ephedra'; 地 sometimes means a tuber, seems that's not the case here. One source identifies 3 varieties: 天黃, 人黃, 地黃. This is the 三合 system.

  • 1
    see above quote,根茎 (rhizome; rootstock; tuber; rhizoma; rootstalk)肉质 ,鲜时黄色
    – user6065
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 2:11
  • Good catch! (nice hat,too)
    – wpt
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 2:26

地黄 is the plant, Rehmannia glutinosa. For TCM, it can be used in various ways:

  • fresh: 鲜地黄(生地黄、鲜生地)

  • dried: 干地黄(生地黄、干生地)

  • processed: 熟地黄(熟地)

生 (raw) is usually a synonym to 鲜 (fresh), but here also means unprocessed and therefore equivalent to either 鲜 (fresh) or 干 (dry).


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