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Hovenia Dulcis: What is it?

Hovenia Dulcis is the Latin name for the Japanese Raisin Tree and the plant dihydromyricetin is derived from. Cultivated in most countries now, it’s origins span thousands of years where it’s been found all over Asia, ranging from the Himalayan mountains to Korea and most often Eastern China.

It’s a tree worth talking about not just because of it’s fascinating medicinal qualities, but also for it’s positive impact on the environment. We’ll dig into what makes it so special in this quick blog post.

Hovenia Dulcis Textbook
Hovenia Dulcis Leaves and Fruit

About the tree

At full maturity it grows to 10-30m tall, and very quickly, often up to 6m per year in it’s early life. Due to it’s origins, it’s hardy to the UK’s soil and weather, and isn’t tender to frosty conditions.


Identifiable as medium heart-shaped to oval leaves, they’re dense, waxy, and often a very dark green in colour but brightened by the light reflection and white flowers.

Interestingly the young leaves of the tree contain an ant-sweet agent, that reduces the ability to taste sweet flavours as intensely — presumably to protect its rich sugary fruits from being eaten by indiscriminate herbivores.


The Japanese Raisin Tree flowers early into summer, usually around June, with rich off-white clusters. The flowers are lightly scented, and extend in ‘terminal cymes‘ that dry and fall. If the summer is hot enough these flowers will give way into the fruits in late summer, around September, from which the tree gets its colloquial name.


The edible raisin-like fruits

Surprisingly, the Dulcis fruit isn’t actually a fruit at all, but is instead technically ‘savoury peduncles’ (in laymen’s terms swollen stems – as seen in this photo) which when fully ripe have the sweet taste of raisins.

While these ‘fruits’ were often turned into tea or honey, they were usually just picked and eaten.


Originally native to Asia, H. Dulcis has been introduced into several other countries including Brazil, England, and Thailand, among others. Thriving on sandy soils, Hovenia is ideal for subtropical forests and those with warmer climates.

Due to it’s fast growth, Dulcis has been used to aid in reforestation efforts in Thailand, due to the need of a replacement for Eucalyptus to preserve the ecological balance while introducing fast-growing species.

Growing up to 6-10 metres per year, it’s use in reforestation and in encouraging wildlife ecosystems is significant. Both birds and mammals feed on the sweet fruit of the tree, creating thriving ecological diversity above many other trees used for similar purposes.

Since migrating to other countries as an ornamental tree, it’s now available in many garden nurseries all over the world.

Hovenia Dulcis Tea being poured in the traditional Chinese manner.
Hovenia Dulcis tea

Traditional Uses

Originating in China, Hovenia Dulcis has been used for its myriad health benefits. H. Dulcis can be eaten fresh, dried, made into a tea, or boiled and turned into a syrup which would then be used as a substitute for honey.

According to Chinese medicine, the Oriental Raisin Tree’s edible fruit was used for creating a tea that would cure temperatures, fever, and infections, as a laxative, and as a treatment of liver problems or hangovers.

Edible raw or cooked, the fruit is sweet and tastes like raisins (which is where it gets the name ‘Japanese Raison Tree’). It’s the extract of the seeds of these fruits — the compound Dihydromyricetin — that is purified and used in many very effective herbal hangover remedies throughout the world including our DHM Capsules.

Where to buy the tree

The tree can commonly be found in plant nurseries, and seeds can be bought online from various vendors:

Online Nurseries

Buy Hovenia Dulcis Seeds


Where Hovenia Dulcis really comes into its own and why its popularity has grown immensely over the last several years is in it’s purported ability to aid liver function and reduce hangovers. The extract of the fruit of Hovenia Dulcis is highly effective at significantly reducing alcohol induced hangovers and their symptoms. It does this by supporting the liver, helping it to speed up acetaldehyde metabolism, but also by other interesting mechanisms of actions such as reversing alcohol-induced loss of muscle tone.

Hovenia Dulcis extract is available in the UK and Europe here:

Buy Hovenia Dulcis Extract (Dihydromyricetin)



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