Description from Flora of China
Bupleurum chinense Franchet (1883), not de Candolle (1830); B. chinense de Candolle f. vanheurckii (Müller Argoviensis) R. H. Shan & Yin Li; B. falcatum Linnaeus f. ensifolium H. Wolff; B. togasii Kitagawa; B. vanheurckii Müller Argoviensis.
Plants 50–85 cm, perennial. Root stout, elongate, brown, woody, usually branched. Stem solitary or several, dichotomously much-branched above, base without fibrous remnant sheaths. Basal leaves oblanceolate or narrow-elliptic, 4–7 × 0.6–0.8 cm, base tapering into petioles, apex acuminate. Middle leaves broadly linear-lanceolate, 4–12 × 0.6–1.8(–3) cm, 7–9-nerved, abaxially glaucous, apex apiculate. Apical leaves small. Umbels numerous, 2–6 cm across; peduncles slender, greatly spreading forming a large loose panicle; bracts 0 or 2–3, linear, 1–5 × 0.5–1 mm, 3-nerved; rays 3–8, very slender, 1–3 cm, unequal; bracteoles 5, lanceolate, 3–3.5 × 0.6–1 mm, shorter than flowers; umbellules 4–6 mm across, 5–10-flowered. Petal bright yellow. Stylopodium low-conic, discoid, dark yellow. Fruit oblong, brown, ca. 3 × 2 mm; ribs prominent, narrowly winged, wings pale brown; vittae 3(–4) in each furrow, 4 on commissure. Fl. and fr. Sep–Oct. n = 6*.
This Bupleurum is one of two primary species the roots of which are used for the major traditional Chinese medicine “chai hu” (see also B. scorzonerifolium). It is a very widespread species, within which three forms are currently recognized: f. pekinense (Franchet ex Hemsley) R. H. Shan & Yin Li (Acta Phytotax. Sin. 12: 293. 1974; B. pekinense Franchet ex Hemsley, J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 23: 327. 1887), distinguished by having leaves rigid, papery, both surfaces gray-green; f. chiliosciadium (H. Wolff) R. H. Shan & Yin Li (loc. cit.; B. falcatum Linnaeus var. chiliosciadium H. Wolff, Acta Horti Gothob. 2: 303. 1926), distinguished by having peduncles much-branched and umbellules numerous, small; and f. octoradiatum (Bunge) R. H. Shan & M. L. Sheh (Fl. Reipubl. Popularis Sin. 55(1): 293. 1979; B. octoradiatum Bunge, Mém. Acad. Imp. Sci. St.-Pétersbourg Divers Savans 2: 106. 1835), distinguished by having branches non-flexuous, bracteoles elliptic-lanceolate, usually exceeding umbellules in flower and longer than pedicels in fruit, and chromosome number n = 6 + 1 - 2B*.
Grasslands, stream banks, sunny slopes, roadsides; 100–2700 m. Anhui, Gansu, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Zhejiang.