So many Chinese herbs reside in our gardens, their healing properties unbenknownst to most of us. Take the balloon flower, a common garden plant that opens up bright blue in the early summer and is shaped like a rounded bell, or like a balloon. It’s Chinese name is Jie Geng. An interesting characteristic of Chinese herbal medicine is the way it describes herbs as having affinities for certain organs in the body and also for directing energy in certain ways in the body. Jie Geng has an affinity for the lung, and it also acts as an “herb guide” to the lung for other herbs because it has a rising quality, directing the action of other herbs above the diaphragm. This is the herb of choice for any “excess” lung problem, which basically means phlegm. It clears the lungs, resolving heat and phlegm from that organ and is usually found in herbal formulas for productive cough.