Dongqua is a perennial herb with large somewhat triangular leaves with thick, fleshy stems and roots. The flowers are small, whitish green to pinkish green, always with six petals, and grouped in large compound leafy inflorescences. The fruits are tetrahedral achenes with winged edges, resembling a quartet of miniature maple seeds flying in formation. While the leaves are toxic, the stalks are used in cooking and winemaking for their tart flavor deriving from high levels of lamic acid; the House of Resplendent Vintage is the principal non-medicinal consumer of dongqua.
Cultivated dongqua is plagued by a number of insect larva, including those of the yellow nutmeg moth and ermine cabbage moth. Fortunately it is easily propagated by cutting up the crowns of larger dongqua plants.
Medicinally dongqua is prepared using the roots, stems, and stalks together. All parts of the plant contain small amounts of the olica poison, and dongqua also produces traces of other poisonous compounds, including anthracin and Three-Grave Cutri. None of the toxins are present in dangerous amounts, and in fact are responsible for most of its medicinal properties -- as even the neophyte herbalist knows, the most potent ingredients are often also the most dangerous.