Index | Search | Home | Herb Hunters


Panax quinquefolium L.

Figure 54.—Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium)
Other common names.—American ginseng, sang, redberry, fivefingers.

Habitat and range.—Ginseng is found sparingly in the rich, moist soil in hardwood forests from Maine to Minnesota southward to the mountains of northern Georgia and Arkansas. Ginseng has long been cultivated in small areas in the Northern and Central States and on the North Pacific coast. *

Description.—Ginseng is an erect plant growing from 8 to 15 inches high and hearing three leaves at the summit, each leaf consisting of five thin, stalked leaflets. The three upper leaflets are larger than the two lower ones. From 6 to 20 greenish-yellow flowers are produced in a small cluster during July and August, followed later in the season by bright-crimson berries. Ginseng has a thick, fleshy, spindle-shaped root 2 to 3 inches or more in length and about one-half to 1 inch in thickness, often branched. After the second year the root becomes branched or forked, and it is the branched root, especially if it resembles the human form, which finds particular favor with the Chinese, who are the principal consumers of the root.

Part used.—The root, dug in autumn. If collected at any other season of the year the root shrinks more on drying, which injures its appearance and lowers its market value.

*Stockberger, W.W. Ginseng culture. U.S. Dept. Agr. Farmers' Bul. 1184, 15 p. illus. 1921.

Sievers, A.F. 1930. The Herb Hunters Guide. Misc. Publ. No. 77. USDA, Washington DC.
Last update March 19, 1998 by aw