P. quinquefolius (American ginseng)
An ancient and persistent belief in the health-giving and aphrodisiac powers of ginseng root has led to excessive harvesting of the wild plant until it is now threatened with extinction. It once grew abundantly in cool, shady, hardwood forests from Quebec to Manitoba, southward through mountainous areas to Louisiana and Georgia, and westward to Missouri. The treasured aromatic root resembles a small parsnip that forks as it matures. The plant grows 6 to 18 inches tall, usually bearing three leaves, each with three to five leaflets 2 to 5 inches long. A 1-inch cluster of six to 20 light green flowers blooms in early summer. Even more eye-catching than the pale flower is the fruit, a bright red autumn berry about 1/2 inch in diameter.
HOW TO GROW. American ginseng thrives in a Deciduous Woodland environment. It needs a moist, well-drained, slightly acid, humus-rich soil with a pH of 4.5 to 6.0. Because the plants are scarce in the wild and seeds are slow to germinate (about 18 months), start with nursery plants one to two years old. In late fall or early spring, set plants 5 to 8 inches apart with eyes of rootstocks 2 to 3 inches deep and facing up; avoid bending the roots. Put a permanent 4-inch mulch of hardwood leaves over the roots.
Panax quinquefolium . . GINSENG - 12 to 24 in. . . Mod. to full shade . . Rich, moist soil . . Native . . Dark green compound leaves. Small white flowers in late spring followed by a central cluster of red berries in fall. An attractive plant and a good conversation piece. . . Thus well-known herb has been collected to extreme rarity in many areas. The dried roots will fetch from $30 to almost $300 a pound, depending on quality and method of culture. The plants offered are nursery propagated, in their 3rd year (2 and 3 prong).
Revered by the Chinese and popular among Americans, Ginseng has been used in herbal medicine for many centuries. .
.. Zones 3 to 8
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