American Ginseng

American Ginseng
Panax quinquefolium L. ARALIACEAE

This has the same general properties as Panax pseudoginseng, its Oriental relative, and from 1718, when first exported to China by Canadian Jesuits, until the end of the nineteenth century it was so heavily collected that it is now practically unknown in its natural wild habitat. Most supplies are today cultivated in Wisconsin and exported to the East; some probably return to the United States and Europe fraudulently described as the more expensive Chinese or Korea root. There is little evidence that any North American Indian tribes beside the Chippewas or Ojibwas used the herb to the same extent as the Chinese.

  • Description: Perennial 12.5- 45 cm tall on aromatic, occasionally bifurcated, spindle-shaped root-stock, bearing thin scales at stem base which are shred during growth. Stem simple, erect, unbranched and reddish, bearing a whorl of 3 or 5 palmate leaves; the leaflets obovate, thin, coarsely serrate, abruptly acuminate, 8- 13 cm long. Flowers pink, small, few in a single terminal, peduncled umbel; appearing late summer and followed by a cluster of red drupe-like berries on elongated peduncle.
  • Distribution: North American native from Quebec to Minnesota. Exclusively in cool, humas-rich woodlands.
  • Cultivation: Formally wild. Now extremely rare. Cultivated commercially in the same way as the Panax pseudoginseng.
  • Constituents: Similar to Panax pseudoginseng Wallich.
  • Uses (dried root): Tonic; adaptogenic. Similar to Panax pseudoginseng Wallich.

-p. 233, The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism edited by Malcom Stuart (1979)

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American Ginseng