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quefolius L. [Araliaceae]) is native to the eastern half of North America from Georgia to Quebecand west to the Mississippi River fromAlabama to Minnesota and westernIowa. It is an obligate shade plant thatinhabits the understory of hardwoodforests with well-drained, porous, andhumus-rich soils and is commonly foundon upland north- and east-facing slopes.
It is also found in coniferous forestsand/or on south-facing slopes in soilscomposed mostly of sand and clay. Shadeand loamy soils are requirements forthriving wild populations.
family (Araliaceae), which includes 6species of herbaceous perennials foundin North America and Asia. All specieshave thick roots and palmately com-pound leaves borne in whorls. Thesmall, white flowers are borne in termi-nal umbels bearing a fleshy drupe con-taining 2 to 3 seeds after maturation.
Greek word “pan-axos” meaning “all-heal- ing.” The common name “ginseng”comes from 2 Chinese words meaning“likeness of man,” referring to the mature root that resembles a human figure. Twospecies are native to North America: American ginseng and the uncommondwarf ginseng (P. trifolius L.).
About 4600 y ago, Huang Ti, the firstruler of China, described the medicinalproperties of Asian ginseng (P. ginsengC.A. Meyer) in Nei Ching Su Wen, the A B S T R A C T
first written text of internal Chinesemedicine. Ginseng is used for stimula- Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises in Wausau, Wisconsin, provide properly stratified seeds to other commercial growers and roots to the herbal market 4 y after initial field-grown plantings. Woods-grown ginseng requires up to 8 y for production. Seeds of northern sources exhibit deep simple morphophysiological dormancy and must be carefully ginsenocides are found in all species and handled during harvest and immediately stratified for up to 18 mo. Successful germi- are responsible for the medicinal effects.
nation, establishment, growth, and production require adequate shade, leaf litter, nutrition, and disease and pest prevention. Over 75% of all American ginseng pro- duction in the US occurs in Wisconsin. Currently, Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises include 405 ha (1000 ac) of land in production as cultivated fields and “woods-grown” KEY WORDS: American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius, seed propagation, seed produc-
NOMENCLATURE: (fungi) Farr and others (1989); (species of Panax) Wen and
Zimmer (1996); (North American plants) ITIS (2001) N AT I V E P L A N T S J O U R N A L
Jesuit missionary in 1716 nearMontreal, Quebec, and was laterdescribed from collections from NewEngland in 1750. By the late 1700s,American ginseng was exported toChina by the American Fur TradingCompany. Ginseng roots and furs werethe first American exports by colonists(NYSDEC 2001). Heavy collectionfrom wild populations continued untilthe late 1800s. By the turn of the 20thcentury, American ginseng farmingbecame quite common throughout east-ern North America as wild populations became increasingly rare due to over-harvesting. As a result, American gin-seng is a native North American plantintensively farmed as a horticulturalcrop. Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises includecultivation on large farms and under Figure 1 • Field-grown American ginseng plants emerging in spring in mulch-amended
source of organic matter to the soil, acts also placed over the top of the stratifica- required to break 1 type of physiological are sold to other commercial growers.
tures during late summer and autumn.
Figure 2 • Computer models use weather data to predict
and are immediately stratified. Seeds are when fungicide applications are necessary. V O L U M E 3 • N U M B E R 2
with stratified seeds by a mechanicalseeder at the same rate and desired den-sity as with field production in Augustof the 3 y. Seeds are mulched with oatstraw after sowing. Woods-grownAmerican ginseng roots are producedfor high quality and character and take8 y from initial sowing to harvest. Cultivated American ginseng has beenexported to foreign markets for over100 y. It is one of the most well-knownherbal medicines and is widely con-sumed in Asia, North America, andEurope. Currently, over 75% of allAmerican ginseng production in the USoccurs in Wisconsin. Ginseng can bepropagated in fields or under existing forest canopies if the proper level ofshade, high levels of organic matter, Figure 3 • “Woods-grown” ginseng emerging from raised beds of mulch under an exist-
sufficient plant spacings are provided.
Ginseng plantations provide seeds forother commercial growers and roots for gal diseases. Slugs eat seeds, seedlings, commercially approved molluscicides.
Baskin CC, Baskin JM. 1998. Seeds: ecology, bio- prongs of leaflets. During the third year, geography and evolution of dormancy andgermination. San Diego (CA): Academic Press.
Farr DF, Bills GF, Chamuris GP, Rossman AY. 1989.
Fungi on plants and plant products in theUnited States. St Paul (MN): The American (Fusarium Link:Fr. and Rhizoctonia DC.
Phytopathological Society Press. 1252 p.
spp.) and root rot (Phytophora cactorum [ITIS] Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
herbal market during the fourth year.
(Lebert & Cohn) J. Schrot.), which are 2001. Biological Names. Version 4.0 (On-linedatabase). URL: http:// (Alternaria panax Whetzel) is controlled Environmental Conservation. 2001. Ginsengand goldenseal in your forest. URL: privland/forprot/ginseng/growing_guide.html Woods-Grown Ginseng
Wen J, Zimmer EA. 1996. Phylogeny and biogeog- raphy of Panax L. (the ginseng genus, Araliaceae): Inferences from ITS sequences ofnuclear ribosomal DNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 6:167–177.
soils rich in humus from leaf litter.
maple and oak (Acer L. [Aceraceae] and Quercus L. [Fagaceae] species) are select- AUTHOR INFORMATION
dressing usually includes a fertilizer of Paul C Hsu
Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises Inc
PO Box 509
Wausau, WI 54402-0509
composted leaf litter to the soil surface.


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