American gingseng

2024 CENorth America

"American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) has a rich history in North America. Native Americans used the roots medicinally for years, and European colonists quickly revered the roots as well. American ginseng was one of the earliest American exports to China . . . Even today, American ginseng is prized for its medicinal qualities and is still harvested and sold internationally. In the early days of the American ginseng trade, ginseng was abundant throughout much of the deciduous forests in the eastern United States. Unfortunately, it has dramatically declined throughout much of its range . . . Habitat loss through logging, agriculture, mountaintop mining and development has rendered many areas unsuitable for American ginseng. In addition, overharvest and poor harvest practices (harvesting non-reproductive plants or those without ripe fruits) has led to a sharp decline in existing populations. Furthermore, studies have found that browsing by white-tailed deer can have significant population impacts as deer often browse large, reproductive plants before they can produce seeds. Since American ginseng is slow-growing and produces few seeds, the loss of one reproductive plant before it has a chance to produce seeds can have large impacts on small populations of ginseng."

"Long Live American Ginseng!," U.S. Forest Service.

Image: "Tom Potterfield via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic"