Riley, Susan Bull - Wild American Ginseng and Wood Thrush
The unassuming herb wild American ginseng, hidden in cool woodlands. American ginseng & wood thrush in watercolor by Susan Bull Riley

The Mission of WildAmericanGinseng.org

This website is designed to provide state-of-the-art scientific information to the public, researchers and to policymakers for the purpose of conserving American ginseng for the long-term. As a species with economic, cultural, ecological, and medicinal value, everyone should have the best interests of ginseng conservation in mind. However, in a rapidly changing world, both direct and indirect effects of our species on valuable native plants such as ginseng often threaten their persistence.  By raising awareness of and emphasizing that ginseng is just one of thousands of special plants impacted by human actions, we provide the scientific basis to motivate land owners, land managers, policy makers, harvesters, and consumers to become better stewards of our precious natural resources.

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Wild American ginseng in the spring. batcavebotanicals, 2014

What is American Ginseng?

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) is an understory plant found in the eastern deciduous forest of North America. Ginseng roots have long been valued for their medicinal qualities, particularly by Asian cultures, which have integrated American ginseng into their traditional medicinal practices as a complement to their native Asian ginseng species. In this way, ginseng shares a part of early American history, being exported to Asia since the early 1700's.

 

Ginseng root harvest continues today as a tradition across much of the eastern deciduous forest but especially in Appalachia, where the sale of ginseng still supplements household incomes and links people to the land. Ecologists began studying ginseng because of its value as a wild-harvested species and its decrease in abundance after many decades of harvest.

 

After many years of ongoing research, ginseng has become an important model species – a sensitive indicator of the effects of contemporary global and regional environmental change for plants in the eastern deciduous forest.