American Ginseng

(Panax quinquefolius)

Other Names:
Also known by its Chinese name, Huaqishen


Araliaceae - The Ivy Family

Growth Type:
Perennial herbaceous plant

It grows to a height of 1 - 2 feet tall.

The palmate leaves circle a straight stem and bear five long, oval leaflets, approximately five inches long. The two lateral leaflets appear smaller than the three terminal leaflets. Each leaflet is finely toothed and sharply pointed at the end. The age of the plant is determined by the number of stems. Each year, a new stem grows from the rhizome. A mature plant is easily identified by the fact that it has 4 stems each of five leaflets.

Straight unbranched stem

A thick fleshy rhizome sometimes splitting into numerous lobes

Flower Season:

Flower Appearance:
Small clustered greenish yellow flowers grow on a single flower stalk

In late summer A red droop styled fruit will appear.

Miscellaneous characteristics:
All members of the Panax genus appear to function in the same manner. As a matter of fact, Chinese Ginseng is sold mainly in the US, while American Ginseng is exported for use in China, as it is thought to be more potent. To me this seems to be an instance of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence.

Under the canopy of deciduous forests. It prefers full to slightly dappled shade. You can find it in loamy, deep, moist not wet, well-drained soil. Look for it on slopes.

Parts Used:

Wild Food Uses:
The root can be sliced thin and sautéed and eaten with other vegetables in a stir fry, or it can be steeped in water for a wonderful tea. It can also be sliced lengthwise, steamed and eaten as one would asparagus. Eating Ginseng is a marvelous way to achieve its healthful properties.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:
The Panax genus has been used for thousands of years to improve the body's ability to adapt to stress of any sort, including infection, mental stress, or fatigue. It has also been used to restore the proper function of the body, to fight inflammation, to lower cholesterol, to sooth inflamed or irritated tissue, and as a muscle relaxant. I can personally attest to American Ginseng's ability to improve endurance, energy, and stamina. It has also been said to help support the function of the heart and the liver. Ginseng has a tendency to act upon the respiratory system and is therefore useful for the treatment of asthma. Perhaps the most well known function of Ginseng is to increase sexual potency or excitement. Clinical studies have shown that it functions very well as a sexual tonic for both men and women. Ginseng improves the blood flow throughout the body. This means that is also increases blood flow to the sexual organs, resulting in increased tumescence in men, and increased engorgement of the clitoris and vulva in women.

Medicinal Actions:
Adaptogen, Alterative, Anti-Inflammatory, Antineoplastic, Antispasmodic, Aphrodisiac, Demulcent, Tonic

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