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Ginseng: How to Recognize and Safely Transplant It

Updated on May 30, 2014

Ginseng Root

This is a picture of Ginseng root.
This is a picture of Ginseng root.

What is Ginseng

Ginseng root has long been used medicinally in various areas of the world beginning in China, Russia and a few other countries. Until the late 1800s, this valuable root had never been grown in the United States. The many benefits of Ginseng include but are not limited to higher energy levels, lower stress levels and heightened immunity. The main element benefiting anyone taking Ginseng is ginsenosides which is a key element contained in Ginseng aiding in its unique medicinal properties.

What Ginseng Looks Like

This is a picture of what to look for when seeking out Ginseng. Leaves are oval shaped with jagged edges.
This is a picture of what to look for when seeking out Ginseng. Leaves are oval shaped with jagged edges.

How to Find Ginseng

Ginseng can be found in shady areas, usually beneath hardwood trees. Some of the best areas to locate ginseng include well developed forest areas and land with high numbers of trees. The more shade and the more developed the area of forest, the higher your probability for locating this herb. If you plan to dig up and relocate the plant, be very careful with the roots. Should any part of the root be damaged, the plant may not be viable. Whenever possible, leave the wild ginseng at the location you found it at until it reaches full maturity. Remember that when searching for ginseng keep in mind that digging it up may require permits. Call your local extension agent if you are unsure whether or not your area has ginseng or if a permit is needed.

How Mature Should It Be Before Harvesting?

Wild ginseng takes seven years to become fully mature. If you plan to cultivate the roots, this is the length of time that wild ginseng will need to mature before harvesting. For cultivated versions of ginseng grown in artificial conditions, one can generally expect to wait anywhere from 3-5 years for it to reach its full maturity. For this reason, many may shy away from growing ginseng. In order to see if a plant you have located or grown is mature or not, the rings around the base of the plant should be counted. The higher the number of rings, the older the plant. The rings will appear to be grooved all the way around the stalk of the plant and can be easily counted. In young plants, these rings may be absent. Collecting roots prior to maturity kills the plant and may render it useless.

A Great Resource for Finding, Growing and Using Ginseng

Learning More About Ginseng Can Ensure Success in Locating and Transplanting

Learning more about ginseng is important before hunting, cultivating or growing ginseng. I have found that in any plant-related endeavor it is best to use several different resources. I generally keep several books on hand. Should you wish to learn more both books I have listed one that I have found helpful.

Video on How to Identify Ginseng (and Goldenseal)


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