The scientific name of Dwarf Ginseng is Panax trifolius. Dwarf Ginseng is a perennial (a plant that can live for more than two years) that can grow up to twenty centimeters or eight inches in height. It is also know as a ground nut.
The Dwarf Ginseng plant grows in rich “old”, woodsy soils that have been untouched by fire or developement for a long period of time. They thrive on the natural nutrients that have developed in this type of soil over several years or even decades. They are found in the eastern sections of North America from Quebec to Georgia and west to Minnesota and in parts of Tennessee.
The flowers of the Dwarf Ginseng are white and fade to a soft pink. They are very small delicate flowers that grow in five regular parts or sections. They bloom in the spring to late spring months from April to June. They grow in a pattern that is called a round shaped umbel (a flower cluster with all the flower stalks coming from one central point.)
The Dwarf Ginseng plant does not have stalked leaflets. The leaves themselves are divided into three leaflets. These basal leaflets may be loved or subdivided. The basal leaflets are the ones located near the base of the plant stem. The leaves have serrated edges.
The fruit of the Dwarf Ginseng are a yellowish color. The Dwarf Ginseng comes from a bulb.
In the past the native Americans used the whole plant to make a tea that was used for curing numerous illnesses such as colic, gout, indigestion, hepatitis, rheumatism, hives, tuberculosis; and the root can be chewed to prevent headaches, nervous conditions, breathing problems and fainting spells. The tuber itself can be eaten boiled or raw.
Ginseng has long been sought after for its medicinal herb and aphrodisiac properties. It can sell in a range of two to four hundred dollars an ounce for the dried root. It takes a lot of hunting and digging to get that much ginseng. While wild ginseng has been collected for hundreds of years, cultivating it has not been met with great success in most areas. Ginseng requires such a specific growing site that is is time consuming and hard to maintain. It can be done but it is more work than some people think it is worth. Ginseng has been listed as being an endangered species in thirty-one American states because of over harvesting. While in the past it was sometimes hunted by rural farmers as a means of financial survival it is mostly hunted today by hunters looking to subsidize their hobby.