Wild Ginseng

topic posted Thu, August 5, 2004 - 11:04 PM by  Pilsbury
On a resent trip up to N. California ( 4000+ feet ev. )for a camp out, I went out for a hike and came across a plant whose leaves reminded of Ginseng. I took out my knife and carefully removed the first few layers of what was of a woody substrate at the base of a large pine, I could soon see that there was a root structure going downward into the soil. I thought " oh joy ! " I carefully mined around the root some 12 + inches down. The root had the classic arm and leg structure of the white Ginseng found in America. I've been trying to find more info on California Ginseng but there doesn't seem to be much info out there. I kinda get the impression that this herb is extremly rare to find here in California. When I first ate a root I started with small bits because at the time I wasn't a 100% sure of my identification. It has a taste kinda like a medicinal carrot. After about 15 min or chewing and eating a semi large root, I felt a distinctive " rush " and soon my fatigue of many hours hiking was gone, soon I found myself in a hunt for what seemed like a bonanza of Ginseng roots all over the place! I took great care to pick mostly older roots; 5-13 years old. Many had already went to seed so I made of point of harvesting seeds and when I dug up an old one, I'd sprinkle a few seeds over the hole after I filled it in so as to replenish the plant sorce. I was about to collect over a 100 roots during a span of a few days and took pictures of the best specimens. I plan to use some of the older roots for a tincture and making a mead.:<o>:.
posted by:
SF Bay Area
  • Unsu...
    I think they grow in oregon too
    • It grows around here, but haven't found any.

      I have found lots of wild ginger. Its prolific here. But one has to be careful in harvesting it as we also have various species of arnica that can be mistook for ginger in this area as well. The are look-alike plants.

      I tried transplanting ginger in my yard, but it didn't take.

      There are some botonist and herbologist who know where the wild ginsing grows, but it is kept a bigger secret then the where the hucklberry is harvested.
      • I'm going to take some specimens over to the U.C. Berkeley Life Science building and see if anyone there can help with the Id. I do know that Ginseng grows only at high altitudes such as the environs where I found these roots, also there has to be SNOW or the seeds won't set and sprout.:<o>:.
  • Unsu...
    very cool.
    we find ginseng often in our hikes in the mountains of north carolina.
    i'd love to get my hands on your mead recipe!
    • zen
      offline 4
      careful if they're large patches. I've found plenty isolated plants in the woods here in NC, but i know of at least 3 large patches with 'markers' in Pisgah. Harvesting these could lead to jail time...
      • Unsu...
        we've only picked it once and that was just a random lil'one that showed itself while we were blazing around the more northern Pisgah... we mentioned it to one of the park rangers and got a gentle tip that its not advised to pick them.
        haven't seen any in large patches yet though, that could be some great photo opps!

        any trail recommendations zen? i love the wilson creek/linville area. I have yet to hike in the southern Pisgah forest though, i'm thinking it might be nice to check it out when the trees are almost done changing and the bears are heading further south.
        msg me if ya like!

  • This may help if you are local to any of these areas.


    Family: araliaceae
    Range: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Big South Fork N. River & Rec. Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Catoctin Mountain Park, Chattahoochee River, Chickamauga & Chattanooga, China, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, Effigy Mounds National Monument, Everglades National Park, Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Friendship Hill National Historic Site, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Johnstone Flood National Memorial, Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Mammoth Cave National Park, Mongolia, Obed Wild & Scenic River, Saint Croix National Scenic River, Shenandoah National Park, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, U.S.
  • My understanding is that wild ginseng was picked pretty heavily in the 1800s in the US and was pretty much cropped out.

    • i know of some old family patches, the best grow at the 45th parrallel and deep in kentucky but it is possible to happen across forgotten family patches, be careful though
    • zen
      offline 4
      'Sang hunting or just 'sangin' was not only done for a family's medicinal needs, but a way for a southern Appalachian family to make a few extra bucks (or trade items) even into the early 1900s. So, yeah, it became scarce even back then.

      In the mountains here in North Carolina i've seen poachers scrambling around with bags of the stuff and not much that anyone can do (The last 2 people i saw were armed, even in a National Forest).

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