Smoky Mountain Ginseng, miracle plant, facto or fiction?
Ginseng Harvesting. Ginseng; miracle plant? Fact or fiction? There are many uses for this fascinating native plant that grows wild and randomly from forests in Mississippi, across the eastern mountains of the United States to the remote areas of China. Ginseng refers to 11 different varieties of a short, slow-growing plant with fleshy roots. One of the most enduring of the herbal remedies, it is believed by many to restore and enhance well being.
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, L. ) is easily overlooked blending in readily with other plants, such as poison oak. It begins as a single stem in spring and then adds a flush of leaves that are later adorned by lipstick red berries that appear and last just a week in mid-summer. Below ground the root (actually a rhizome) grows at a snail’s pace, adding wrinkles much like a tree adds rings. It is the root, and it’s monetary value, that has lured people for decades to search for the elusive tuber. The location of many “secret” Ginseng spots is often passed from generation to generation, but that could soon be a thing of the past as ginseng is at risk due to over harvesting and loss of habitat.
Famed botanist William Bartram.
The Cherokees speak of the plant as a sentient being….able tomake itself invisible to those unworthy to gather it.-William Bartram, naturalist, Philadelphia, 1781.