I get questions from readers often, and those questions are seasonal too. Right now people are asking “How does ginseng look in fall?”
Many are surprised to learn that it changes colors with the season. Here in the Ozarks, our ginseng can start turning yellow in late September. This year, colors seem to be running a bit later and it’s only just now beginning to turn. Today is Oct. 5.
How Does Ginseng Look in Fall
Most of the time by October the berries have long since fallen. I found one plant today with a berry still clinging.
If the plants aren’t yellow yet, they’re very often bug-eaten and pretty ratty looking.
I find American ginseng to be a beautiful plant all year, but sometimes near the end of her growth cycle she takes on a certain glow. It looks as if this mature 4-prong is basking in her golden year-end, even if she does look a bit worse for the wear:
Here’s the same plant later in October of the same year:
The Companions Change in Appearance, Too
Blue cohosh can’t even be found by this time of year. It’s already died back and withered into the leaf cover.
Doll’s Eyes (White Baneberry), or Actaea pachypoda, has ripe fruits still waiting to drop onto the ground. You can see how the common name was derived, though a doll with those eyes would be pretty freaky looking.
Bloodroot is getting harder to find because many of them have also returned to ground, but here and there a tattered leaf remains to mark the spot:
Here’s goldenseal on the 18th of October:
Rattlesnake fern questions what all the fuss is about. This one is putting on seeds (spores) as if nothing unusual is happening. These and grape ferns never die back, but sometimes a frost will give a bronze cast to the ground-hugging fronds.
Even the Look-Alikes Change Colors
The Virginia creeper mimics ginseng all year long, even in early fall. But in late fall it comes time to show true colors. It turns red sometimes later on, which ginseng never does.
This Ohio Buckeye leaf is stunning in red:
Thanks for stopping by!
I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour through the ginseng woods with me today. This little hike actually took place yesterday but I’m just now getting around to making the post. This morning it’s raining.I ♥ Wild Ozark's blog! #Nature www.wildozark.com Click To Tweet
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks. Visit my Amazon page to see all of my books about ginseng and nature:
To get free copies of my short stories and read excerpts from my novel-in-progress: http://fiction.wildozark.com.
A book full of ginseng and companion plant photos -American Ginseng & Companions! 70+ photos of American ginseng and ginseng companions plants. This book will help you recognize both ginseng and the companion plants.
If you know the other plants that grow in the same habitat, your odds of success in growing and finding ginseng will skyrocket..