How Far Removed – Predator and Prey

Out here we have a healthy balance between predator and prey. Squirrels crowd the treetops, mice are at home in sheds and even in our house if we aren’t diligent. Snakes lurk everywhere.

snake eating squirrel

Predator and Prey

Coyotes are plentiful. The dogs break into a discordant chorus when they hear their wild cousins yapping on the outskirts of the “safe” zone the dogs have established. Last year a wiley bobcat ate more than his fair share of our chickens in spite of Badger’s diligent guard. And we eat a fair share of the game that abounds in our hills.

For the time being, we have a balance, a harmony. While we do enforce a boundary around the small space we’ve carved out to call our own, we don’t seek out to kill animals like snakes, coyotes and bobcats, as many people I know do, because we acknowledge that these mountains are just as much theirs as this safe zone around the house is ours. When I ramble around on the mountain, usually camera in hand and down on all fours (or even belly) to get close to the plants, I’m in the wildlife’s home and I’m respectful of that. It doesn’t mean I’ll submit to becoming prey, but it does mean I won’t kill just because our paths cross. I’ve never encountered a situation that required more of me than patience.

The following is from my old blog. This post was originally posted on July, 2010:

Youngest is outside right now, whittling on the mechanism of his newly cut frog gig. It’s made from a 6′ sapling section, about 2″ diameter. He needed to cut it a few feet longer, but this is his first effort and I’m not about to discourage him now. When he gets to putting it through trials, he’ll find out if his barbs were sturdy enough or the shaft long enough and make adjustments accordingly on his next attempt.

At first thought, to many, what he is doing sounds barbaric and cruel.

How far removed we, as a society, have become from our origins as nomads and hunter/gatherers. Nowadays, most of us never think twice about the food we put into our mouths, not to consider whether it was once a living thing nor about the idea that it died so that we might eat.

We live each day in a world of predator and prey relationships, and yet rarely notice. The project my son has embarked upon is unabashedly ‘predator’ in nature. And I guess what gives me that sense of satisfaction I am feeling, is that he knows it.

The same kid holds a kitten with a tender smile on his face and cheers for chicks hatching from eggs in the incubator.

No Qualms, my latest short story available at Amazon and at our online shop, is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my novel that I’m currently trying to find an agent for, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (these are slowly being transferred from the old blog) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live.


♥ If any of you read No Qualms, please leave a review. You’ll have my deep appreciation for it! ♥

 



The Ent Trees of Wild Ozark

This article had been posted over at Medium but I decided to move it back home where it belongs.

Special Trees

Two special trees grace the dirt road where I live. There are more trees like this here and there on our own acreage, tree-beings, or trees that appear and do more than trees appear to normally do.

Of course, the knowing that these trees “do” anything other than normal tree “being” is what puts me into that category sometimes referred to by others as … well, crazy.

This relationship I have with the land and inhabitants is part of my purpose in being. I can’t explain it to someone who doesn’t “get” it, but it’s the way I connect to the Divine. Some get that from churches and religions. I get it from Nature.

But that only explains what I get from the relationship. True relationships are a give and a take, and not always balanced. In my opinion, what I get from it is more than I give. I give respect, consideration, and a voice.

I started not to post more than just these pictures because I worry sometimes about what other people think of me. But that would be cheating on the “voice” part of what I give in this relationship. I’m trying to not care so much whether anyone thinks I’m crazy or not. It is what it is.

Anyway, now that the excuses have been made and you know what comes next might sound as if I’ve lost my mind, I want to talk about Ent Trees.

Ent Trees

According to Wikipedia, Tolkien took the Anglo-Saxon phrases orþanc enta geweorc = “work of cunning giants” and eald enta geweorc = “old work of giants” and applied it to describing the trees in his story, settling on the word “ent”. It’s a fitting word for them.

Others who notice these sorts of things might call these particular trees “plant devas” or have other phrases to describe them. Or maybe most people don’t notice them at all. I suppose it’s one of my own peculiarities to notice such things, but I think anyone who lets their imaginations free can see at least these two tree-beings.

Those with mouths, sing

singing ent tree

She makes me smile every time I pass her on the road. Today I stopped the car and got out to to see if I could hear what song the singing tree sang. The words aren’t a language I can translate into words. My very being vibrates with the resonance. I feel more than hear the notes, and the center where it is felt is in my heart. Her music may fall on deaf ears for the most part when it comes to humans passing on the road below, but I hear her loud and clear.

This tree isn’t singing for me. She sings because her tree-heart inspires her to do so. It’s her purpose, at least one of them, and I am simply one who hears, understands, and appreciates what she does. Who knows her importance within the tree community?

One thing I do know is this. Trees are among the greatest messengers on earth. Wherever trees exist, a message can be delivered from tree to tree. And where trees are sparse, the wind normally blows and the message can be handed over to the wind. Trees interact with other sorts of carriers — birds and insects work above ground, and below, the practically invisible world of fungi network from tree to tree across the land. Even the very water rinsing over leaves and limbs can carry messages as it settles into the ground and penetrates the earth to move back into the cycle of regeneration. Perhaps the trees that sing are also distributing messages to the Universe.

Those with ears, listen

Among the trees, there are singers, like the one I showed you in the photo above. There are also listeners. This one listens to everything that transpires in his forest. Surely he also hears the song which emanates from the singing tree up the road. Perhaps those with ears are listening to messages from the Universe.

listening ent tree

 

Calling all Ents

Have you seen any ent trees? If you have photos, share them with me by posting them at your blog and leaving me a comment with your links. I’d love to see them.



Where do Writers get Ideas? My Ideas Come from the Gaps

Where do Writers get Ideas?

People often ask me where I get ideas for my stories. I’d never really paid attention to it much, because I’ve always had a fairly active imagination and it comes naturally to think of the things I write. Where do writers get ideas?

But I did notice something the other day, and it stuck out as an ‘ah-ha’ moment. *That* is how ideas come to me, and that’s where they come from.

I don’t get ‘whole’ ideas (for whole stories) from single inspirations. I get snippets. The snippets together make the framework for my story.

To give you an idea of how ideas work for me, think of how a CD player fills in over minor scratches so that you don’t hear a skip when it’s playing. It just sounds like the music is playing normally, and the better the player, the better it is at filling in the tiny little gaps that are caused by scratches.

What exactly was it that I noticed that *ah-ha* day? as it whizzed through and skimmed across the top of the fence into the pasture beyond.

autumn leaves 2 autumn leaves 1 autumn leaves 3

Or the blast of leaves could have been made by a beast smashing leaves out of his way, something giant and from another dimension, lost and bumbling through the trees, stepping over fences as he crashed out onto the road from the undergrowth…

My ideas come from the gaps.

***

If you write, where do your ideas come from? If you’re not a writer but a reader, where did you think our ideas came from?



Winter is Here in the Ozarks

First it was the frost flowers. They showed up last week during our first really cold spell.

 frost flower frost flower

Then yesterday as we were on our way home from grocery shopping the first sleet began. Soon after the plinking sounds of tiny ice balls on the windshield gave way to the silent brush of snowflakes.

Winter is Here

snow in the ozarks

 

 



Welcome to the all-new Wild Ozark™ website!

logo

Today’s my birthday and it’s the coldest one I can ever remember having! Temps have barely gotten above freezing today and snow clouds are building overhead.

I’ve been working hard since I got up this morning to bring this new site online before the end of the day. It might not happen today though, because it’s already a quarter until seven and I’m still not ready yet. And besides, I think this might affect my blog subscribers and I need to give at least a little warning before I throw everyone overboard like that. Hopefully, subscribers will just be reassigned to the new one since it’s going to occupy the same space the old one did (when it’s migrated), but I’m not sure. Right now I’m building it in a separate folder on a separate installation of WordPress, so there’s no telling what’ll happen when I pull the plug on the old one. Yes, that makes me a tad nervous.

Why go through all this trouble?

Well, my old site is … old. I have more than a thousand posts to that blog and when I first started I was new at blogging and didn’t know a thing about SEO. Apparently Google takes offense at repetition of post titles and topics, and they take serious offense at what they consider to be “poor content”.

I take exception to the idea that my content was poor, but since this site is crucial to our business I have to consider the impact of old convoluted blogs to the bottom line. I’ve been blogging since at least 2003, possibly earlier. When I first came to WordPress I already had a Blogger blog several years old. And so I imported it. And then later I went online with the WildOzark.com domain and moved the blog over to the self-hosted version of WordPress and imported again.

Until September my search engine ranking was great and I had a healthy stream of traffic in spite of the jumble of topics, categories and tags. And then the latest update with Google’s inner workings happened and the bottom fell out. As I set about repairing the old site I came to the gradual understanding that it just might not be possible to fix it. Not without a huge amount of work and hair-pulling, anyway.

And so now I’m almost ready to swap the old out for the new and move forward from here. The old posts aren’t going to be deleted from the web entirely, but they won’t be mixed in with this new website. I’ll put a link to the new location in the sidebar later, and as I get time I’ll move some of my favorite posts over here to the new blog.

For those of you who’ve been with me all these years, if you have any old favorites you want me to bring over be sure to let me know. Most of my current traffic comes from search engines, and most of those are folks looking for information about American ginseng. So I really don’t think anyone’s going to miss the old site very much.

My focus has always been on Nature, and that will remain. It’s just going to be a little better organized. The fiction is already in process of being moved to my Fantasy site where I’m learning to do podcasts! I’m enjoying that a lot and plan to add many more.

Once I’m done migrating the website I’ll get back to working on the third chapter of “Into the Ginseng Wood” and when I’m done with that series I have a novel and a flash fiction collection to work on.

So this is the beginning of a brand new year and I’m kicking it off with a brand new site. I hope to see you again in the near future!



Ginseng Root Prices 2014

What are ginseng root prices 2014 ?

Today  (10-04-14) I was informed by a local digger that area buyers have stopped buying altogether or only offering very low ginseng root prices in Kingston, AR. If you have news from your area, please leave a comment. The word from one of our local buyers is that there’s been a flood of roots to the market, likely due to the Appalachian Outlaws show prompting more digging than ever before. The protests in Hong Kong have also played a part.

New UpdateSomeone told me they sold roots to a buyer in Harrison, AR for around $400-500/lb on 10/25.

2.7

As I lurk around the forums I’m collecting unofficial reports on ginseng root prices (2014) this year. If you have information from your neck of the woods to share, please list it in the comment section.

  • prices range from 600.00 to 750.00 Lb dry wild Seng in Ohio (10/11/14)
  • Iowa – fresh ginseng root $220/lb
  • Kentucky – dried ginseng root $700/lb (roots legally procured in Arkansas, at least, should not already be dry…)
  • Arkansas, Harrison – $550/lb on 9/25 – no longer buying at all 10/1 (market bottomed out) 10/25 – buying again $400-500/lb

If you’re a buyer and want to list your contact info in the comments, feel free to do that as well.

Notice: since building this new website, I’ve lost the comments on the old post by this title. Please re-list your information if you find your way to this page and don’t see it below. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Wild Ozark™ has books with lots of ginseng photos. Info on the books and more links to ginseng info on this page.

I’ve moved the comments from my old blog over to this one and appended them here because I didn’t think they’d carry over when I moved the blog:

22 thoughts on “2014 Ginseng Root Prices”

  1. Ray Carter
    I’m new at hunting ginseng ,Being my first year . I live in eastern Iowa .So my question is 220 a lb. for Iowa ginseng and Kentucky is getting 700 lbs???????

    1. Madison WoodsPost author
      Ray, I think I’d ask around with some other buyers within the state. Here in Arkansas prices started around $500 and they generally go up before end of buying season. Prices vary, too, based on the quality of the root and whether the price is for dry or fresh. Fresh brings about 2/3 lower, I believe.

  2. TNA Wild Ginseng Co
    Hello ALL,We are still buying ginseng from Bethlehem PA.Here is our current prices:
    –Wild Ginseng (dried)…$700 to $900 Per LB…10-40 Years Old …Neck: 1–3 Inches
    (Each pound of ginseng contains about 20-30% of bulby roots. The average length of neck is 2 inches )–Wild Ginseng (dried)…$900 to $1100 Per LB…10-40 Years Old …Neck: 2 inches or longer.
    (the average weight of each ginseng is about 2 grams and each pound of ginseng should contain about 200 roots)–Wild Ginseng (green)…$200 to $350 Per LB…10-40 Years Old…Neck: 1–4 Inches
    (Note: DO NOT wash the green root, once washed they will go bad)Thank you
    TNA Wild Ginseng

    1. Melissa
      wish you were in Ohio cause your prices look good. 600-750.00 here… Maybe I should hold off , but then again prices could drop. It’s a chance we take cause ya never know about these markets. Hope ya have a Great Season

  3. Peter
    Hi,Im in the market to buy some ginseng roots. Please email me what you have. Thanks

    1. Ray Carter
      I have seven lbs. not dry yet,Very large and old roots has never been hunted around these parts. Will be selling local unless find better deal. Must be a legal sell.

  4. bobby key
    looking for dealer that is buying wild ginseng and much you are paying for A pound I live at rockfield it is outside of bowlinggreen ky if are interest on any email me back at bobby42274(at)yahoo(dot)com hope to hear from you i am looking for the best dealthank you

    1. Madison WoodsPost author
      Hey Bobby, there’s a lot of people viewing this site so someone might contact you. But I’m going to edit your email address so it’s not a link – you’ll get a lot of spam if I leave it like it is from automated things that search the web for email addresses.

      Reply
  5. Dave Woodard
    Who is paying $1,100 with 2″ neck? My friends are finding some up to 11 1/2 and 2″ round all the way down!! We have sold 37 lbs in VA. Where can I take it to get more! Your help would be much appreciated!I would love to find better prices for next year. We still have 2 areas to go in this year.Dave

    1. Madison WoodsPost author
      Hi Dave, no one is buying at all in our area of northwest Arkansas. In the comments there were a couple of posters who listed contact information you could check with.

    1. Madison WoodsPost author
      We don’t have any here at Wild Ozark, but you can try contacting some of the ones who left email addresses. To buy/sell across state lines you’ll need a dealer’s license to stay legal.

  6. Connie
    I would like some infort, On becoming a Wild Ginseng Grower. If you or anyone you know can help please e-mail me at touchofclassbyconnie@gmail.com. I would like who to by seeds from, the best sellers in Ga and how long does it take to and is the price going up or down in the next year. If you can help a lady out it would really help out.

    1. Madison WoodsPost author
      Hi Connie,I don’t have information specific to GA, but if you live near any rural towns at the stores there’s usually someone who knows who buys for that area and there might be signs up on the windows. That’s how they do it out here. As for seeds, if no one in your area grows and sells seed, then you might have to go to the region nearest you to buy them. I live in AR but have to buy seeds in MO. It takes 5 years before the plants are legal to dig, but they’re still small then. 7-10 years is better. If you’re wanting to grow wild-simulated, and wanting to do it sustainably, you’ll want to grow your colonies out to at least 100 plants per colony and harvest less than half of the ones producing seeds. Some studies suggest in colonies this size even if all of the seed-producing plants are harvested, as long as all of the seeds from those plants are replanted, your ginseng will continue to thrive year after year. I prefer to take half or less and allow a colony of mixed ages to carry on. There’s a lot of different opinions on the best way to do this and as time goes by you’ll probably find a comfortable solution.As for prices, there’s no telling. China buys most of the wild and wild-simulated and how much they’re willing to pay is what determines the prices growers are given by buyers. This year several factors played into really low prices. Too many roots in the market, instability in Hong Kong, and some buyers even quit buying altogether.I have books at Amazon with lots of photos of ginseng and companion plants if you’re unsure of where to plant your seeds, and Sustainable Ginseng gives references to studies about the ideal colony sizes for sustainability.Good luck on your venture!

 



Monster Ginseng Roots from Arkansas 2014

Monster Ginseng Roots

These monster ginseng roots from Arkansas were submitted by a digger in the Ozarks. He assured me he’d planted all the berries in the same location and only took a portion of mature plants. They broke the tops from the rest to keep them from being harvested in another sweep by other diggers.

2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 arkansas 1 arkansas 2 arkansas 3 arkansas 4 arkansas 5 neck



Can’t Find Ginseng?

ginseng with red berries

“I can’t find ginseng!”

If you’ve been getting frustrated because you ccan’tfind ginseng, this post is for you.

First of all, remember, it’s only legal to dig ginseng in Arkansas from September 1 – December 1. You’ll have to check the rules for your state if you live elsewhere.

There are a few good reasons why you can’t find ginseng when you hunt it. These are the most likely reasons:

  • It doesn’t grow where you are looking
  • It’s already been dug
  • The older roots have already been dug and the tops of younger ones broken off
  • Your eyes are just not seeing it

It doesn’t grow where you are looking

Ginseng only grows in certain areas of the United States. Here’s a map that shows the natural distribution for American Ginseng: http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=PAQU&mapType=nativity. Within the states highlighted on the map, it only grows in the areas that provide the proper habitat. Some of the listed states have a very limited amount of suitable habitat.

For example, although Louisiana is one of the listed states, the area in that state that supports the habitat ginseng requires is extremely small. If your state isn’t listed in that map, then it’s not likely that it grows there at all. You can’t find ginseng if it ddoesn’tgrow there in the first place.

Although there are many suitable places in Arkansas, not all of the state, nor even whole counties, has the right habitat. Even on our own property, located in a county with plentiful habitat, of all the acres we own only a small portion of it is suitable. If you can’t find ginseng, the first thing to check is if you’re looking in the right places.

It’s already been dug

Areas that were once perfect have no ginseng left because too many diggers took too many plants without replacing seeds. And tthey’veoften taken plants out of season when seeds weren’t even ripe. So even in a spot that shows all the signs of having good habitat, it’s likely you can’t find ginseng because there’s no ginseng left there to find.

The older roots have already been dug and the tops of younger ones broken off

Many seasoned diggers, the ones who come back to a spot year after year, break off the tops of remaining plants when they’re done taking what they want. They do this so anyone who comes after them to that spot won’t see any ginseng to take. While this isn’t ideal for the plant’s health, it sure beats being dug. Usually the diggers who do this want to ensure the patch continues to survive to provide roots for the future. If you can’t find ginseng and all other conditions are right, it might be because someone ddoesn’twant you to find it.

Your eyes are just not seeing it

I have covered this issue in an earlier post when I mentioned how hard the plant is to see. Usually it’s only the first plant that’s hard to find. Once yyou’vefound one, it seems to train your eyes to see them so finding the next ones are easier. That’s how it works each time I go into the woods to look for them. Find companion plants first. It at least narrows down the search for suitable habitat. If you don’t see any companions, odds are you can’t find ginseng there either.

Companion plants (plants that grow where ginseng grows) will usually be in the right habitat even if the ginseng is not. I have a book with lots of photos of these plants. It’s available here atour store and also through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. The paperback version is only available through our store and Amazon.

In summary, if you know the habitat is right for ginseng and have spotted the companion plants that indicate proper habitat, if you still can’t find ginseng the chances are good that it’s just not there or your eyes aren’t seeing it (because either the stems are gone or it’s hiding right beside you and you just can’t see it).

Do you have a question about ginseng?

If I can’t find the answer, I might be able to find someone else who knows.



Ginseng FAQ

Finding, Growing, Digging and Selling Ginseng

These are the questions most often asked by our readers (ginseng FAQ). If your question isn’t answered here, leave it in the comments and I’ll be glad to at least try to point you in the right direction if I don’t know the answer.

Ginseng FAQ

1. Why can’t I find ginseng?

  • you’re looking in the wrong places
  • it isn’t there
  • someone hid it
  • For a more in depth response to this question, click here.

2. Can I dig in one state and sell in another?

At least in Arkansas, not without a dealer’s license. Here’s a quote from the state board:

1. Any person, business, or corporation who buys wild or artificially propagated
American Ginseng for sale across state lines shall be termed a dealer by intent of Act
774 of 1985, and shall obtain a Ginseng Dealer License and a Certificate of Legal
Taking from the Arkansas State Plant Board.

3. When should you plant ginseng?

In late fall, before the ground begins to freeze. Out here (northwest Arkansas) the ground never freezes solid long, so I’d also plant during winter on days that aren’t too cold.

4. Where do I sell my ginseng?

Check around September on the windows of stores in the small towns of your area. Buyers will often post notices to say when they’ll be coming to town. You can also check the classifieds of your electric coop magazine (if you get those out there). Fur buyers will often buy ginseng or know of ginseng buyers in the area. I’ve seen notices posted in the classified section of our local newspaper before, too.

5. Finding ginseng

You can find ginseng in deep forests on north, west, or east facing slopes. It helps a lot to know the companion plants that grow in the same areas ginseng grows: black cohosh, bloodroot, doll’s eyes, maidenhair fern, Christmas fern, pawpaw, wild ginger (and there are others – see #5 about the trees). These plants are easier to spot than the ginseng itself. If you’re trying to find a suitable site for growing your own, it’s good to plant in places these plants grow if the site has sufficient shade.

6. Ginseng seed

To buy seed, I suggest you get it from as local a source as possible. We get ours from Ozark Mountain Ginseng in Thayer, MO. We’re not in the same state, but we are both located in the Ozarks, at least. Seeds and plants produced locally are adapted to your local conditions and will more easily thrive.

Ginseng produces a berry in summer. In the berry there are two seeds. When the berry falls to the ground it takes a full year of sitting there before it sprouts the second spring after falling. When you buy seeds they’ll be stratified (usually). This means the seed has already waited the first year (usually outside buried in a bed or bucket of sand) and will be ready to sprout the spring after you plant it.


We have several books with lots of photos of ginseng and ginseng habitat.


7. Ginseng companion trees

The trees that ginseng grows best under around here is a mix of the following: oak, hickory, maple, pawpaw, dogwood, redbud, beech and poplar.

8. What happens when ginseng gets too much sunlight?

Too much sun will bleach out the leaves making them turn whitish. Eventually the plant will die in these conditions but if the problem is confined to a small area, you can put up some shade cloth until the tree canopy closes in. If this is a problem in a large area, then the site is probably not suitable for ginseng to begin with.

 

9. How to tell the difference between poison oak/ivy/Virginia creeper and ginseng?

To the uninitiated, ginseng looks a lot like a few other plants. It’s most often confused with poison oak/ivy during first year growth because at that time ginseng only has 3 leaves. To tell the difference between ginseng and Virginia creeper, look at the leaves. Ginseng always has 2 tiny leaves and 3 larger ones (after the first year). All of Virginia creeper’s leaves are the same size.

In my book Sustainable Ginseng I have an id key for these two in a side-by-side comparison. I also have an article about the most common look alikes with an id key to this and other plants often confused with ginseng.

10. When does ginseng come up in spring?

It comes up here in northwest Arkansas in mid-April. Sometimes a plant skips a year and will remain dormant until the following spring.

11. Does drought kill ginseng?

If the summers are too dry, even if it’s growing in deep shade, sometimes ginseng will die back and go dormant until the following year when conditions improve.

12. Does ginseng still grow wild?

Yes, although many diggers have carried seeds in their pockets and planted while digging, so it’s impossible to know which is true wild and which is virtually wild. This is most likely the case everywhere ginseng is native.



So How does Ginseng Taste?

photo of box of ginseng

This is the little box where we keep our dried ginseng root.

a piece of dried ginseng root

The dried ginseng root, ready to chew.

 Ginseng

Most of the searches that bring people to this site are about how to find ginseng. Not so many seem to wonder about how to use the ginseng itself. I think most are only interested in exploiting the root for profit. We don’t dig our roots here to sell because we don’t have enough of it yet. When the population reaches a sustainable level (at least 100 plants of mixed ages per colony) we’ll harvest roots, but that’s going to be years down the road from now. Right now the focus is on habitat restoration.

In our Wild Ozark™ Nursery, though, we do plant extra seeds so I can sell rootlets and potted ginseng plants to others who want to grow it. It makes a pretty potted plant or specimen feature in shade gardens. We also offer companions to make the habitat complete.

The Ozark’s own best-selling author, photographer, consultant, and herbalist Steven Foster posted at his herbal blog about the issues he sees with the television show “Appalachian Outlaws”. My hope is that some of the people who come here searching for information because they’ve watched that show will become interested in the plant and shift their focus from the potential money in digging to a concern and desire to help it survive. I wrote a short book called “Sustainable Ginseng” with information on how land-owners can grow it in a way that’s indistinguishable from true wild. Grown this way it can be used for personal remedies as I describe below, or sold just like wild – all without adding extra stress to the survival of the plants still holding their own in our hills.

For the most part, I just study the ginseng and grow it. I get a lot of enjoyment from finding new plants, growing new colonies, and just observing grandmother plants with her babies throughout the growing season. But every so often we do dig a few for our own personal use and I thought I’d talk a little today about how I use it. Dr. Laurell Matthews wrote about the virtues of ginseng root on her Natural Health blog the other day. The last time we dug any of our own was a few years ago. I keep the roots in a paper bag along with the other herbs I’ve harvested for household use.

herbs in paper bagsWhen I take out a ginseng root I put it in the little ox-bone box pictured at the top of this post and keep it in the kitchen. My husband got that little box for me when he was in Iraq or Afghanistan and I think it makes a fitting resting place for a single root of a plant I hold in high regard. That same root has been in the box for several months because I don’t use it every day. If I’m working on a project that requires more concentration and focus than I’m ordinarily prone to, I’ll keep a little piece of the root in my mouth all day. I take it out and set it on the side of my plate if I eat or put it down somewhere if I’m having a cup of coffee, but I keep the same piece in use all day. It’s sort of like keeping the same piece of chewing gum, I guess, but I don’t actually “chew” the root. Every once in a while I’ll bite down on it to squeeze the juice out of it. Yes, I know that sounds pretty gross, given that the juice is made from my saliva, ha. But the saliva is also extracting the goodness of ginseng while it sits on standby in my mouth.

If I think I have a cold or other illness coming on, I’ll use it the same way. Ginseng is an adaptogen and will try to help the body overcome stresses of any sort. This is also what I’ll do with it if we’re doing some sort of work that is physical and I want to maintain stamina throughout the day (like when we’re working on a fence project).

Ginseng Taste

So how does ginseng taste? The first flavor is bitterness, but it’s not too intense of a bitterness. A bit of that bitterness lingers the whole time, too. Then there’s also an earthy sweetness, similar but not the same as carrot – a not so sweet carrot.

If you’re interested in growing your own virtually-wild ginseng and need some help figuring out where to plant, take a look at our books. By learning the ginseng companion plants, it’ll help you find the best places to plant. You’ll also find a lot of links to more information about ginseng on that page.