Wild Ginseng in August at Wild Ozark

A few days ago I took a walk out to the deep woods to see how the wild ginseng and habitat companions were doing.

The wild plants are in pretty hard to reach areas and I don’t get out there very often. When we plant seeds, we try to keep enough distance between the wild-simulated and the wild to avoid genetic pollution.


For more information on genetic pollution and diminishing variability in wild ginseng, here’s a couple of references:

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898772/ (this is about Russian ginseng, but the same principles most likely apply to American)
  • http://wildginsengconservation.com/GeneticPollution.html (You’ll have to copy/paste that link – can’t make a live link  because it’s not a secure site, and mine is)

The last time I took a look at this particular habitat area, it was in May, I believe. Ordinarily I can drive the 4-wheeler closer to the departure point. Not so on this trip today.

The trail ahead on my quest to find wild ginseng in august. Definitely not good ginseng habitat right here.
The trail ahead. Definitely not good ginseng habitat right here.

The trail had become overgrown with brambles. My quest to find wild ginseng in August was going to take a little longer than I expected.

I used a machete and hacked away for a while.

Bloody and sore after a few minutes, with still no progress, I called it quits and took off on foot uphill, toward the right. As soon as I got away from the trail, and started heading uphill, the going was a lot easier. No more brambles, at least.

I went out at late afternoon, so the light was already dim in the deep woods. Although I went looking for ginseng, I am always on the watch for other interesting plants.

Here’s one that caught my eye. There were only a few of them, all confined to one small area, much in the same way wild ginseng grows in small confined areas.

The photo isn’t very good because the light was very low right here. And I’m not good enough at using my camera to know how to compensate correctly for that, yet. Nothing I tried yielded a good focus.

Triphora trianthophora orchid, whole above ground plant.
Triphora trianthophora orchid, whole above ground plant.
T trianthophora, a new find for me. It's also called Three Birds Orchid and is endangered in many states but not in the Ozarks, or Arkansas. Still, I only saw a few.
T trianthophora, a new find for me. It’s also called Three Birds Orchid and is endangered in many states but not in the Ozarks, or Arkansas. Still, I only saw a few.

The place where I found the orchids looked like it should have been a good place for ginseng, too, but there were none that I could see.

I did see some ginseng companion plants, though. Here’s Doll’s Eyes:

Actaea pachypoda, also called Doll's Eyes or White Baneberry. This is one of the most reliable ginseng habitat indicators here in the Ozarks.
Actaea pachypoda, also called Doll’s Eyes or White Baneberry. This is one of the most reliable ginseng habitat indicators here in the Ozarks.

There was also maidenhair fern, blue cohosh, christmas ferns, goldenseal, and bloodroot present. I didn’t take many photos because daylight was fading fast and I still hadn’t found the ginseng.

However, a shaft of sunlight filtered between the tree canopies to fall on the nettles, and it made a beautiful photo so I had to stop for that:

Wood nettles in flower. These sting. I know this from experience.
Wood nettles in flower. These sting. I know this from experience.

Wood nettles are a great indicator of rich, moist, loamy soil – perfection for American ginseng. But there was still no ginseng in sight. I walked eastward a little longer, then downhill toward a spot I was fairly sure I could find some plants.

One of the wild ginseng plants with only green berries.
One of the wild ginseng plants with only green berries.
Mature 3-prong American ginseng with ripe berries.
Mature 3-prong American ginseng with ripe berries.

So I found a few plants and took a few pictures, and then it was time to get back to the trail before the sun went down much more and made it too difficult to find my way back!



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Armadillo Dilemma: To Kill or Not to Kill

Armadillo hide-out.
Armadillo hide-out.

So an armadillo moved into one of the ginseng nursery beds. It’s been a destructive force in the area since it arrived a couple of weeks ago.

What would you do? Kill the armadillo or let it live?

Why a dilemma to me?

First of all, I don’t like to kill anything unless we’re going to eat it. I’m not going to eat an armadillo.

But the armadillo is causing havoc. Wild Ozark grows wild-simulated American ginseng, which is indistinguishable from wild except on a genetic level.

The critter isn’t eating the ginseng, but the earthworms that live in the ginseng patch.

If I let this go and allow Nature to determine what happens next, the armadillo will continue to tear up ginseng rootlets as it hunts earthworms at night.

Armadillos are not native here. Neither are the earthworms. Am I native here? At least on a human-level, I think I am.

There is evidence that humans lived here many thousands of years ago. Not so for the cute little leprosy-hosting armored bandits. They migrated up from Texas, along with their road-runner friends.

At least the earthworms are beneficial and don’t harm the plant that is the  basis of our livelihood.

But the armadillo is also eating grubs, which are the larva of an insect (Japanese beetle) that also isn’t native. And the grubs do eat the roots of plants possibly including the ginseng.

So it could be doing me a service even if it is very destructive in the process.

Don’t fear the Armadillo-Leprosy connection

As a side-note, there’s no need to worry about the leprosy unless you’re cuddling armadillos. You can’t catch the disease just by inhabiting the same piece of ground.

If you do tend to play with wild animals, however, I’d leave the armadillo off of your list of critters to cuddle. Just in case. At least leprosy can be treated nowadays.

But that’s about as comforting to me as knowing that I can get rabies shots if I’m bitten by a rabid animal.  I’d just rather not.

Armadillo Decision

If I kill the armadillo, then I have interfered with Nature, right? If I don’t kill it, maybe it’ll help cut down on the Japanese beetle problem.

If I let the it live, then it will likely produce offspring, if it hasn’t already. Then those in turn will turn up even more of the nursery beds.

Even if it eats every last one of the grubs it’ll never run out of earthworms to devour. The grubs aren’t so much of an issue in our woods. The earthworms are doing a helpful job.

I feel that I myself am a natural part of Nature, and therefore have a right to defend territory I’ve marked as “mine”.

I’ll tell this to the invader later today. Then it can either leave or stay and face the consequences.

First I’ll try the live trap and relocation. If that doesn’t work, it’ll be on the hit list.

 



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Ginseng in May

I’m drawing a sketch of a 4-prong American ginseng from a photo I took last year in May.  The sketch will be titled “Ginseng in May”.

Limited Prints are $30. Signed & numbered, giclee print on heavy fine art paper. Finished size is 10.5 x 13". Order yours now for $30 + shipping.
Limited Prints are $30. Signed & numbered, giclee print on heavy fine art paper. Finished size is 10.5 x 13″. Order yours now for $30 + shipping.

My First Show Entry

This drawing will be displayed (and will be for sale) at the show in Kingston, AR at The Place on the Square Art Room Gallery during the month of May 2016. It’s not going to be all my art, but a collection of the artists of our area. Please come out if you’re in the area during the month!

I thought I’d record my process of this piece. The first step was to draw a light outline. It didn’t show up in the scans because it was so light, so there’s nothing for me to show you of that first step.

Step 1 Initial Outline

The initial outline is the hardest part of a sketch for me. It’s where all the proportions of the subject must be nailed down.

After the light initial outline, I use a colored pencil to make the final outline and initial shading. Usually it’s the predominant color that I use for this. I have no formal art training, so this is just my own way of making drawings.

Step 2 Final Color Outline

Here’s the final outline in green (vert olive). I am using Prismacolor Premier pencils.

“Ginseng in May”

Color outline of "Ginseng in May" sketch.
Color outline of “Ginseng in May” sketch.

Here’s the photo I’m using for the sketch. You’ll see that my sketch is not an identical copy of the photo. I had to make adjustments to compensate for mistakes I made in the original outline.

This doesn’t bother me, since the aim is not to reproduce the photo. I could just trace it if that were my intention, or use Photoshop to render an outline from the photo.

Rather, this is my artistic interpretation of a 4-prong American ginseng in May, based on a photo I took of the plant.

Photo of a 4-prong ginseng in May.
Photo of a 4-prong ginseng in May.

I’m not going to include the nursery pots in the background, but will add the rock and dried leaves. Usually I only colorize one focus in my drawings, so the ginseng will be colorized but the background will be pencil shading only.

Step 3 Adding Background

In the photo below you’ll see that I’ve added in some background shading. My intention was not to be very detailed with the background, but to give the impression of depth and show the leaves that cluttered the ground beneath the ginseng plant.

This step is the most precarious to me. By this time I’ve invested a good bit of effort and time and shading the wrong spot can ruin the whole sketch. It’s also a bit difficult to get the right effect, or the effect I intend.

background shading of Ginseng in May
background shading of “Ginseng in May”.

Step 4 – Adding Light Tones

Around the edges of the leaves and along all of the veins of each leaflet there is a light color that looks sort of like the bloom on a wild grape. I’ve added a light green shade for this now, because I’ve found it impossible to do once the darker shades are in place.

Adding the light tones to "Ginseng in May" sketch.
Adding the light tones to “Ginseng in May” sketch.

Step 5 – Choosing the Greens

In this step, and before I chose the pencils for the shading or any of the colors, I used a scratch sheet of the same paper the drawing is on.

After the colors are put down and the blending is done, it’s very hard to add another shade. Some of the greens have blue tints to them and I wanted to make sure I had the colors that gave me the look I wanted.

I’m not convinced that everyone sees the same colors in the same way, though. To me, these are the ones that look closest to the plant’s true colors. It also helps to have a large palatte of colors to choose from. Before I got the set of pencils I have now (a large tin of 150 Prismacolor Premier), I only had a set of twelve colors and it was difficult to get the exact shades of colors I wanted in the final sketch.

Here’s my practice sketch on the scratch paper to show how the colors look when blended:

Practicing with blending the greens for "Ginseng in May".
Practicing with blending the greens for “Ginseng in May”.

 

The next step will be to add the greens to the leaves. Then I’ll blend the colors using a pencil with no color made just for that purpose. I may blend the background too, but I haven’t decided about that yet.

Step 6 – Applying Color

Just beginning to apply the color on "Ginseng in May".
Just beginning to apply the color.
Color applied, blending started on the left upper prong.
Color applied, blending started on the left upper prong.

Finally Finished!

I usually do quick sketches. This is the first one I’ve done that took more than one full day to complete. Whew! Come out and see it during the month of May (2016) at The Place on the Square & Art Gallery in Kingston, AR.

Limited Prints are $30. Signed & numbered, giclee print on heavy fine art paper. Finished size is 10.5 x 13". Order yours now for $30 + shipping.
All Done!

Thanks for Following Along

If you do come out to see the art show, let me know and if I’m able maybe we can meet for coffee at the show. I’m listed as “Wild Ozark” in everything, so do a search and follow or friend me. Let me know you saw this post and I’ll be sure to follow/friend you back!

Finished Size

The framed original is on display at The Place on the Square in Kingston, AR. Prints are available.
The framed original is on display at The Place on the Square in Kingston, AR. Prints are available.

For the original, the paper is 8.5 x 11, charcoal mat with a framed size of 13 x 17.

Giclee Prints

Prints are the same size image, but there is a 1″ white space surrounding the 8.5 x 11 drawing. These are high quality prints made at a professional printer, packaged in clear cellophane with a backer board, unframed. They’re $30. You can get them from The Place on the Square, or email me and I’ll send you a PayPal invoice. There will be shipping charges added to mail-ordered prints. You can also order from my online shop.

smallMake your own Nature Sketch

If you’d like to make your own nature sketch but want a head start, order the color page . You’ll get downloadable files of the guide and a .jpg high res file to print the outline.



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Nature Art in Kingston, AR

I’ll have a drawing of ginseng on display at the Art Gallery during May 2016. There will be lots of nature art in Kingston during this month.

flyer for art show in kingston, ar featuring nature art by madison woods
Click to go through to the FB page – leave a comment to let us know if you’ll be there at some point, and mention the thing you hope to see most!

If you live anywhere near northwest Arkansas and you enjoy nature art, I’d suggest you try to get by to see this show. Lots of talented artists here in these hills! Not all of the artists feature nature, but mine will be there and many of the other works are of plants, landscapes, and nature.

In my next few posts to this blog, I’ll show my entry as I sketch it. So check back to see the first phase soon of the rough outline sketch of “4-prong American Ginseng in May”.

During the remainder of the year I’ll be focusing on sketching the plants of a ginseng habitat. I already have wild ginger sketched and will be adding blue and black cohosh, bloodroot, goldenseal, jack-in-the-pulpit, spikenard, mayapple, rattlesnake fern and maybe some others.

 



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Oct 18, 2015 – Old Rock Wall and Dead Leaves

Nature Journal Entry Oct 18, 2015 - Old Rock Wall and Dead Leaves

I made a mistake on this one.  This is an old rock wall and it continues in both directions for some length but in the sketch I didn’t give that appearance. What I should have done was draw some lines to outline the continuing rocks if nothing else.

Instead, what it appears to be is a stack of a few rocks rather than the line of rocks the wall makes.

Getting the color on the single leaf near the center was difficult because I didn’t have a red pencil. But using purple and orange came close to the deep maroon it actually was.



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods

Nature Sketching Day 23- Wild Ginger

Wild ginger is one of the few remaining companions of the American ginseng habitat that are still green at this time of year.

Wild Ozark Nature Sketch Day 23 - Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)



About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods

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, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.


We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program; an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Thank you for reading and/or participating in this Wild Ozark community! ~ Madison Woods