Finding Ginseng After the Leaves Fall

It’s hard to find ginseng after the leaves fall.

Hard to Spot

This is how ginseng looks late in the season.

Finding ginseng after the leaves fall is difficult. Only three prongs left and falling apart, this is how ginseng looks in November in the Ozarks.
Only three prongs left (it was a four prong) and falling apart, this is how ginseng looks in November in the Ozarks.

They no longer have yellow and easy to spot leaves. The berries have long since fallen to the ground and are now covered with autumn leaves.

So anyone who digs now must be very good at finding the old stems. Or they’d have to know exactly where they are.

No Fresh Roots in Fall?

This is why it’s hard to find fresh roots at the end of the digging season.

A closer view of the curled and dead leaves on the ginseng in November.
A closer view of the curled and dead leaves on the ginseng in November.

Here in Arkansas, t’s legal to dig until Dec. 1. But not many people do once it becomes this difficult to find.

Sustainable Harvesting

American ginseng is an endangered plant. Responsible diggers take a sustainable approach to harvesting, and never dig all of the plants in a patch. They leave behind some of the oldest plants to continue producing berries and pass on good genetics.

Those diggers will likely snap the tops off of the plants they don’t dig, so that no one else who comes behind them in the woods will find the plants they passed.

Finding Ginseng After the Leaves Fall

The plants that managed to escape notice from over-zealous diggers early in the season can breathe a sigh of relief. Only the very experienced have any chance of finding ginseng after the leaves fall.

From time to time I’ll need to dig a few of the seedlings to fill a late order. Because I know exactly where I put them, I can find them easily enough after raking the leaves away from the ground.

Next year’s bud is already on the top of all the plants, including the small roots that will be next year’s two-prongs. If I need to transplant some of the older plants from one area to another, that’s how I’d find them, too.

But it’s only because I have a good idea of where they are to begin with that I’d have much of a chance of finding them once even the stems are on the ground mingling with the leaves.

Finding ginseng after the leaves fall is like looking for a needle in a haystack unless you know exactly where to look.


About Wild Ozark
Wild Ozark is a nature farm. Mostly we grow rocks. I use those rocks and some of the herbs to make earth pigments and watercolor paints. We also grow native clay that I use for making my Fairy Swing Mushrooms. And then there are the trees. We grow lots of trees. My husband uses some for his woodworking and some for our Burnt Kettle Shagbark Hickory Syrup, but for the most part they stand around creating good air, shade, & habitat for the ginseng nursery.
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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. You can find my art on display and for sale at the Kingston Square Arts shop in Kingston, Arkansas. It's a tiny little town and a bit off the path to anywhere at all, but a wonderful ride out to a most beautiful part of our state. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making arts & crafty things, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.