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.


First Hunt by Ima ErthwitchPredator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, not published yet, 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 (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) 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. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.

Nature Farming


Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.

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.


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