Struggling to identify ginseng in the wild? Learn the difference between ginseng and the notorious ginseng look alikes with this guide.
Excerpt from the book:
GINSENG IS NOTORIOUSLY HARD to spot in the wild. I still have a little trouble finding the first plant each season, even if I know there’s one there because I planted it myself. But after spotting the first one, finding more is easier.
For those new to finding this plant there are a few plants that do a really good job of tricking the seeker into thinking they’re finders. They’re called the ginseng look alikes.
Take heart, though. Once you become adept at telling the difference between ginseng (Panax Quinquefolius) and the other plants that look like it, you’ll rarely make the mistake again. Eventually you’ll wonder how you ever confused them with ginseng in the first place.
Images and description
The following images and plant descriptions are of the most common look-alikes. There are other plants that some people find confusing, but these are the ones I am most often asked about.
Virginia creeper is the single most mistaken plant. Therefore the longest chapter will focus on that one.
In an Ideal World
Ideally you’ll have examples of both plants in real life to look at. If you are able to travel to northwest Arkansas there are labeled plants at Compton Gardens in Bentonville and The Ozark Folk Center in Mountainview. Here at Wild Ozark in Kingston, I have a Ginseng Habitat Garden with plant markers to help people learn the differences plus I’m there to point them out in person.
Perhaps there is a botanical garden in your area or maybe you can find someone who knows the plants and will take you out to the woods to show you some examples.
Short of that, it is my hope that seeing the photos in this book will help you. As an added value, you are welcome to send me photos of your suspects and I’ll let you know if what you’ve found is ginseng or a notorious look-alike. My email address is in the back.
This is a visual guide and less so an identification key. It is not intended to help you identify certain plants, per se, but to help you learn what is NOT ginseng and WHY it is not ginseng.
Where to buy?
You can get the book from various retailers by clicking the image at the top. Or you can get the PDF from me and print it yourself at home: