Photos of Plants – Medicinal & Useful plants down the Wild Ozark Driveway

I’m still mostly stuck in the house because of my knee (dislocated it a little over a week ago) but I took the four-wheeler and camera down the driveway to get a few photos of plants unfurling or coming into bloom.

Doll’s Eyes versus Black Cohosh

Late last year, after the flood in summer, I divided and planted what I was pretty sure was black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) on one side of a rock and what I was pretty sure was Doll’s Eyes (Actaea pachypoda) on the other side of the same rock.

Photos of plants : black cohosh
Black cohosh, not sure if they’ll make flowers this year or not, but I hope so. That way I’ll have an absolute positive ID on them.
Photos of plants: Doll's Eyes (White Baneberry).
On the other side of the rock is Doll’s Eyes (White Baneberry).

I planted them near each other so I could watch them side by side as they grew. These two plants are the hardest two plants for me to tell apart. But I’m beginning to see the differences between the two and today one of them bloomed which gives me a positive identification at least on the one. I’ll make a blog post about the differences I’m seeing later on this week. I made a post last year about my difficulty telling them apart.

The reason learning the difference is so important to me is because I want to harvest the roots of black cohosh to have on hand for medicinal uses. The roots are antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and are useful for menopausal or PMS symptoms. The best time to harvest a plant for the roots is after they’ve finished flowering and the leaves are beginning to die back. Mistaking the doll’s eyes for cohosh would be a bad mistake, possibly deadly. To make certain I’m digging the right plant once there isn’t a flower to judge by, I’m going to tie a ribbon around the base of the cohosh plants.

More Photos of Plants

The mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) are blooming in profusion. Maybe this year I’ll get to try the fruit. I always miss them when it’s time to harvest. Mayapple roots and the whole plant except for the ripe fruit are poisonous, but were used medicinally by native Americans. The roots are used to make cancer medicines.

A plant medicinal in very small quantities can be very toxic in too large a quantity. I read a story somewhere a while back about campers who had confused this plant with goldenseal. They thought that they’d make a tea with “goldenseal” to improve their odds of passing a drug screening (apparently they had smoked some weed while camping). The mistake was fatal for one of them because the mayapple tea caused liver failure.

photos of plants-Mayapple in bloom
Mayapple in bloom
Mayapple flower
Mayapple flower

The red honeysuckle was blooming. This is one of our native honeysuckles and isn’t invasive like the sweetly scented Japanese honeysuckle that chokes out everything it grows on. The red one is a valued nectar source for hummingbirds and certain bumble bees with long tongues. Not all bumbles have long tongues.

Native red honeysuckle.
Native red honeysuckle.

The Ohio buckeyes are blooming. When this tree is very young and only about a foot tall, it looks very much like ginseng. Aside from Virginia creeper, t’s one of the look-alikes most often mistaken for more valuable plant. I don’t use the buckeyes for anything. They’re a relative to horse chestnut which is useful for strengthening capillaries, but I don’t think our native variety has the same properties. Butterflies seem to enjoy the flowers, though.

Ohio Buckeye
Ohio Buckeye

I usually take photos of plants, not so often of animals. The main reason why is because the animals move too quickly or are too far away for my lens. But I got a decent one of a hawk in a tree. Rob is the raptor expert in our household. So I’m always trying to get pictures of the hawks so he can tell me what kind they are.

Broad-winged Hawk against a very blue sky.
Broad-winged Hawk against a very blue sky.

The southern black haw is blooming, too. Viburnum root is a component in one of my favorite antispasmodic recipes. The variety that grows here is V. rufidulum and may have similar properties. I haven’t tried it yet to see if it is as effective as V. prunifolium. The berries on our native are edible and I’ve tasted one before but haven’t tried using them to make anything yet. The flavor was sweet but the fruits weren’t real juicy or as pleasant to eat as wild raspberries.

Southern Black Haw in flower.
Southern Black Haw in flower.

Rob has been working on the landslide since he’s been home. There’s a lot to do on this particular project, and I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those never-ending sort of jobs. But he has to get it opened up so concrete trucks can get up to the house where he wants to build his shop, so it’s the top priority in our list of homestead chores right now. We need the shop to make working on all of the other things easier.

Getting started on clearing the driveway after the landslide last year.
Getting started on clearing the driveway after the landslide last year.
After day one of working on clearing the landslide.
After day one of working on clearing the landslide.
And by the end of day 2, new earth moved into the work area.
And by the end of day 2, new earth moved into the work area.


It felt good to get out and look at plants again and to get over to the driveway worksite. The four-wheeler had been in the shop for repairs so until we got it back the other day I was limited to walking inside the house or to and from the truck. While stuck in bed for the first few days after hurting my knee, I worked on a drawing of ginseng.


Update from Wild Ozark

Lots of things going on – or rather, NOT going on lately.

If you’re a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you’ve probably already seen the update that I won’t be doing the farmer’s market this year. I forgot to add some of the items below to the newsletter, so this post is not a complete repeat of the email.

I dislocated my knee on Thursday this past week, the day after we got home from our Texas – Louisiana trip. Although nothing is broken, that was a pretty traumatic event to my knee and I’m not sure it’s going to be good for much for a while yet. I can’t work on potting my plants, or work in the garden, or roast coffee. All activities vital to the market so I’ll have something to sell. Then there’s the work of setting up and taking down the booth, which is asking a lot of the knee. So I won’t be doing it this year. I’d rather put it off than risk further injury which would increase the odds of needing surgery on the thing.

I’ve been using my ointments on my knee and they seem to be helping. Today I’m almost able to walk normally, but there is still some pain on the top of my kneecap and I can tell it’s not strong enough yet to go without the brace. The ointments were the Ginseng & Lobelia (out of it now), Ginseng, Chilpetine, Coffee & Wild Comfrey Balm, and Sesame & Arnica balm. When I get a chance I’m going to make a profile page of what I used and how it’s helped to add under my “Herbalism” category. It’s hard to say whether what I’m doing helps or not because I’ve never had this happen before, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. All I know is that on day 3, the swelling is down, stiffness down, very little bruising or pain. To me, that’s terrific after what seems like should have been a pretty bad thing for my knee.

There are things still on the list that I DO intend to do:

nature journal workshop flier

Spring Unfurling Update

update on blue cohosh
One of the blue cohosh transplants that miraculously survived last year’s flood.

The only ginseng unfurling are the ones that were already there or seedlings from the mature plants. Very few of the seedlings are showing up from the from the seeds we planted. I’ve heard feedback from a few others on the list who are seeing the same thing.

I was very happy to see the blue cohosh, black cohosh, and doll’s eyes that I’d transplanted last year have all come up! Send me your ginseng habitat updates, particularly your ginseng seed germination if you planted any last fall.



Ginseng Seedling When it Comes Up in the First Year from a Seed

Ginseng seedling day 2
A first year ginseng seedling the second day after unfurling.

Ginseng Seedling

In the first year, an American ginseng seedling has three leaves and looks a little bit like a wild strawberry plant. It does not look much like an older ginseng plant from years two or older. The photo was taken on the second day after it emerged, but it looked pretty much the same right after it finished unfurling its leaves yesterday.

There’s More

If you look closely, you can see another one just beginning to come up in the lower left corner and another left of the stick in the lower right. And I just noticed another one near the middle at the top, but it’s not in focus. Click on the photo for a larger image.

Want to Compare?

If you want to see what the wild strawberry looks like, I have a page that compares them to each other.

Nature-Influenced writing by Madison Woods

Nature-Influenced Writing

I write fiction and nonfiction, all of which is nature-influenced. Nonfiction topics include useful plants, ginseng. Fiction is rural fantasy.

Nature-Influenced Nonfiction

My nonfiction titles are all short books on American ginseng, useful plants, and nature. Most are available as paperback or Kindle, but some are only Kindle.

The Wild Ozark Nature Boutique will carry all of the paperback titles (opening May 2017). The online shop is still under construction. All titles are available through Amazon and most other retailers online.

The Kindle versions are only available at Amazon.

CLICK HERE to go to the Amazon listings for NONFICTION. This is where you’ll find all of my ginseng books, herbal books, photography Kindle books and the new Wild Ozark Musings series.

The images below link to the titles at Amazon, Createspace, or other retailers where the books are available for purchase.

The Autumn 2015 collection of Wild Ozark Nature Journal is FREE all week Monday Nov 16 through Friday Nov 20Cover art for the new My Nature Journal from Wild OzarkCover-low  cover for 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing Sustainable Ginseng Cover-front-205x267 DIY Ginseng Habitat & Site Assessment Guide Before the Unfurling cover for the unfurling of ginseng cover for forest companions


Nature-Influenced Fiction

What is Rural Fantasy?

You’ve heard of Urban Fantasy, I’m sure. Well, Rural Fantasy is set in less-than-urban settings. My stories are most often in small towns, far off the beaten path, or in the woods or wilderness. And most likely it’s in the Ozarks.

My rural fantasy is written under a different name so I can keep the fiction and nonfiction separate. I have a website just for my fiction. Click the link below to go there.

Rural Fantasy by Ima Erthwitch

Cover for book 1 of the Bounty Hunter series by Ima Erthwitch Cover for short story by Ima Erthwitch No Qualms cover for short story by Ima Erthwitch

The Business ‘Circle of Life’ at Wild Ozark

An older post, but still representative. Eventually I’ll update it but for now, I’ll leave it alone:

This is the second year since making Wild Ozark my full-time endeavor. Over the past year, I’ve noticed a life-cycle of sorts. It’s risen organically, and next year I hope to be more efficient at taking advantage of this circle of life, working with the flow of the seasons to bring products to life.

Winter is coming

It was a chilly 49* when I got up this morning and so I started the first fire of the season in our woodstove.

I love the cooler temps, but mostly I think it’s the more saturated colors caused by shadow and shifting light angles that I love most of all. And then there are the sounds. Those change with the seasons too. Crows and Jays often are the first sounds I hear at this time of year, aside from the roosters crowing at dawn.

The other thing I love about this time of year is the harvest. I went out gathering lobelia seeds, black cohosh and black snakeroot, and spicebush berries last week. This weekend I’m making ointments. Aside from writing, this activity is my favorite thing to do.

Wild Ozark Circle of Life: My fall root and berry harvest. I didn't gather much of any one thing, just took what I needed for a few of my recipes.
My fall root and berry harvest. I didn’t gather much of any one thing, just took what I needed for a few of my recipes. That’s why quantities will always be limited when I sell them.
Wild Ozark Circle of Life: Black snakeroot (Sanicula canadensis) are astringent and vulnerary. And they dry to become very stiff and pokey! I'll use these in a general purpose scratch & scrape balm.
Black snakeroot (Sanicula canadensis) are astringent and vulnerary. And they dry to become very stiff and pokey! I’ll use these in a general purpose scratch & scrape balm.
Wild Ozark Circle of Life: Ripe spicebush (Lindera benzoin) berries. We didn't have very many of these this year, so I only gathered a handful. I use these in the muscle & sore joint rub.
Ripe spicebush (Lindera benzoin) berries. We didn’t have very many of these this year, so I only gathered a handful. I use these in the muscle & sore joint rub.
Wild Ozark Circle of Life: Roots of wild comfrey (Cynogolossum virginianum). I'll use this in a burn salve.
Roots of wild comfrey (Cynogolossum virginianum). I’ll use this in a burn salve.
Wild Ozark Circle of Life: Possibly black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) but I'm holding this for positive i.d. when the plants flower again. I replanted several parts of this root mass.
Possibly black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) but I’m holding this for positive i.d. when the plants flower again. I replanted several parts of this root mass.

The Wild Ozark Circle of Life

Early Fall

This is when the berries are ripe on spicebush, which I use in one of my herbal formulas for muscle and joint pain. It’s also when it’s time to gather berries for propagation of doll’s eyes and spikenard. It’s also when I gather the ginseng berries to reseed them in places where I want more to grow if I don’t want to let them naturally fall from the plant.

It’s illegal to do this with the wild ginseng, by the way. Most of what we have here are wild-simulated. I began planting seeds here in 2005 but avoided planting in the areas I knew already had native colonies growing. With wild ginseng, you have to replant the seeds of any plants you dig in the same location as the mother.

When the tops of plants begin to die back, it’s the time to gather roots. Black cohosh, black snakeroot, bloodroot, goldenseal, and wild comfrey fall into this category along with ginseng. Many of these roots will be put to stores for herbal remedies but many are also divided and replanted to propagate plants for the nursery.

This time of year is a good time to begin making ointments and tinctures from the herbs I’ve gathered.

It’s also a good time of year for our homestead projects. Our “To-Do” list is a mile longer and grows by the minute, it seems. Firewood is something we never seem to have enough of, so we will cut and stack now and throughout the winter, too.

Herbal Remedies

We make a few things at home that we use often and I’ve started bringing these to the market with me. The most popular one is the Amazing Sting oil. I also make lip balms and ointments, and a medicinal tea blend. Then there’s the cold/flu syrup using various wildcrafted herbs as they come into season.

I’m working on making hard candies with the herbs, too. And there’s the Three Kings tincture we use for nail fungus, spider bites, and other difficult topical things.

Most of these are not listed on the shop, but I’ll add them as I can.

Later Fall

We order ginseng seeds with a delivery date somewhere around the beginning of October. For the weeks following the arrival of the seeds, my main task is to get them planted. I don’t want to leave them in the refrigerator too long because that’ll cause them to go dormant and then they won’t sprout the following spring. Did that last year, don’t want to do it again.

I’m still writing now, and we are still working on homestead projects during this time of year, too. And it’s a good time to stack more firewood.


This is the best time of year for making herbal remedies, writing my books and stories, taking photographs, and planning next year’s gardens.

We can’t do many outdoor projects, but once Rob has his shop built he’ll be able to work on his beautiful woodworking projects now.

It seems like we’re always needing more firewood, so cutting and stacking goes on even during snow and ice weather.


Photography is always on my mind in spring. I’m watching now for the ginseng to unfurl and delighting in the awakening of the land. The outdoor homestead projects will begin again.

In spring I sow seeds for both the garden and the nursery. The seeds that were gathered and sown from fall, like the spikenard, green dragons and jack-in-the-pulpit will be coming up along with the ginseng. All the goldenseal, and bloodroot that were divided in fall will now begin unfurling too.

The market begins in late April and I’ll start bringing plants and books and herbal remedies. My plant offerings start out with ginseng and ginseng habitat plants. Then as the weather becomes too warm for those I bring the medicinal and edible wild plants. Books and remedies are available throughout the market season.


I’ll still be at market with plants, books, and herbal remedies. When it’s not market days I’ll be helping Rob with homestead projects and in between it all I write and take photographs.

Full Circle

With early fall it all begins again. Throughout the entire year I write, photograph and create products. I try to keep the blog current with at least one post a week. I also write our monthly newsletter and in those I try to give my subscribers something they’re not getting at the blog -or at least give it to them before it goes to the blog.

I’m honored and pleased to get emails and comments from readers throughout the year. I don’t get many comments; more often it’s emails from readers with questions. Many have come here to learn about the habits of ginseng, want to know how to identify it or grow it, and I love the updates when you let me know how your efforts are going.

Thank you!

Ginseng Pictures: American Ginseng & Companions

70+ photos of ginseng, companion plants, and habitat in the Ozarks

Paperback Available Now!

Available now through Createspace and by July 30, 2015 at Amazon. Available through Wild Ozark’s online shop August 30, 2015.

The book is $19.99 at all three locations and contains a coupon to get the PDF version FREE from our online shop. The PDF version contains a coupon for a $4.00 discount for the paperback when purchased at our online shop.

Get the DVD edition free when purchased through Wild Ozark’s online shop (as long as supplies of the DVD lasts). If you’d like to get notified by newsletter when this is available, join my monthly mailing list.



 Slide-show Movie on USB

Fill your computer screen with Beautiful Full-Color Photos Highlighting the Plants that Grow in the Ginseng Woods. See sample pages at the bottom of this post.

Here’s the first 5 minutes:

  • 45 Minute Slide-show with background music (This is gorgeous and I know you’ll love it! Stop it if you want to pause on a page.)

2. Slide-show on DVD

It’s like having a book on DVD. Features the same beautiful slide-show as the USB (above), but without the other files. Plays on computers or television DVD players.   (This item is no longer available separately, but is free with paperback purchase from Shop Wild Ozark as long as supplies of the DVD lasts.)

3. Kindle Photo Books

The first three chapters of the paperback is available for Kindle at Amazon. Click on the images to go to the Amazon series page:

cover image for before the unfurling cover image for the unfurling cover image for Forest Companions

  • Ginseng Picture Books – these pages open up full-sized in landscape orientation on your Kindle readers
  • Also works on iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, or PC if you install the Kindle reading apps for those devices
  • 20-30 full-color photos in each book
  • Photos of ginseng, plants that bloom before ginseng, and photos of ginseng companion plants
  • Makes identification of habitat and plants easier

Some of the Pages from the Books

A Woodland Habitat – Dragons among the Nettles and Cohosh

There’s a particular woodland habitat at the far corner of our property that I love.

The variety of plants that grow there is amazing.

It’s the perfect place for American ginseng, but those plants have nearly been extirpated by diggers foraging the hillsides of our area. It’s too far from the house for me to be able to keep a close eye on it, so I likely won’t plant any more in that spot.

Instead, I visit and enjoy the company of the plants who do have a stronghold there.

Here’s the path. The phone company ran through here a few years ago but before that it was a logging trail. Now it isn’t used for anything except as a path for my visits.

carpet of nettles green dragons and cohosh and dolls eyes
A carpet of nettles green dragons and cohosh and dolls eyes.

It’s so lush and green I almost want to lie down, but nettles aren’t very forgiving. I wear long sleeves and socks with my shoes when I tread this path. Then I still have to be careful about my face when getting down close to the ground for photos.

Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium)

From a distance all you can see is green, and most of that green is tall wood nettles – and they sting. But there’s a Green Dragon lurking.

Green dragon from above.
Green dragon from above.

When you look closer, you’ll notice there’s more than nettles (left of the dragon) to be found. There’s also a mayapple (just left of center, top) and either a Doll’s Eye or Black Cohosh (top, right), and some wild legume species (lower right) to be found in just this one photo frame.

There was very nearly a whole herd of dragons in the stretch of path in the first photo. One displayed the plant’s namesake.

dragon tongue
dragon tongue

I made some drawings of the green dragons based on these photos for the North American Native Plant Society. They’ll be published along with my article in summer 2018. Prints are available as a set, or separately.

Green Dragon with fruit cluster and Namesake of the Dragon, by Madison Woods
Green Dragon with fruit cluster and Namesake of the Dragon, by Madison Woods

Last year I collected seeds from a Green Dragon. Below is a pic of the dragon from last year. This year, I can’t find that particular dragon. Instead, there’s a giant Jack-in-the-Pulpit growing where the dragon was. Before I found this photo in my files, I couldn’t remember whether the cluster still had identifying leaves on it or not.

Mature green dragon with fruit.
Mature green dragon with fruit.

I was uncertain. Did the berries I gathered come from a dragon or a pulpit? So the photo shows it clearly was a dragon.

Sometimes there’s no plant left once the berries become red. Sometimes the leaves die back and only the stem and berries are standing in fall. The berry cluster of both plants, without leaves to identify, looks very similar to each other.

It’ll be two years before I have indisputable proof, once the additional leaves come on if it is indeed a Dragon and not the Pulpit.

I have a page where I’m keeping track of the seedlings. For the moment I’m calling them dragons. Here’s a link to the Dragon page.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Here’s a pic of the giant Pulpit that’s there now where the dragon used to be. I know that JIP’s can sometimes change sex when conditions are right for successfully producing offspring (proper nutrition, proper moisture levels, etc.), but I don’t believe they can swap species. Both are of the genus Arisaema and they do have a lot of similarities to each other.

Giant jack in the pulpit.
Giant jack in the pulpit.

This is the hugest Jack-in-the-Pulpit I’ve ever seen. Have you ever seen one this big?

Blue Cohosh

The blue cohosh was a little difficult to find. When it first comes up, not much else is bushy or fully leafed out. Blue green stems with fronds of similarly hued leaves unfurling on the rise of a small hill were easy to see. Now the Black Cohosh and Doll’s Eyes in the immediate area have grown up around it and nearly hidden it completely. But I remembered it was growing next to a certain pair of trees. When I pushed the greenery aside, there it was, just hanging out in the shade beneath the much taller Black Cohosh. Berries are formed and still green but it won’t be long before the fruits are ripe. Then the plant will probably die on back.

Blue Cohosh Berries
Blue Cohosh Berries

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

goldenseal with green fruit goldenseal fruit

The goldenseal have green fruits on them now.

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

On the hill I spotted the purple flowers of a wild geranium. Look closely inside the flower and you’ll spot the little squatter.

wild geraniumAdam and Eve Orchid (Aplectrum hyemale)

I’ve always wondered what the flowers of this plant looks like. This was the first one I’ve ever seen, in all the years of traipsing through the woods. I see the leaves all around but apparently never timed my excursions just right to see the flowers. Either that or I’d always overlooked them.

Flowers of the Adam and Eve orchid


Just as the leaf is a single leaf and nothing else, the flower stalk is a single stalk and nothing else. No leaves to identify the plant, so it stumped me for a little while until I made a guess and verified it by looking it up on the internet.

Heading Back to the House

Well, that’s the end of the photographic journey into the habitat. I hope you enjoyed your virtual woodland walk. The sun was going down by this time and I’d run out of good light in the deep woods. We’ve had a lot of rain lately and the springs are still flowing hard, as you can see from the puddles in the photo below. Badger is our lead guardian dog and he usually goes out with me on all of my walks. The other two dogs are there, too, somewhere in the bushes chasing rabbits.

Wild Ozark's lead guardian dog, Badger.
Wild Ozark’s lead guardian dog, Badger.



Wild Ozark’s Monthly Newsletter -May 2015

Here’s one of my monthly newsletters that goes out to my subscribers. This one is from May 2015 and is all about challenges, new discoveries, and a brand new product from Wild Ozark.

“Greatest” Challenge

Are you often faced with challenging situations to figure yourself out of? It seems I get to encounter “greatest” challenges often. Sometimes they’re tech related, as when I’m trying to learn how to do something new to or correct a problem with my website.

Sometimes the challenges are physical, like when my body thought it could go no longer while we were working on fences here around the homestead.

For the past week and a half, my new challenge has been Mother Nature.

Specifically, it was the wind at the farmer’s market. Today (I’m writing this on Saturday 4/25) the wind was especially brutal. Signs kept blowing over, plants were toppled off of the shelves, and it was blowing from the beginning. I didn’t even bother to put up the television that runs the DVD in my booth. The booth itself tried to blow away (but thankfully that was tied to the truck, and a kind customer held onto one of the legs for me). My business cards have probably traveled on the wind all the way to Newton county by end of day. I had to close up shop early.

Even with the distraction of the wind, the booth is at least a “storefront” and I’ve been enjoying talking to people who come in about ginseng and the habitat where it grows. If you’re in town (Huntsville, AR) on a Tuesday or Saturday morning, swing through the town square and say hello!

(update 2018: I’m not sure I’ll be there again this year, so be sure to check back with me in spring to find out)

Wild Ozark's Market booth Wild Ozark's Booth setup

What’s for sale at the booth?

Well, not ginseng anymore. I’ve already sold out of all I had. Remember how I’d said my seeds didn’t sprout? More about that, below. What I do have is elderberry, wild strawberry, wild red raspberry, spicebush, pawpaw trees, witch hazel trees, gooseberries, and a few other things. I still bring some bloodroot, goldenseal, wild ginger, and blue cohosh. Once the doll’s eyes and black cohosh blooms, I’ll bring that too. I didn’t label the pots last year, so I’m waiting for blooms to be absolutely certain which is which.

Procrastination Confession

I’ll share my poor planning so you can avoid doing the same thing – I didn’t plant while the weather was still good, and then it started snowing and freezing and by then I didn’t want to go outside much, let alone try to rake leaf litter off of frozen ground. And then once it warmed up again, well, that’s when the rains started.

So it was a major oversight on my part and it won’t happen again if I can help it. If for some reason I do have to hold them longer, I’ll have to give a call to help me with the proper way to do it. I know it involves a bucket of damp sand in a cool, dark place. But better yet that I not procrastinate again.

(update 2018: I kept the seeds in a bucket in a cellophane-not plastic-bag with live moss. I put the bucket in a closet in a room that doesn’t get heating/cooling but does stay above freezing. They did great and the ones I still have left now in January 2018 are starting to “smile”.)

Now that the tender woodland herbs are done blooming and would fare poorly in the heat, I’m bringing more of the medicinal and edible plants like yarrow, All-heal, elderberry and some of the shrubs like spicebush and gooseberry.

April Blog Post Index


That’s all folks!

Please take a moment to share this newsletter with your social circles 🙂

A Ginseng Sanctuary at the Compton Gardens in Bentonville

American Ginseng Sanctuary at Compton Gardens UPS signWild Ozark is honored and excited to be embarking on a long-term project in conjunction with Compton Gardens in Bentonville, Arkansas. This American Ginseng Sanctuary project is made possible, in part, by a grant from the United Plant Savers.

This is still under construction but you can see it anytime of the year. Ginseng will be visible only from late April through November, possibly early October.

You can email me at [email protected] if you have any questions about it.

Where is it:

Address: 312 N Main St, Bentonville, AR 72712

 Progress Updates

I’ll update this timeline each time we do work on the habitat and hyperlink it to the bottom of the page where more details and photos will be added. When I do that, I’ll revise the post date and it’ll cause this to show up as a new blog post each time.




Origin Story

It all started near the end of November 2014 with an introduction made by a mutual friend, Terry Stanfill. Once he put me in contact with Corrin Troutman, a grand plan began to take root. Corrin is the Director of Operations for the gardens. Luke Davis is the Site Manager. I emailed them my proposal – to install plants that make up a ginseng habitat in a suitable spot in their garden. My desire to do this stems from my own experiences in learning to identify ginseng and the proper type of forests where it likes to grow:

“When I first started learning to identify ginseng I went to the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View. They had specimen plants and also some Virginia creeper so I could see them nearly side-by side while I examined the difference. I know this sort of information may encourage people who seek ginseng for the roots. But it also inspires a love and appreciation for the very unique habitat these plants need to grow. It encourages others who have proper habitat to restore ginseng to it, and those who do intend to harvest can do so with a sustainable frame of mind.” – from my letter to Corrin proposing the project.

The excitement began to build shortly thereafter. Once I knew Compton gardens were on board, I sent a proposal to the United Plant Savers. To my surprise and delight, Dr. Susan Leopold, Executive Director of UPS wrote back and admitted to being excited too!

Why So Excited?

I can tell you why *I’m* so excited by this project. It means an outdoor “classroom” in a public and protected place where I can “show and tell” about ginseng and the habitat. It means that others having a hard time figuring out the difference between ginseng and virginia creeper will have a place to go and see them both, with labels, in real life. It means that I’ll be able to combine my efforts with those of others to encourage stewardship and foster love of something basic to our American heritage – a plant that’s been at the heart of a tradition that spans centuries.

Ginseng unfurling in spring
Ginseng unfurling in April

As with most natural resources, when there is a demand, the desire to provide a supply can cause a crisis. Digging by the traditionals isn’t the activity causing the concern. The traditionals have managed their plots for generations without depleting their supply.

Newcomers who may not understand the fragility of the ecosystem ginseng calls home, and those who aren’t considering the future or the impact of today’s behavior on tomorrow’s yield are only part of the challenges presented to the survival of this plant, but it’s a very large part.

Because it needs a specific environment to thrive, when the loss of even one tree can cause an imbalance, development and logging activity have a tremendous impact. And there are still yet other reasons ginseng’s status remains endangered.  Rising deer and turkey populations are a threat. Deer nibble the tops and turkey eat the seeds (which destroys it).

Private landowners can offer sanctuary and refuge to this species and Wild Ozark hopes that through this Ginseng Sanctuary Project at Compton we can encourage stewardship of American Ginseng.


“Compton Gardens and Conference Center are named after Dr. Neil Compton, a noted Bentonville physician, writer, photographer, founder of the Ozark Society, and savior of the Buffalo River.” – from the Compton Garden website


It is because of the spirit of this man I’ve never met that Compton Gardens were my first thought when considering where to embark upon this project. The Buffalo River valley offers many natural sanctuaries for ginseng. It seemed only fitting to re-create a sanctuary habitat in the place that once was the home of the man who rescued that river from man-made demise.

07 April 2015

We planted a few things finally! The weather has caused a bit of delay – winter wouldn’t go away and then spring brought copious rain. It was a small start, but I’ll go back in a week or so to bring some of the ginseng and some of the other plants on our wish-list. Today’s new sanctuary residents include grape fern, doll’s eyes, and goldenseal.

The ginseng sanctuary site
Not quite at ground-zero. A few companions already are here: Dutchman’s Breeches, Bloodroot, Giant Solomon’s Seal, and Wild Ginger.
luke and little davis
Luke Davis, Site Manager and Little Duke
me and corrin
Madison Woods of Wild Ozark (left) and Corrin Troutman, Director of Operations at Compton-Peel Gardens in Bentonville, Arkansas (right).
We were almost color-coordinated that day!


23 April 2015

I brought a starter colony of ginseng consisting of three plants. A seedling, a two-year old, and a three-year-old plant with the beginning of a flower bud. If the oldest one successfully sets fruits this year, then it will have begun establishing a “real” colony here at the gardens. When these fruit fall, they’ll sit under the leaf litter all winter and the berry will decompose, leaving behind the seeds. The seeds will wait until the spring of 2017 to sprout because it needs a full cycle of cold-warm-cold before it receives the cues to begin growing. In the meantime the plant that made the berries this year will again make berries next year and set up the next succession.

So we have the three plants this year. Hopefully we’ll still have the three plants next year, with at least three more waiting to join them. In 2017 we should have at least three new seedlings. The original seedling we planted today should be making berries in 2017, the two year old will be four and making berries and the original three-year old will be five and also making berries. From the three plants installed today, within a few years we should easily be able to see how a sustainable colony can be maintained. That’s assuming they all survive.

Luke had some plants to add, too. In addition to the three ginseng plants, we also planted Maidenhair Fern, Dutchman’s Breeches, Goldenseal, Black Cohosh, Wild Ginger, and Bloodroot.

The area we’re working with is approximately 500 square feet, with room to expand as this first colony fills out.

Here’s some pics from today:

02 June 2015

Copious rain and family duties kept me away from the garden for the entire month of May.  When I went back in June to bring a few more plants, all but one of the previously little transplanted ginseng plants had died back. Hopefully the roots are still there and just dormant and will return again in spring.

In the meantime, Luke said he’d planted some more companions. A backdrop of black cohosh will hopefully grace the habitat with tall spires of white flowers next year. The cohosh is performing well in other areas of the garden, so it should do just as well here in our little sanctuary spot.

A new person is on our sanctuary team now, Bennett Whitley. Bennett is working on his thesis and plans to include research on ginseng habitat in the paper. The guys installed the new plants while I worked on making a list of what we have in place already.

So far this is what we have:

  • Maidenhair fern*
  • Rattlesnake fern (pointer fern)
  • Giant Solomon’s Seal
  • Dutchman’s Breeches (very early spring flowering)
  • Alum Root
  • Witch Hazel
  • Jack-in-the-Pulpit*
  • Wild Ginger*
  • American Spikenard*
  • Green Dragon
  • Wild Hydrangea
  • Black Cohosh*
  • Blue Cohosh (Imperiled in the state of AR)*
  • Doll’s Eyes (Black Cohosh look-alike)*
  • Pawpaw Tree*
  • Redbud
  • Black Haw
  • Celandine Poppy
  • Goldenseal *
  • Bloodroot*
  • Common violet
  • Sugar Maple*
  • Sessile Bellwort
  • American Ginseng

* These are ginseng’s close companions, those plants that are very likely found in ginseng habitat.

Work day at compton


02 June 2016

Bennett Whitley is the new Garden Manager, taking Luke’s place. That’s him on the right in the photo above. Luke has moved on to new grounds in Tennessee and we’ll miss him but have been left in good hands with Bennett. Congratulations Bennett!

We checked on the seeds we planted in fall but only one sprouted so far. I didn’t have my camera with me the day we visited, so won’t have a picture until later. My own seeds sown in fall didn’t sprout either but the ones from year before last finally sprouted so I’m confident that our patch at Compton will grow new seedlings next year.

The weather has been odd this year and that may have had an effect on our plants. Only one of the mature plants we’d transplanted to the site reappeared this spring, but it is a 3-prong with a flower stalk. This will hopefully become the “mother” for the habitat. She should have some babies springing up around her two years from now.

This fall we’ll transplant a few more mature plants to the habitat, install some signage and print some information to get ready for a better unfurling in April 2017. Ginseng is a long-term investment when it comes to growing or re-establishing habitat. It’s not surprising that it is taking more than a year to get our sanctuary filled out with plants, both ginseng and companions.

I’ll update again when we check to see if the berries are forming later this month. And I’ll be sure to bring the camera so we’ll have pictures to share!



April 2015 Newsletter

Welcome to the April 2015 Newsletter from Wild Ozark! For a plant lover, spring is an exciting time of year. This morning I found trout lilies blooming and blue cohosh unfurling! I try to get out to the woods every day to see what’s new that I didn’t see the day before.

trout lily at Wild Ozark
trout lily at Wild Ozark


Business is Good


This month has been a great month for business. Our website visits are increasing which leads to book sales increasing which leads to my ability to invest more money back into the business, which leads to being able to offer better and greater products to you. For example, this month I purchased a new software to help me create better slide-shows of the photographs I’ve been collecting. There is no Wild Ozark herb safe from the camera now, haha. American Ginseng & Companions is the first to benefit from the new software.

Discount for DVD

American Ginseng & Companions isn’t available at Amazon yet but I’m in the process of getting it listed there. The “real” DVD will be $20, the On-Demand version will be around $5. I can’t say what they will set the price at, but that was my suggestion. Rentals will be less than that. Newsletter subscribers get a substantial discount on the “real” item. They’re $10 with this coupon code (“ginseng dvd”) through our online shop. I’ll sell them for $10 at the market in Huntsville or anytime in person after presentation. Before you run out and buy one, though, subscribe to my mailing list and get in on the FREE offer. It’s discussed a bit farther down in the newsletter under the “Business is Bad – DVD issues” heading.

Update since original newsletter release: DVD’s are now only available (free) with any paperback book purchase from the Wild Ozark shop

Click on the image to go to the shop if you want to check it out:

DVD cover for American Ginseng & Companions

I Was Interviewed

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Monica Johnson of east TX. She drove out here and took a little walkabout with me, then we visited with the ginseng buyer Trevor Mills from Harrison, AR. I’m eager to read the article she wrangles from all the good conversation we had over the course of two days.

Freelance Writing

I’ve been contacted by a new magazine about life in the Ozarks, to possibly become a contributing writer. This is exciting. The magazine’s premiere issue was recently released and if I make it on board, I’ll surely be letting you all know where it can be found. It’s a print magazine, not an online thing, which is something I’m glad for.

Business is Bad

Possible Ginseng Failure

I am growing increasingly worried that none or very few of the ginseng seeds we planted in fall are going to sprout. Usually by this time any leftover seeds I have in the refrigerator have long since sprouted and demanded to be planted. None of them have done so. The seeds don’t appear to be dead, just stubborn. So I’m thinking they’ll sit over in the ground this year and sprout next year. This always is the case with a percentage of them, but not normally most of them.

Updated since original newsletter release: I have learned that you can’t keep the seeds in the refrigerator so long or else they will go dormant. It’s best to keep them in layers of sand outside in a cool and sheltered place if you can’t plant them right away. The seeds I have aren’t dead, they just might not sprout this year. (Thanks to Dennis at Ozark Mountain Ginseng for this information!) Next year they should all sprout on schedule. I’ll have some seedlings to sell at market this year, just not so many as I’d planned for.

But obviously, this is bad for the nursery business. I know many of you were looking forward to ginseng seedlings this spring. All I can do is wait and see at this point. At any rate, I’ll have goldenseal, bloodroot, and other of the woodland companions at market. Just not too sure about the ginseng at this point. The strawberry jar at the bottom of this email is planted with companion plants and will feature a ginseng on the top. When it fills out it should be pretty unique and pretty to look at.

DVD issues

The first attempt at burning the new American Ginseng & Companions produced mixed results. The disks worked fine on my own DVD player, but wouldn’t even start on others. Then the text was too blurry, even on my own. So I decided to offer it free to those who would be willing to answer a survey afterwards or leave a review if it worked for them. Since I try to only send this newsletter out once a month, I wasn’t able to get this word to you unless you happened to see it on Facebook or my website. But you can get it free now and give me the feedback if you like.

If you’re already a subscriber, you got the code with the April newsletter that went to your inbox. If you’re a new subscriber, email me ([email protected]) to get the code. The coupon is only good until April 8, 2015. The test rounds that went out last week came back with mostly good responses, so I’m going to cut it loose and let it fly now but your responses will be helpful to me in case there are issues I’ve missed. As far as I know, I haven’t actually “sold” the DVD to anyone yet; they’ve all been free. However, if you are a subscriber and you paid for the DVD I’ll refund your money since I’m making this free offer now. The offer is good until April 8. The USB’s have worked fine. It’s only been the DVD’s that gave me trouble.

Interesting links & articles by others

From ANPS: Know Your Natives – Bloodroot (

Here’s one of the best collections of photography of Arkansas Plants I’ve ever seen: – These are all by Craig Frasier. The only drawback is that there’s no way to search by name or color, but in scrolling through the images I’ve found many of the plants I just needed some second verification on to get a positive id.

Speaking Gigs


I’ll be at the Olli Birthday Luncheon at 11:30 on April 16 at Bordino’s on Dickson Street in Fayetteville. If you’d like to attend to hear my presentation on the ginseng habitat and ginseng we’d love to see you there. I’ll have copies of the DVD’s and some books and other things there. I’m not sure, but I might be able to pass around the slide-show on my Galaxy during the talk so people can get a look at what it is. It’ll be an informal event. I’ll try to bring some plants to pass around, some dried roots to taste, and some photos of the companion plants. The attendees can ask questions and get to know this precious habitat a little better. I’ll also talk some about our project at Compton Gardens in Bentonville. Meals are around $10 and I’ll need to have a headcount, so if you plan to attend, let me know.


Trevor Mills of Mills Ginseng in Harrison Arkansas is trying to organize an event. If you know anyone who could sponsor or participate in a traditional skill/sustainability/survival/mountain man(woman) type of convention drop him a note at his FB page. I’m planning to be a vendor/speaker/presenter at this, but we are not certain about the dates yet and I may be out of pocket during the summer when he might want to do it.

March Blog Post Index

That’s all folks!

This was a pretty lengthy newsletter, so thank you if you managed to read the whole thing 🙂

I hope to meet many of you at the farmer’s market this year. The opening day is April 21, at the Huntsville Town Square, from 7-12. It’ll be every Tuesday and Saturday 7-12. My booth should be somewhere near the gazebo so I can have electricity. I’m going to bring a television and run the DVD on it during the market hours so if you want a preview before buying it, or just want to stand around and watch the whole thing there for free, come on by!

trout lilies and dutchman breeches awaiting market
trout lilies and dutchman breeches awaiting market
Forest companions in a strawberry jar
Forest companions in a strawberry jar
Bloodroot and others awaiting market
Bloodroot and others awaiting market



bloodroot flowers

Potting up Goldenseal

This is my beautiful workspace today where I’m potting up goldenseal, trout lilies and trying in vain to find any of the previously potted ginseng seeds sprouting. Wild Ozark potting table

I’m thinking this year is going to be a poor one for new ginseng. That’s going to be a hard hit on our new Wild Ozark Nursery, unfortunately.

However, I should still have plenty goldenseal, bloodroot and trout lilies to bring to market on April 21. And of course, I’ll have copies of the American Ginseng & Companions DVD’s and USB’s, along with my other books Sustainable Ginseng and the DIY Ginseng Habitat Assessment Guide.

And I’m putting companion plants in the side pockets of those strawberry jars with a ginseng plant on top. This is an experiment, but I hope it works and the plants like growing in them because I think it would be a great market item if they do well.

Potting Goldenseal

Today’s main goal was transplanting the goldenseal that I dug yesterday into pots so I can bring them to market. The tops aren’t showing above-ground anywhere yet, but the unfurling is quietly beginning beneath the dead leaf cover. If you’re planting them in the ground, the steps are the same, just skip the pot.

potting goldenseal step 1
Fill the pot 2/3 full.
Potting Goldenseal Step 2
Spread out the roots on top of the soil. If it’s a large rhizome, the root should be mostly horizontal with the bud pointing skyward.
Potting Goldenseal Step 3
Cover the roots but leave the bud exposed. When you’re done with this step, cover the pot and bud with crumbled dead leaves.

Here’s some of my other posts to do with goldenseal and other herbs:


Other Plants Sprouting and Unfurling or Blooming in the Nursery

The blue cohosh seeds appear to have sprouted, at least, and the bloodroot is already up and blooming. And the Dutchmen’s Breeches are blooming, too. It’s too bad these won’t be still in bloom by the time the market starts. I’ll have to print and laminate a picture of them so people can know what to expect if they’ve never seen them before. The bloodroot might still be in bloom, but maybe not.

Blue Cohosh seedling
The blue cohosh seedling is unfurling.


Mayapple Unfurling
Mayapple Unfurling
Dutchmen's Breeches blooming
Dutchmen’s Breeches blooming
bloodroot flowers
Bloodroot flowers
A goldenseal plant with red berry.

Sights and Sounds of Spring

The sounds of spring fills the night air now. Spring Peepers are calling!

The only visible signs of spring so far as I can see are the bits of wild onion grass growing with a bit more spright than usual. And the chickweed is making my garden look like it already needs to be weeded.

Soon, though, the early bloomers of the ginseng habitat will begin blooming. Every year I go to the woods to watch for them. If you’d like to see them too, I have a USB full of photographs of ginseng and the companion plants, starting with those that bloom in early spring and ending with ripe fruits on the ginseng. It’s $12 with free shipping (unless you want Priority delivery). I’m out of stock right now, but am still taking orders. It’ll only be about two weeks before they’re ready to put in the mail.

cover for American ginseng & Companions
A 30-minute Windows Media Movie, PDF, and Kindle e-book files on USB.

Here’s some of the images from the first chapter (Before the Unfurling) of the slide-show:

button to order Into Ginseng Wood on USB from Wild Ozark

Cover and Sample Page

Here’s the cover and sample page for “Forest Companions”, the last book in the “Into the Ginseng Wood” series. Should be at Amazon by the weekend! If you want to catch up on the others, heres a link to the first one: They open into full page photos, no double-tapping required!

Click on the image below to go to the latest release.

forest companions cover image


A leaf underwater.

Madison Wood’s Blog

Welcome to the Madison Woods blog, where you can reconnect to Nature. This is where I share my experiences living a rural life while growing ginseng and hickory trees. I’m also busy smashing rocks and making watercolor paints from the pigments found here on our land. I’m a nature-lover, author, artist, and nature farmer. My husband Rob is a woodworker, syrup maker, and homestead engineer. Sometimes l blog about that, too.

Pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the read!

One of my faults is that I can’t seem to stay focused on any one creative endeavor. Therefore, I dabble in many. My drawings range from realistic plant images, like this Green Dragon that I drew for the cover of The Blazing Star (North American Native Plant Society’s newsletter):

Green Dragon Drawing
Green Dragon Drawing

To fantasy art that shows my deep connection to the land and spirits of these hollers. Sometimes I’ll post things like this at my blog, but more often these sorts of things are posted at my fiction site (

"Water Priestess" by Madison Woods, rural fantasy artist.
The second drawing in my “Rural Fantasy” series is “Water Priestess”.

Lately I am doing good at staying focused on painting, though. I’m working on a large project that is likely to take me years to complete. Ozark Birds of Prey. Here’s one I recently finished:

"Rhapsody", Goshawk No. 2. 12" x 16", Ozark pigments on 300# Arches paper.
“Rhapsody”, Goshawk No. 2. 12″ x 16″, Ozark pigments on 300# Arches paper.

There is a special draw for me to the deep, dark forests that provide habitat for the likes of dragons and ginseng. So I write and photograph these sorts of places often. My eye for beauty hones in on shape, form, and texture with a leaning toward early morning light.

Typical photography at the Madison Woods Blog. My favorite photo of the early spring plants of the ginseng habitat this year.
Christmas fern new fronds unfurling. Polystichum acrostichoides

I love it when people interact with my posts to leave comments, and I welcome emails from visitors. If you want help figuring out what kind of plant you have, especially if it might be ginseng, feel free to get in touch with me via any of the methods posted on the “Contact” page.