American ginseng in the Wild Ozark woods in June.

Potted Ginseng Seedlings in Arkansas

So I have some help this year with the ginseng nursery from a pair of young organic, permaculture enthusiasts who are ready to learn about being good ginseng stewards. That means I will after all have some potted ginseng seedlings available throughout spring! They’ll have to be picked up in the Kingston square, by appointment.

If the new ginseng stewards decide they will do it again next year, we’ll have an even better offering of ginseng and companions in spring 2020. I’ll let you know how it went by the end of season this year.

Prices

1rst year- $5/ea
2nd year- $10/ea
Habitat collections with 3+ year ginseng and bloodroot, wild ginger, and goldenseal in larger pots: 3-prong, $75/ea or 4-prong, $100/ea

Order by emailing me and I’ll send you a PayPal invoice.

[email protected]

The Wild Ozark booth will also be at the Kingston Fair on the Square with ginseng plants on May 11, 2019. I won’t be there but will have some helpers operating the booth. Email to reserve plants for pickup there.

American ginseng in July.
American ginseng in July.
Ginseng looks a lot like buckeye saplings.

Learning the Difference: Ginseng or Buckeye?

Is it ginseng? No, it’s buckeye.

There are a few plants that grow here in the Ozarks that make it really difficult for newbies to identify ginseng. That’s because these look so much like ginseng to the inexperienced eye. These are called ginseng look-alikes. One of the look-alikes is Ohio buckeye (Aesculus flava).

This is a tree native to the Ozarks. It begins blooming in very early spring with pale yellow flower spires at the tip end of branches. The leaves are palmate, meaning it has five leaves or leaflets.

When the buckeyes are young, the saplings are only about a foot tall or sometimes even less. The little trees have a few branches on them already, spreading out to look a lot like the prongs of ginseng.

A common ginseng mis-identification culprit: Ohio buckeye
A common ginseng mis-identification culprit: Ohio buckeye

How to tell the difference

Although the leaves of buckeye are similar to ginseng, there’s some telling differences. At first glance they look alike. But look closer. American ginseng leaves are also palmate, but the two lower leaves are a lot smaller than the other three leaves. The ginseng in the photo is just finished unfurling so the leaves are still a little wrinkled. They’ll smooth out in a day or two.

On each palmate leaf, ginseng's lower two leaves are much smaller than the other three.
On each palmate leaf, ginseng’s lower two leaves are much smaller than the other three.

Aside from the size of the two lower leaves, the stems to each of ginseng’s prongs all meet up at the exact same spot on the stem. Not so with the buckeye. The branches (they’re not prongs) attach to the trunk (it’s not necessarily a stem, even if it is still small like one) at various points.

And a third way to tell is to examine the nature of the stem/trunk. Ginseng stems are not woody. Buckeye stems are. If you are careful, you could dig up both plants to take a look at the roots too. Buckeye roots resemble small tree roots (larger main roots with smaller roots attached) and they’re tough and covered with a sort of bark.

Ginseng roots have one main root, sometimes branched, but it does not have a bark sort of coating. The buckeye stem/trunk never dies back once it has begun growing. Ginseng stems die back every year and the root sends up a new one each spring. In fact, next year’s bud is already in place and waiting at the base of the ginseng stem. Buckeye will not have this bud.

Hands-on Get acquainted with Buckeye

Join me at the Nursery and Habitat Garden on May 6 if you’d like to get up close and personal to both ginseng and the look-alikes like buckeye. The “Pot 10 Keep 1” event will be going on and if you help me out by potting up ten ginseng seedlings for me, you’ll get to keep one to bring home. If you pot up a hundred, you’ll get to keep ten.

Or you can buy however many you want for $5/ea.

While you’re here you can walk the trails of my Ginseng Habitat Garden and learn to tell the difference between the look-alikes and the ginseng. The garden itself is not large and the trails are not long. It’s an accurate example of what the average habitat area looks like here, except this one has been restored. Years ago this land was logged, and this is one of the spots that is just now getting back close to habitable for the shade-loving plants like ginseng.

It’s not yet ideal, but close enough to work with.

You can get ideas for how to do the same thing on your own property and create a little sanctuary or lots of little sanctuaries as I’ve been doing.

How to Sign Up

Join the mailing list for this event so I can send you the address and update you on schedule changes. If it rains much the day before or the day of, we’ll have to reschedule. The garden is across the creek and if it’s high then it’s too hazardous to walk across it.

It’s completely free to participate! The garden is only open by appointment during spring, summer, and fall. During events like this one, I’ll be out there already, so no appointment necessary. All visitors are required to sign a hold-harmless liability waiver. Because nature is what it is. There are rocks, ticks, snakes, and treacherous footing all around and I can’t guarantee you won’t fall while crossing the creek or encounter some of our less friendly wildlife. But I can guarantee an experience hard to find elsewhere.

Sign up to join me on Potting Day




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Want to Read More?

Here on the website I have a lot of information about ginseng and the look-alikes. Here’s a good starting point: Ginseng Articles and Headlines.

Since so many people have a hard time telling the difference between ginseng and plants like buckeye, I wrote a small book dedicated to the main look-alikes. It’s purposefully short and sweet. You can pick it up from Amazon in both ebook or paperback:

Ginseng Seedlings Coming Up Early in Arkansas

There are ginseng seedlings coming up early this year, at least in Yellville, Arkansas. I haven’t seen any here at Wild Ozark, yet, but a few hours to the east, my friend Suzanne is reporting that hers are all coming up already. Here’s a pic she sent this morning.

Ginseng seedlings coming up early in Yellville
Ginseng Seedling in Yellville

I’ve never had them come up before bloodroot and Suzanne reports that her bloodroot hasn’t bloomed yet, either. How about any of you out there? Have you noticed your ginseng seedlings coming up early too? Let us know and send pics if you want!

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I’ll have seedlings at the Huntsville farmer’s market and possibly the Fayetteville market beginning in May. This year I’ll also try shipping them, but if the first attempts result in damaged or unhealthy plants, only local pickup will be available. I’ll refund any damaged orders.

Buy your first year ginseng seedlings from Wild Ozark

Ginseng in spring, a little more unfurled by the end of the day.

When Does Ginseng Come Up? 2018 Ginseng Unfurling Watch

When does ginseng come up?

It’s always around this time of year when people start wondering. When does ginseng come up? Usually that happens here at Wild Ozark from mid- to late-April. Today is March 14, 2018. This is the page where I’ll post the photos of our wild-simulated and true wild ginseng unfurling as it begins the growing season of 2018.

I’ll have ginseng seedlings with me at the farmer’s market as soon as they’re ready to be potted. Watch the schedule calendar to know when I’ll be where and with what.

Check back here in April for the ginseng unfurling, or add this page to your feed readers. In the meantime, I’ll be posting pictures of the other native plants of Wild Ozark as they start to bloom. Those will be posted on the 2018 Spring Awakening Watch page.

Seedlings Unfurling

042218 – The first year seedlings began sporadically unfurling over the past few days. None of the older plants are up yet.

Products of Wild Ozark's nature farming.

What is Nature Farming? What does a Nature Farmer Grow?

What I mean by ‘Nature Farming’ is not the same as ‘natural farming’, ‘organic farming’, or ‘natural farming methods’. Explanations for all of these things come up when you do a search online for ‘nature farming’. But nothing turns up for true nature farming. Hopefully this post will show up in the search engine results list soon.

I am literally farming nature.

I’m not doing conventional farming using natural techniques, or practicing organic or permaculture farming (although where I do actually grow things on purpose, I do adhere to those principles).

The more people who interact with my blog, the more quickly it’ll turn up in searches online. Will you help me get it noticed by sharing this post?

Wild Ozark is a Nature Farm. They are literally farming nature. Click To Tweet

 

What I’m farming is already present there in nature.

For the most part, the plants I use in my business already grow here naturally. I encourage some of them to multiply by dividing or transplanting or seeding them in more areas, but the habitats to support them already exist here. No tilling involved, though sometimes I do make nursery beds by creating rock wall terraces on the hillsides.

The terraces are in the deep shade under trees with the kinds of leaves that make good mulch for ginseng. They keep the pots from washing away during rains and when the creek floods, provides easy access for seedlings when I need to fill orders, and is a staging/holding area for the items I bring with me to market.

Things I keep in my nature farming nursery beds. A ginseng habitat in a pot! This one includes a 3-year old American ginseng with a handful of companions for $75. Available only for local pickup at the nursery, or the Rogers Downtown Farmers Market on Saturdays or the Huntsville Farmers Market on Tuesdays. Reserve in advance to make sure I have one with me by emailing madison@wildozark.com.
A ginseng habitat in a pot! This one includes a 3-year old American ginseng with a handful of companions for $75. Available only for local pickup at the nursery, or the farmers market booth (check schedule). Reserve in advance to make sure I have one with me by emailing [email protected] Bare root collections can be shipped in fall.

American ginseng seedlings are the main things that use the terraced beds. I transplant the seedlings to the other habitats and I also put them in pots sell them at market. When it’s not growing season, I sell them as dormant, bare root plants. Wild Ozark is the only certified ginseng nursery in Arkansas. Wild ginseng lives here naturally, and I’ve purchased seeds to grow even more of it. I keep the wild populations separate from the wild-simulated.

When I say ‘wild-simulated’ that means I’m growing the ginseng in the same way it would grow in the wild. All I do is plant the seed in a space where it can flourish. I do have one small area set aside as a teaching environment. It’s my Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden. It’s not quite a natural area yet, because it is still recovering from being logged many years ago. As the trees get bigger it will return to a natural dense shade forested habitat.

In addition to the ginseng seedlings and habitat pots, I also keep many of the companions in propagation beds so I can easily transplant them to pots and sell them, or harvest bare root plants for dormant shipping. Those plants include goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh, blue cohosh, a variety of ferns, spicebush plants, pawpaw tree seedlings, and doll’s eyes. I also keep some of my other favorites like trillium, Dutchman’s breeches, and trout lilies, too.

Stewardship of Mother Nature versus Stewardship by Me

The Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden is not left completely to nature because I’m taking out things like honeysuckle and wild roses. I’m thinning some of the trees I don’t want there to favor some of the ones I do. The reason for that is to speed up the process that will make it a better habitat for the American ginseng and the companion plants that also grow in the same sort of environment. While the rest of Wild Ozark is pretty much left up to the stewardship of Mother Nature, this demonstration garden is being tended by me.

While the garden isn’t an ideal environment yet for the ginseng, it will eventually be so and the plants are doing well enough in the meantime. My process of doing this is helpful to others who want to do the same thing on their own property. Additionally, and the main reason I chose this spot, is because it is in a location close to the front gate and I don’t mind sharing that location with visitors.

Nature Farming means Harvesting Nature

I harvest things provided by nature. Things naturally growing, dropped to the ground, or dried on the stem. Wildcrafting is the gathering of wild plants. I’ll make ointments or extracts and teas from the medicinal plants. Some of them I’ll sell, and some of them I keep for our own household use. The parts I gather include fruits (persimmons, pawpaw), flowers (echinacea and beebalm), berries (elderberries, spicebush berries, raspberry, blackberry, etc.), seeds (lobelia), nuts (hickory, acorns), stems (witch hazel) or roots (ginseng, goldenseal).

 

Using Nature Farming Products to Create Art

So here’s where my nature farm departs from what most people normally think of when they think ‘farming’. The bulk of what Wild Ozark produces is botanical items most people barely notice. Usually it’s lying on the ground in the process of decomposing so it can return to the soil. Sticks, vines, leaves, bits of bark that fell from a tree… all treasures to me.

These harvests include things I use in my arts and crafts, like mosses and lichens and bark. These are things I simply pick up and put in my bucket during my morning walks.

A bucket full of nature farming produce. Some botanicals from the last gathering foray.

I use all of these things to create my Forest Folk, Fairy Houses, and Fairy Gardens. These are very popular and I even hold workshops on how to make these things so anyone can learn how a bit of nature farming can lead to beautiful Nature Art. I sell the small ferns for fairy gardens, bags of moss and preserved leaves, too. You can see where I’ve used twigs, acorns, leaves, dried grass, moss and small ferns in the following photos.

Bark from the Shagbark Hickory

One of our Nature Farm harvests is the bark of a certain tree. Burnt Kettle, my husband’s company, uses the bark from Shagbark hickories to make a delicious syrup. These trees grown naturally all around here.

Eventually we’ll harvest the wood from certain trees for my husband’s woodworking projects. He needs a bandsaw and sawmill to make boards from the abundant cedars that grow here.

Indirect Harvests from my Nature Farm

Art, photography, stories and workshops. Being around nature all of the time inspires me to write, draw, and take photos. I love sharing what I learn and enjoy with others, so I’m always happy to be contacted about doing workshops on topics like nature journaling, ginseng growing or habitat identification, and creating nature art. I’m not an expert on photography, so I’ll leave workshops on that to the ones that are. The outstanding photos from the ones I take are available for sale but I don’t have most of them listed at the shop yet.

Thanks for visiting with Wild Ozark website and taking the time to read about what I do here. Come by and visit the Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden if you’re in the area during spring and summer or come by the market booth to see the Forest Folk and Fairy Gardens! The market schedule will be kept current so you’ll know where I’ll be and when, but you can always email in advance if you like. Click here to get all of my contact information.

Armadillo Dilemma: To Kill or Not to Kill

Armadillo hide-out.
Armadillo hide-out.

So last summer I noticed an armadillo had 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. I wrote this post while trying to decide what to do the situation. I thought it would be a good time now to update and let everyone know the outcome.

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– maybe. There are some who say all ginseng is the same, and some (like me) who believe there are local cultivars for each of the native regions… if those cultivars haven’t been diluted out of existence by genetic pollution from years of seeds being planted sourced from outside sources. Here’s a link for more reading on that: http://www.wildginsengconservation.com/GeneticPollution.html.

Anyway, back to the armadillo. The critter isn’t eating the ginseng, but the grubs and 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 tend to eat armadillos, be sure to cook the meat thoroughly. There have been cases of it caught from undercooked armadillo meat.

What’s this about leprosy??

Our nine-banded Armadillos are the only mammal that can host the leprosy bacteria that has plagued humans for centuries. They’re used to study the disease in laboratories. I once turned down what might have been a very interesting lab job at Carville, Louisiana where leprosy is studied on the campus of what used to be the last remaining Leper’s Colony in the United States. The laboratory has since moved to nearby Baton Rouge.

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.

Update 2018: This past summer we had the largest invasion of japanese beetles I’ve ever seen here. I decided to leave the armadillo alone. Although many areas were uprooted and the ground was turned up, I did not notice a significant amount of loss of seedlings or mature plants. That armadillo probably ate more than its weight in japanese beetle grubs, though, and for that I am thankful. And willing to sacrifice a few plants.

Madison Woods is an author, artist, and Paleo Paint maker living
with her husband in northwest Arkansas far off the beaten path. She uses Ozark pigments to create her paintings.

To see her paintings click here.

Contact Info:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @wildozark
Facebook: @wildozark

How Ginseng Stewardship Also Benefits the Landowner

Someone asked me yesterday about how ginseng stewardship benefits the landowner. It stumped me at first, because I’d never considered it from that angle.

Ginseng unfurling in spring, from article on ginseng stewardship.
Ginseng unfurling in spring.

What is Stewardship?

To steward something is to manage or take care of something. The short answer to this post’s question is yes. Stewardship benefits the landowner, especially if they want to have a long-term relationship with ginseng.

The word “relationship” is key to the true meaning of that answer, as you’ll begin to understand when I describe what I consider to be ginseng stewardship, farther down the page.

Obviously, it benefits the ginseng for someone to think of it as a long-term resident and not just as a root occupying space in their forest for the next 5-10 years.

How Does Ginseng Stewardship “Work”?

In this example, I’m talking about wild-simulated ginseng, and not ginseng grown as a woodland crop that is tended in the way a gardener tends vegetables. The wild-simulated ginseng will generally be left to fend for itself once the seed is planted.

Stewardship comes into play the moment you decide to give it, and the future generations of it, space in the forest to call home – not just a 5-year lease on a plot of ground in the woods to be terminated en masse at will.

The Wild Ozark Stewardship Plan

If a landowner begins planting ginseng in year 1, then plants every year thereafter, in 7-10 years it would be a good time to start digging roots. It’s legal in 5, but the roots are still small then.

Let’s just say you wait 10 years and each year you planted seeds. By the time year 10 rolls around, the ones you planted for the first 7 years will be flowering and producing seeds and offspring (they begin reproducing in year 3).

If you did this without fail each year, barring a disaster of some sort, you’d have quite a lot of ginseng growing and reproducing.

Now when you harvest in year 10, only take ½ or less of each colony’s reproducing adult plants. Each colony should have at least 100 plants total (of mixed ages).

Replant the seeds from the ones you harvest. Done in this way you will always have ginseng for the rest of your life and the lives of your children and your grandchildren because the colonies would be self-sustaining and taking your percentage won’t cause them to decline until all you have is a few.

Ginseng in spring, a little more unfurled by the end of the day, from article on ginseng stewardship.
Ginseng in spring, a little more unfurled by the end of the day.

Here on our property, the suitable spots aren’t large enough to plant full acres worth. Each spot is a little microclimate of perfect conditions, and the largest area like this is only a few thousand square feet at most.

Plant Where You Can

So we plant these pockets as we find them, if there isn’t already ginseng on them (it’s my attempt to avoid genetic pollution). We haven’t started harvesting our own roots yet; we’re still on the 10-year plan and only dig a few for personal use.

The ones we planted several years ago are now reproducing and we’re replanting those seeds in the same colonies and in a few more years those spots will all be ready for us to start harvesting a percentage of the reproducing plants.

Most of our forests had been logged at some point before we bought it and so they’re only just now beginning to recover and create stands suitable for ginseng again.

There are studies, (here’s a link to the abstract of one), that shows delaying harvest only a couple of weeks and taking only a certain percentage will lead to sustainability. I’ve read before that taking even 50% of the adult plants in a colony will not do it harm the sustainability of the colony if the seeds from those plants are planted back at the time of harvest in the same colony space.

Stewardship also means recreating natural habitats where possible. In some of the logged areas, I’m trying to keep the thorns and brush out and am planting spicebush and pawpaws instead.

The Setbacks that Can (and Do) Occur

Besides poaching, nature takes some of the plants. You’ll have to take into consideration the deer and poaching and other animal predation, or severe weather conditions that can take out a percentage of your colony.

One year we had a pretty bad ice storm that took out the tops and felled of a lot of trees. In one of our largest good habitat areas this destroyed the colonies because it let in too much sunlight. Then the poison ivy and underbrush choked it all out.

This particular habitat consisted of acres, actually, and not just little pockets. It was a heartfelt loss.

That ice storm would need to be factored in before deciding how many plants the colony could afford to lose in harvest. In this case it was none.

3 prong ginseng unfurling, from article on ginseng stewardship
3 prong ginseng unfurling

What is Not the Kind of Stewardship I Meant

People can and do plant and dig all of the mature plants from the beds they’ve established. And then replant, just like any other crop. Just like growing a tree farm that is clear-cut and replanted.

This treats it more as an agricultural product, which just isn’t how I want to interact with our forests. In the strictest sense of the definition, this is still “stewardship”.

But that isn’t the kind of stewardship I meant. What I had in mind was more… natural, I guess? There’s a word for it, I can’t think of it right now, though. I just prefer a more natural approach…

Ah-ha! The word is a phrase: NATURE FARMING. It’s also “wild-simulated”.

What I want is to know that at least some of the ginseng out there is finding a permanent home.

That is what I mean about stewardship. It’s a win-win strategy. Landowner gives to ginseng space to live a natural life. The ginseng gives to the landowner in the form of truly naturally grown, potent, medicine from the Earth.

Not only that, in natural areas there are entire ecosystems to observe and learn from.

I like knowing that ginseng is still out there somewhere enjoying the shade of the old trees. That they enjoy the company of their green-friend companion plants. Maybe this is a bit too woo-woo for some of you.

But I like knowing that out there somewhere, people are respecting the way this plant once grew. That those with wilderness are helping little pockets of ginseng find a permanent place on their land.

And I know a lot of you do it without thinking about it. I just want you to know that I thank you for it.

Here’s a page with links to a lot of other articles about ginseng here on my blog and out in the internet.

In Summary

In the end, stewardship does serve the person AND it serves the thing being “stewarded”.

I suppose, if money is the bottom line, this may sound like bad business.

For Wild Ozark, though, it’s not just about the money.

It’s about stepping out of an anthropocentric worldview.

It’s about having a mutually beneficial relationship with the land.


 

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Ginseng Jelly – A Delicious Wild Ozark Luxury Product

Oh, my … GINSENG JELLY!

I love medicinal herbs, especially those that grow right here at home, and most especially ginseng. This year’s ginseng jelly comes in two varieties:

  • Ginseng Gold (4-oz, $25)
  • Ginseng/Apple (8-oz, $25) Soft-set: thicker than syrup, thinner than jelly

Both are delicious, but you’ll get more of the ginseng active ingredients from the Gold. Prices do not include shipping.

Email me for a PayPal invoice and let me know your address so I can give you the quote on shipping: [email protected]

Ginseng is a Medicinal Herb

This jelly is intended for adults only. A teaspoon a day is plenty enough to experience the benefit.

 

UPDATE 2017, made a fresh batch of jelly for this year: it is delicious and potent!!

Email me if you’d like to try it.  [email protected]

Making ginseng jelly- Getting ready to chop the ginseng roots after soaking them for a couple of hours.
Getting ready to chop the ginseng roots after soaking them for a couple of hours.

The taste

I tasted the decoction (broth) this morning after it soaked overnight and the flavor is bitter with a sweet follow. This is exactly how the roots taste when chewed.

The jelly is sweet, lightly flavored with a very slight bitter finish. Some people don’t taste the bitter at all, but I do. The point with this product isn’t so much to use it as a confection, but as a tonic.

My favorite way to use it is on my morning slice of toast. That’s all you need – a teaspoon a day. If you take it daily, then the little jar won’t last very long. This is a good thing, as ginseng shouldn’t be used on a daily basis for more than a month or two at a time.

Medicinal Virtues

Ginseng has been in use as a medicinal plant for thousands of years. American ginseng was first used by the Native Americans but became popular in China during the 1700’s.

In recent years scientists have become more interested in the ways ginseng works and have produced several studies.

Here’s an article about the effects of ginseng.

This one offers a handy chart: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3103855/figure/F3/

And, here’s an article about some of the side effects of ginseng and possible drug interactions. You should always do research before using herbal remedies, and do more than just read the links on mine or any other one site.

This jelly contains a broth made with American ginseng root. A large portion, if not most, of the medicinal  part of ginseng is water soluble, so it will be in this jelly.

Don’t Wait too Long!

Look for Wild Ozark American Ginseng Jelly at the Nature Shop and at our market booth this year!

It’s pretty and tastes wonderful!

Ginseng and Blackberry Jelly, the test batch. I'm out of this one. Right now I have "Ginseng Gold", which is just ginseng, and "Ginseng/Apple". Both are $25, but with the Ginseng/Apple you get twice the volume.
“Ginseng Gold”, which is just ginseng, and “Ginseng/Apple”. Both are $25, but with the Ginseng/Apple you get twice the volume.

Email me at madison(at)wildozark(dot)com if you want some.

13 Questions About Ginseng

Caring For, Finding, Growing, Digging and Selling Ginseng – These are Wild Ozark’s most often asked questions about ginseng. I’m always learning more about this fascinating plant, so if you have opposing information please post in the comments. If you have other questions, post those too!

Frequently Asked Questions About Ginseng

1. Why can’t I find ginseng?

Most often the answer turns out to be that the person was looking in the wrong kinds of places. Once the right habitat was discovered, then the problem is that the plant is just very hard to spot.

Sometimes, even if the habitat is correct, the problem is that there just isn’t any or very many ginseng plants growing there. It is often completely harvested by poachers or overharvested by previous land-owners or diggers.

At least when the right habitat is found, you can always plant some and start a new patch.

  • For a more in depth response to this question, click here.

2. Can I dig in one state and sell in another?

At least in Arkansas, not without a dealer’s license. Here’s a quote from the Arkansas State Plant Board ginseng regulations:

1. Any person, business, or corporation who buys wild or artificially propagated American Ginseng for sale across state lines shall be termed a dealer by intent of Act 774 of 1985, and shall obtain a Ginseng Dealer License and a Certificate of Legal Taking from the Arkansas State Plant Board.

3. When should you plant ginseng?

In late fall, before the ground begins to freeze. Out here (northwest Arkansas) the ground never freezes solid long, so I’d also plant during winter on days that aren’t too cold. Usually, though, I like to have all the seeds planted by end of October.

4. Where do I sell my ginseng?

Check around September on the windows of stores in the small towns of your area. Buyers will often post notices to say when they’ll be coming to town. You can also check the classifieds of your electric coop magazine (if you get those out there). Fur buyers will often buy ginseng or know of ginseng buyers in the area. I’ve seen notices posted in the classified section of our local newspaper before, too.

Wild Ozark runs a page each year for diggers and sellers to post information for each other in the comments. You might be able to find a buyer by posting a comment of your own. Here’s this year’s page: 2017 Ginseng Prices Page

5. Finding ginseng

You can find ginseng in deep forests on north, west, or east facing slopes. It helps a lot to know the companion plants that grow in the same areas ginseng grows: black cohosh, bloodroot, doll’s eyes, maidenhair fern, Christmas fern, pawpaw, wild ginger. These plants are easier to spot than the ginseng itself. If you’re trying to find a suitable site for growing your own, it’s good to plant in places these plants grow if the site has sufficient shade.

6. Ginseng seed sources, and how long does it take to ginseng to grow from seed

To buy seed, I suggest you get it from as local a source as possible. We get ours from Ozark Mountain Ginseng in Thayer, MO. We’re not in the same state, but we are both located in the Ozarks, at least. His seedstock aren’t originally from the Ozarks, either, but the plants that grow from them look just like the ones that grow wild here.

Aside from that, seeds and plants produced locally are adapted to your local conditions and will more easily thrive.

The topic of seed sourcing is one of the most debated questions about ginseng. Some believe a ginseng is a ginseng is a ginseng and that there is no difference between any of them. I believe there are distince local genotypes.

I’ve heard that Wisconsin seeds do just fine here in the Ozarks, but I am concerned about genetic pollution and try to minimize the difference between the cultivars with my introduced seeds. That’s why I try to get a genotype of ginseng that is at least similar to the wild type we have here in the Ozarks. I believe Ozark Since it’s illegal to buy/sell/collect/trade wild ginseng seeds, this is the best I can do.

How Long from Seed to Plant?

Ginseng produces a berry in summer. In the berry there are two seeds. When the berry falls to the ground it takes a full year of sitting there before it sprouts the second spring after falling. When you buy seeds they’ll be stratified (usually). This means the seed has already waited the first year (usually outside buried in a bed or bucket of sand) and will be ready to sprout the spring after you plant it.

7. Ginseng companion trees

The trees that ginseng grows best under around here is a mix of the following: oak, hickory, maple, pawpaw, dogwood, redbud, beech and poplar.

8. What happens when ginseng gets too much sunlight?

Too much sun will bleach out the leaves making them turn whitish. Eventually the plant will die in these conditions but if the problem is confined to a small area, you can put up some shade cloth until the tree canopy closes in. If this is a problem in a large area, then the ground is probably too dry there and the site is not suitable for ginseng to begin with.

9. How to tell the difference between poison oak/ivy/Virginia creeper and ginseng?

To the uninitiated, ginseng looks a lot like a few other plants. It’s most often confused with poison oak/ivy during first year growth because at that time ginseng only has 3 leaves. To tell the difference between ginseng and Virginia creeper, look at the leaves. Ginseng always has 2 tiny leaves and 3 larger ones (after the first year). All of Virginia creeper’s leaves are the same size.

Phrased a little differently, this is one of THE most often asked questions about ginseng: “Is this ginseng?”

People send me photos all the time to ask me that, and I don’t mind helping out when I can. 99% of the time, the photo is of one of the common look-alikes and not ginseng. Every once in a long while, I’ll actually get a photo of the real thing and it’s exciting to be able to confirm that for the seeker.

Check out my book about the most common look alikes. The cover is a quick-reference id key to plants often confused with ginseng.

10. When does ginseng come up in spring?

It comes up here in northwest Arkansas in mid-April. Some years it will come up later, like it did this year (2017). It was May before they unfurled because the weather in spring was cold later and very wet.

Sometimes a plant skips a year and will remain dormant until the following spring. Older plants sometimes stay dormant for more than a year or two at a time.

11. Does drought kill ginseng?

If the summers are too dry, even if it’s growing in deep shade, sometimes ginseng will die back and go dormant until the following year when conditions improve.

12. Does ginseng still grow wild?

Yes, although many diggers have carried seeds in their pockets and planted while digging, so it’s impossible to know which is true wild and which is virtually wild. This is most likely the case everywhere ginseng is native.

That leads to another of the frequent questions about ginseng: What is the difference between wild and wild-simulated? It’s only how the seed was placed. If a person put the seed on the ground (or in it), then it’s wild-simulated. If nature caused the seed to make contact with the ground, then it’s wild.

But then what about the offspring of wild-simulated that fall naturally? Well, it gets a lot trickier then, doesn’t it? I’d still call that wild-simulated, since it came from a human-seeded plant. In all other respects, though, it’s wild and will sell as a wild root (as will the other wild-simulated plants that were human-seeded).

13. Does breaking the tops off of ginseng hurt it? Will it come back next year?

Short answer: Not too much, and Maybe.

Although I’m sure having the tops broken off every year may not be good for the ginseng, if you do it late in the season after the berries have matured, it has some benefits. The main reason people do this is to “hide” the root from diggers. It would be better that the plant had the extra time with leaves to help restore energy to the root, but if poachers are an issue, it’s better for the plant than being harvested.

Sometimes deer eat the tops off of ginseng , and sometimes I harvest only the leaves. But I’ve noticed that when a plant is browsed or harvested of its leaves, it has a tendency to go dormant the following year. Then it comes back the next one. I try to not harvest leaves from the same plant two years in a row just so the plant has time to fully recuperate. But if there are many poachers in the woods any given year, I would rather top them all than lose them all.

Photo to accompany my article "Questions About Ginseng". Poster available from the Wild Ozark shop at RedBubble.
Poster and other options available from RedBubble.

Have questions about ginseng? Leave a comment and if I don’t know the answer I’ll try to find an answer.

Nature Drawing in Progress: American ginseng in October

Two years ago I made a nature drawing of American ginseng in October, with yellowing leaves against the dark backdrop of the Wild Ozark forest.

Repeating the Same Nature Drawing

Since that time I’ve learned a little more about certain techniques I can use with my pencils, specifically blending, and so I wanted to re-draw the picture so I can enter it into a contest.

Usually I like to scan each step as I go along with a drawing, but for this one I forgot. This one picks up at the blending of the background stage.

Background First

You can see in the image that most of the drawing hasn’t been blended, only the very bottom part.

Although I have some color on the leaves and plant itself, I have barely begun on that part of it and have a lot more color layers to add before blending for that part begins.

Nature Drawing by Madison Woods. Background stage: Beginning the blending.
Background stage: Beginning the blending.

 

 

 

Needs More Detail

Once I finished blending the ground background, I decided I wanted to add some more form to the surroundings. So I added a christmas fern, one of ginseng’s habitat companions. Now it balances out the empty woods surrounding the main object.

Looking at it from Different Perspectives

When I scan each step, I’m doing more than just recording a step in the process.

When I look at the picture in another format, like on the computer or the small screen of my phone, I can see things I didn’t see in the original.

The first image I posted showed me that the background was too empty.

The next one showed me where I have spaces that are too light or need *something*.

"Ginseng in October", a nature drawing in progress. Ground floor background blended.
Ground floor background blended.

At the base of the fern and on the lower levels of the background above the floor, it needs to be darker and I’d like some vague suggestions of more fern to the left.

Here it is again, with the background blended, after I added darker lower levels and a bent fern frond to the left.

Background finished. "Ginseng in October" nature drawing in progress.
Background finished. “Ginseng in October” nature drawing in progress.

Foreground Next

The next step will be the dried leaves at the bottom. Those two dead leaves are the foreground. Once I get those done, I’ll start working on the ginseng plant.

Halfway There

Here it is again with the dead leaves done, and the background finished. I’ve just begun working on the ginseng now.

Ginseng in October, in progress

I really like drawing autumn and winter leaves. Here’s the dead leaves, closer:

Zoomed in on the dead leaves.

Signing off for today. So far, this has been several days of work. Today was the first day I spent the entire day on it, though.

Tomorrow I should be able to get this wrapped up and I’ll post the finished scan …

And here’s the finished drawing:

Ginseng in October by Madison Woods. Prints available.

The first drawing

I didn’t know about blending at all yet when I drew this first one. But that really didn’t matter at the time to me, because I drew it in situ, and it was only meant to be a journal entry. It was late in the afternoon and dark in the woods, and finding the plant to begin with was unexpected.

ginseng in october
Ginseng in October, the nature journal entry

I’m glad I have it now to go by, since I didn’t get any photos of the plant that year. Now I can’t find the same plant at all.

The Blending Process

The blending takes a long time. It’s tedious and it makes my arm and eyes hurt if I don’t take plenty breaks. So just finishing the background alone could take several days of steady work at blending.

I’m not sure if there’s an easier way to do this step or not. I saw on one tutorial video that the artist used mineral spirits. Well, I tried that and it didn’t blend very well at all. Perhaps we used different brands of pencils.

The Tools

I use Prismacolor. The only set I have right now is the Premier Soft Core and a colorless blending pencil. I need a set of the VeriThin, but that will have to wait until after the taxes get paid for this year.

The paper I’m using is a water-color paper for Epson printers. It comes in very large sheets that I have to cut down to size. Our printer does fine work for smaller art prints, like those I use on my note cards. And this is archival quality acid free paper. However, for larger than 5 x 7 prints, and especially those I sell as “art”,  I use Scott’s Frame and Art (Scott Imaging)  in Fayetteville.

Stay Tuned

I’ll post updates to the work as I make progress. Let me know if you have any tips!

ETA is the end of the week because there’s a deadline involved for the contest I want to enter.

If you’d like a print, stop in and see me at the Downtown Rogers Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, now open year-round!

Here’s their FB page and ours:

How to Find Ginseng? First look for the right habitat.

Want to know how to find ginseng? Look for the right habitat. The easiest way to do that is to look for companion plants. If you’re looking for information about WHEN you can plant ginseng, then this article might be more helpful: When Can You Plant Ginseng.


SPRING Today is March 20 and it’s either the first day of spring or nearly time for equinox. Here at Wild Ozark, not too much is blooming in the ginseng habitats yet. However, it’s still a good time of year to look around and find the woodlands most likely right for planting, growing, or stewarding wild American ginseng.

It’s easy to see where the hillsides stay shady. Look for the carpet moss and Christmas ferns. Stay away from woods that are full of cat briers or wild rose unless you’re in the mood to do a lot of work keeping them cut back until the forest canopy blocks the light more.

Things you’ll soon see in the ginseng habitats include blooms of the following flowers: Cutleaf toothwort, Bloodroot, Trillium, Trout Lily, and Spicebush. Where these flowers bloom it’s likely to be good ground for ginseng.

Wild ginseng will start unfurling here after the bloodroot blooms. Usually I’ll find seedlings unfurling sometime around mid-April. This year a friend of mine has reported hers are already starting to rise and it’s not even end of March yet. That’s really early. There’s still time to plant bare-root seedlings if you have them or seeds if you can do it without damaging the already sprouted ones. Soon it’ll be time to plant out transplants or find places to hold them in the woods until fall.

I may have seedlings at the Huntsville (AR) farmer’s market after the first half of May. This depends on whether or not I’ll have someone to operate the booth for me.

First and second year seedlings can be ordered by email, but only for local pickups. We’ll meet you at the Kingston Square for 5 or more plants ordered, or you can come out to the nursery for quantities less than 5 plants. (or you can come out to the nursery if you just want to see the habitat garden).

FALL September 20 2017 – It’s full-swing harvest season now, and plenty of you are out in the woods looking for ginseng.

I hope you’re either on your own property or have permission from the landowner, wherever you are.

In some of the locations where ginseng is native, the berries are red and this makes spotting the plant from a distance a little easier. The plants begin to take on a yellowish color, too, which is another visual aid.

However, in other locations, plants may already be past the fruiting stage with only a red berry clinging here and there. Although the plants may be yellowing, they may already have dropped some leaves or bugs have eaten some of them, making it harder to know if the plant you see is actually ginseng.

Be good stewards

A short version summarizing my idea of sustainable harvest plan is farther down on this page.

Many people are asking where exactly can they find or go to dig ginseng.  If you’re asking that question, you probably won’t like the answer.

Please Note

Legal season for digging for ginseng is Sept. 1 through Dec. 1. If you have the proper habitat, I encourage you to plant wild-simulated ginseng using seeds from as local as possible a source. We usually plant our seeds in fall before it gets too cold.

How to Find Ginseng?

First look for the right habitat. Look for the kinds of places it likes to grow.

Where does ginseng grow?

Ginseng grows in moist deciduous forests of eastern North America, but only in locations that provide the perfect combination of deep shade, moist loamy soil, and the right mix of trees. It loves the north-facing slopes, but also grows on east, west, and rarely on south-facing slopes. Most often it likes the lower third of a slope, generally not the mountain tops. Here’s a map from the USDA (the map doesn’t seem to be working at the moment, but the link is correct) that shows where it grows in the United States.

If you want to know if your state allows the harvest of ginseng, you can check to see if it’s on the map here. If not, then there are no regulations, which often means there is no legal way to do it. You’d have to contact the Plant Board or your local USDA office to ask more questions.

Where EXACTLY can I find ginseng?

You probably won’t like the answer. No one is going to tell you where you can go to find a specific patch of ginseng. The reason why is because if someone knows the plant well enough to tell you where it is, they’ll also know it’s endangered and easily exterminated from a single site. That person usually is either digging and maintaining the patch for themselves, or is protecting/stewarding the site so it can continue to thrive.

If you don’t have property of your own with suitable habitat, or know someone else with the proper conditions, you probably won’t have anywhere to dig or grow. Some states might allow digging on public lands, but many don’t. Arkansas does not.

So if you are someone who just became interested in digging some ‘sang to make some money from the roots, you’re most likely out of luck.

However, if:

  • you have land (your own or a friend’s) & you want to know if ginseng is present or could be
  • you’re looking to buy property and want to know if it contains good habitat
  • you’re working with others to build a sanctuary

Then the rest of this post might be very helpful to you.

Keep an eye on my 2017 Ginseng Prices page if you want to stay abreast of current digger/dealer prices. You can read the 2016 price watch here.

Start Broad – Look for the Ginseng Indicator Plants

If you want to know how to find ginseng, first learn to find proper habitat.

Increase your odds

Check the USDA map to see if ginseng grows, or has ever grown, in the area of interest. For example, if you live in Arizona, it is highly unlikely that you will ever successfully grow this plant. If you want to try, then you’ll have to recreate the kind of habitat that supports it.

Shade and moisture

First look for mature trees. The following are present in the areas I’ve found ginseng:

  • maple
  • redbud
  • pawpaw
  • oak
  • hickory
  • poplar
  • dogwood
  • cedar

It needs to NOT be all oak/hickory/cedar/pine. Ginseng will grow on any slope. North-facing is best, but it’ll grow facing any direction if the shade and moisture are right. It is most often right on north-facing slopes. There are sometimes “folds” on south-facing slopes that create mini-habitats on the north-facing inside of the fold.

Found the right forest?

Once you have the right kind of trees and good moisture that comes from the right shade, then look for companion plants.

Companion plants

It’s good to know the companions because ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) can be a difficult plant to spot. If you’re out looking for ginseng, you’ll know to look harder if you’ve already spotted the companions. The plant seems to show itself to some but not to others. I’ve spoken to many people who have never found it on their own even though they stood side-by-side with someone else who could point it out to them. I’m that way when it comes to hunting morel mushrooms. I cannot find them, even if I look exactly in the right kinds of spots. According to people who find them, morels have their own kinds of companion plants (and trees). During spring morel hunts, my friends come back with bags of gathered morels and I stand there empty-handed. Not so with ginseng. I can find that one!

Finding the clues: Ginseng Companion or Indicator Plants

In one of my other posts about ginseng, I talked about choosing the best site to plant. Those tips can also help you find ginseng if you’re hunting it. And here’s a post that might help explain why you’re not finding it. Here’s another page that shows the ginseng plant as a seedling, two-prong, three- and four-prong, if you’d like to see how it looks as it gets more mature.

♥ Ginseng indicator plants, also called companion plants, are those plants, shrubs and trees that like to grow in the same sort of environment as ginseng. They keep the same company because they require the same habitat.

Wild Ozark Resources

  • Here’s a post with photos to answer the question “How does ginseng look in fall?”.
  • Here’s a post where you can see how ginseng looks from spring through late fall on my page Ginseng Through the Seasons.
  • If you like art, you might enjoy my sketch of “Ginseng in May”.
  • For a general post on what a ginseng plant looks like, go here.
  • If you have questions about ginseng that aren’t answered in this post, try my page on Questions About Ginseng.
  • And if you were confounded by look-alikes all season last year and want a little help, check out my latest book “Ginseng Look-Alikes”.

Finding the first ginseng plant

When I first go out to the woods, even in a place I know has ginseng, I have a difficult time spotting the first ginseng plant. They have a way of growing that makes them hard to see, but once you’ve found the first one it’s easier to find more. I think the first one somehow trains the eyes to see that form. It’s like this every time I go out. I have to find one first, then the rest become easier to see.

image of how to find ginseng
See how the ginseng plant has a horizontal form?
Poster available from Wild Ozark's RedBubble shop. https://www.redbubble.com/people/wildozark/works/22874980-american-ginseng?p=poster&finish=semi_gloss&size=large
47″ x 27″ Poster available from Wild Ozark’s RedBubble Shop for $32.66.

If you’re scouting woods for likely places to either plant or find it, here are a few of the companion plants you’ll want to keep an eye out for. They’re much easier to find than ginseng itself. Look for goldenseal, black cohosh, pawpaw trees, American spikenard, virginia snakeroot, bloodroot, blue cohosh and wild ginger.

Photos of the companions

Here’s some of the ones I see most often around here in the Ozarks:


Want More Ginseng or Companion Plant Pictures?

link to ginseng category

There’s lots of photos on this blog if you’d like to just browse around a bit. Click on the “Ginseng Blog Posts” icon to get all of the posts that mention ginseng.


A Note about Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is NOT an indicator plant. In fact, if you see too much of it, it’s an indicator that there is probably too much sunlight in that location.

Poison ivy recently moved in and choked out a good ginseng habitat on our property. Before the ice storm of 2009, there was dense shade in that little holler. During the ice storm many of the trees fell and tops were snapped off, which then let in much more sunlight than had been there prior. And that’s what allowed the poison ivy to grow so densely there. It has taken nearly five years for the forest to recover to a point where the shade has returned to proper density.

Natural Setbacks

The ginseng suffered and much of it died or went dormant because lost trees opened a gap to direct sunlight for too many hours per day. Most of the ginseng companion plants can tolerate more sunlight than ginseng.

Maidenhair and Christmas ferns can tolerate more shade than can ginseng. But the ivy can also tolerate shade and thus it is still there even as the tree’s limbs have stretched to fill in the canopy.

If we avoid more ice storms, it’ll eventually fade back toward the brighter areas and leave the deep shade alone. With a little help from the companions, you’ll be able to find suitable habitat for one of our greatest natural treasures, wild American Ginseng. The knowledge you gain will help you become a better conservationist if you choose to grow your own “virtually wild” ginseng rather than dig the wild.

Practice Ethical Hunting and Harvesting, and Consider Growing Your Own

♥ Ginseng has a legal harvest season. Ethical practices will help the plant to continue in the wild.

Please follow the laws of your state regarding how and when to harvest. For the state of Arkansas, those rules are here (it’s a PDF file). I also go over specific practices to help the plant survive in my book Sustainable Ginseng. You might wonder why someone who conserves the wild ginseng wants to hunt it.

Except when our personal stash is low, when I find wild ginseng (in season), I don’t dig it. I record where I found it and observe the habitat, photograph the plants and environment.

Why I study

I use the information I gather to become more successful at growing it and I share what I’ve learned with my blog and book readers. From the plants I’ve seeded on our property, I also plant the ripe berries and redistribute them to places I want to establish new colonies. (Never gather all of the seeds of a plant, and never dig without planting the seeds.)

To know where to plant, it helps to know the preferred habitat of ginseng. My hope is that you’ll become interested in growing wild-simulated ginseng, and for that you’ll need to know the kinds of places ginseng likes to grow.

♥ Wild-simulated, or virtually wild ginseng, is simply the practice of planting seeds and allowing them to grow naturally.

A Summary of Sustainable Practice for Wild-Simulated

No tilling, no fertilizing, no weeding (except perhaps in the beginning to clear out underbrush). Then in 7-10 years, begin a sustainable plan for harvesting.

That plan would include taking no more than 50% of the seed-bearing plants from each colony, and only a small portion of the oldest plants. Always replant the seeds from those plants in the original area.

This harvest plan would also be what I consider to be a good way to “steward” the wild if you intend to harvest it when you find it.



Other Ginseng Posts You Might Like

ginseng with red berries

If you have questions, please leave a comment or use the Contact link in the menu to get in touch. I’m always happy to help if I can.

If you found this post useful, please share by posting the link to Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social center.

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!

Just a few Photos of Butterflies, Kings River, and a Ginseng

Not enough time to make a decent post lately, so figured I’d at least put up a few of the photos I’ve taken in the past few days of August. Click on them to make them larger.

Ginseng in June

Ginseng in June is still nice and green and has small berries beginning to form. Some of the plants still have flowers, too. Some of them have been browsed by deer and scratched up by wild turkeys. Bugs have taken a few bites here and there out of the leaves.

Although it was a pretty wet spring, I didn’t notice as much of the mealy bug infestations as we normally get, which pleased me. All of the flower stalks so far seem strong and healthy.

It’ll be late July before they begin turning red and that’s when I’ll begin pulling the tops off of most of the older plants.

Ginseng in June

American ginseng in June the Wild Ozark woods.
American ginseng in June the Wild Ozark woods.

Why pull the tops?

Because too many people begin looking for the plants as soon as the berries are ripe, even though the legal season doesn’t open until September.

By taking off the tops, it makes it very difficult to find the plant and dig up the roots.

I won’t throw the leaves away, though. I’ll save them for remedies. The leaves have all the same properties as the roots and it doesn’t kill the plant to pick them.

Do we dig the roots?

We generally don’t harvest the roots except for the ones i use to make or jellies, syrups, and remedies.  Digging the root kills the plant, and our plants are worth more to us in the ground producing offspring.

Eventually, when there are enough mature plants making berries, I’ll harvest the berries for seeds to sell.

If you’re local to Arkansas and want to buy fresh wild American ginseng roots at the retail price of $35/oz when the season opens in September, let me know. I know a few diggers who will supply the roots by digging in an ethical manner. They’ll only dig when there’s an order to fill, and they’ll only be able to dig at most a pound or two, so they can practice sustainable harvesting.

If you’re not local and want fresh or dried roots, you can find out more about my partner-dealers who can ship by visiting this page.

[email protected]

What about the berries?

I’ll only top the plants with ripe berries, and I’ll put the berries on the ground in the same vicinity when I do so.

This way the seeds will grow new plants. But they won’t grow them next year. It takes two years before the seeds of ginseng sprouts. The first year they sit inside the decomposing berry on the ground.

My theory is that the berry is acidic as it decomposes during the first year and this helps to make the seed ready to sprout the following year. And in the meantime the leaves that fall and decompose give them a nice seed bed to sprout in.

Want to see ginseng growing in the woods?

Visit our Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden. You can learn what kind of spot makes a good habitat, see some seedlings and mature American ginseng growing in a natural environment, look at some of the companion plants and learn to tell the difference between ginseng and the look-alikes.

If there are still seedlings available, you can learn to transplant and help me in the nursery. For your effort, you’ll get to take home one seedling free for every five you help me pot up. Participation is not required to come out and look at the habitat, just email me at the address above to make an appointment.

Then when you go back to your own neck of the woods, you can begin restoring some habitats!

Whippoorwill Says “Time to Plant Corn”

Yesterday evening I heard the first whippoorwill of the 2017 season. Rob said he’d heard the first one the night before. And today I “mowed” grass for the first time. But that’s not what you think.

Listen

 

Whippoorwill Says “Time to Plant Corn”

An old-timer around here once told me it’s time to plant corn once the whippoorwill starts singing.

Before there was the internet, there were books that we turned to for references on how or when to do things.

And before the time of easy to obtain books, there was knowledge handed down orally and hands-on taught by parents to children, or grandparents to grandchildren.

Even before that the Native Americans carried on with seasonal agricultural traditions. They watched the moon phases and listened to nature’s clues, like the call of the season’s first whippoorwill.

I like to think perhaps the original Americans taught a little of what they knew to the settlers, but it’s not true for the most part.

Once the missionaries set to the task of “converting the heathens”, troves of Native American agricultural knowledge were lost. Quashed and supplanted with “acceptable” European guidelines for living and making a living, the old knowledge was tossed aside or hidden and eventually forgotten.

Maybe there are a few little residual secrets left. Maybe the concept of knowing it’s time to plant corn when the whippoorwill sings stems from some of that lost knowledge of this country’s original inhabitants.

Season’s First Mow

I mowed grass today for the first time this year. It was part of the beautification project down by the gate and the future/in-progress Wild Ozark Boutique.

Almost certainly that description of my activity has not brought to your mind what actually happens when I mow grass.

It would be more technically correct to say I weedeated.

But even that won’t conjure the right image.

It’s most correct to say I “mowed” the lawn with the weedeater.

That might create the proper vision.

Nature Boutique Beautification Project

Whippoorwill are everywhere out here. This is the site for the Wild Ozark Nature Boutique home station. Lots of work still to do.
The Wild Ozark Nature Boutique spot.

It will be a while before it looks like a “nursery”. I have a vision in mind, but it’s not even close to be there yet. Right now all of the potted plants are in the woods because the only ones potted are the woodland plants.

Across the creek is the Wild Ozark Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden. It’s ready for visitors (by appointment for now) beginning May 1!

Email [email protected] if you’d like to come out. The signage for all the plants isn’t up yet, but if I wait until everything is done, it’ll never open.

There will be plants available to buy, but it’s free to visit the garden and get your eyeballs on real ginseng plants growing in a natural environment.

On May 6, I’m having a “Pot 10 and Get One Free” day. So if you want to come out and learn how to identify ginseng seedlings and transplant some in exchange for a free one, email me about that too.

 

Earth Day Festival in Bella Vista, AR at the ARC

Saturday April 22, Wild Ozark will bring the Nature Boutique to the Earth Day Festival in Bella Vista (Arkansas) at the Artist Retreat Center otherwise known as “The ARC”.

We’re sorry to say the flood has torn up the driveway and bridges are still overflowing, so we couldn’t go to the festival 🙁

The Wild Ozark Nature Boutique

The Wild Ozark Nature Boutique Wares
A sampling of the Wild Ozark Nature Boutique Wares

I’ll have plants – ginseng and companions, ginseng jams, and ginseng art, along with my books.

Earth Day at Bella Vista Habitat Walk

At 10 a.m. I’ll be leading a nature walk into the woodlands out back to look for ginseng companion plants and possibly a good habitat site.

The Event Page on FB

Show interest at the ARC FB page event listing by clicking whether you’re interested or planning to attend and leave a comment here or on my FB page to let me know if you think you’ll make the habitat walk!

Ginseng Jams & Nature Art Cards on a Chilly Day

I’ll be in the Kingston square with the Wild Ozark booth on Saturday selling ginseng jams, nature art, and fairy gardens.

Ginseng Jams from Wild Ozark can only be purchased from us directly. No mail orders allowed under the AR Cottage Food Law.
The premier ginseng jam, golden in color and sweet, mild flavor. Great on toast or crackers to start your day.

Chilly Day

For weeks it’s been warmer than usual and so I decided I’d set up the Wild Ozark booth on the Kingston square this weekend to take advantage of some of that nice weather.

So of course now it’s going to be ordinary for February weather. Tomorrow’s high is supposed to be around 45*F, which I suppose is still fairly warm for a winter day.

But it’s not the balmy 70 we’ve been seeing.

Bringing out the Ginseng Jams

Anyway, I’m going to take the booth out there anyway. I’ll have ginseng jams, nature art cards, nature drawing prints, a couple of Wild Ozark Fairy Garden terrariums, and a few books.

Rural Fantasy Fiction

One of my books that I won’t have with me is going to be free at Amazon this weekend. It’s First Hunt, the complete first book of the Bounty Hunter series. The title at Amazon, as of the time I’m making this post, still says “Part One” on it, but that will hopefully update soon. It’s saved to Amazon, but they haven’t changed it yet.

First Hunt, book one of the Bounty Hunter series by Ima Erthwitch.I’d first released it in parts, but revised the Amazon listing to only list this one instead. If you do get the download while it’s free, please let me know if it still ends at “part one”. When I use the “Look Inside” feature, it shows me the whole book. But when I order the free sample, it still only shows me part one.

At first I thought doing it in 25,000 word parts would be a good idea. But then when it came time to figure out what to do with all the parts once the novel was published, I decided I won’t be doing it that way anymore.

First Hunt takes the reader from Treya’s beginnings with ARSA and follows through the first kill on her first assignment. I’m working on the second book now, tentatively titled “Twice Dead”.

There will be a third kill, but I won’t call the last one “Third Dead”, lol. I think it’ll be called “Grub Stage” instead. The concept of the series is that the ARSA bounty hunters kill their targets three times to force them into lower incarnations. Grub Stage is the lowest and is reserved for the worst criminals.

Join me at the 8th Annual Agroforestry Symposium in Columbia, MO

January 26, 2017

We’ll be there representing Wild Ozark and I’ll be participating in the discussion panel for medicinal plant growers and entrepreneurs. Come out and meet us, talk about ginseng and the new habitat garden, or just say hello.

8th Annual UMCA Agroforestry Symposium Agenda Jan. 26 2017

8th Annual UMCA Agroforestry Symposium Agenda Jan. 26 2017

Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden

Announcement: The garden will NOT be open during May 2019. It will be open during April, and from June through September.

The Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden

This is a restored habitat where you can see and learn about American ginseng in a natural environment.

The ginseng and companion plants are sleeping away the winter, awaiting the public in this "virtually wild" habitat at Wild Ozark.
The ginseng and companion plants are sleeping away the winter, awaiting the public in this “virtually wild” habitat at Wild Ozark.

A Re-Established Habitat

A few decades ago this land was logged but not clear-cut. Then it was unoccupied for a number of years. Between being unoccupied (which made the land a sort of “free for all”) and the ecosystem destruction that comes with logging, most of the wild ginseng was here was wiped out.

Still, some pockets survived. Microhabitats that provided the perfect environment for ginseng persisted because they existed in spots too difficult to reach for loggers.

The ethical diggers who frequented these hills protected patches they found by pulling off the leaves of plants they didn’t dig. They made a point to not dig all they found in a habitat. They did this so they could come back year after year to harvest without taking too large a toll on the population.

ginseng in summer with red berries
ginseng in summer with red berries

It helped that this all occurred and then we came along to occupy the land before the frenzy caused by the popular television shows romanticizing the pillage of American ginseng.

The Garden Habitat

In the area I’m using for the public garden there was no ginseng left and very few of the companions because of the logging that happened long ago. Now the trees have grown back and although the transition from pioneer cedars to mixed hardwood is still underway, the area is once again suitable for plants that enjoy the deep shade, like ginseng, goldenseal, ferns, bloodroot and cohoshes.

I’ve made trails, planted “virtually wild” ginseng, transplanted companion plants, and labeled or marked everything (this will be ongoing). Many thanks to my friend Layne Sleeth and her husband Brian for the help with labor and donation of maidenhair ferns!

Unique and Destination-worthy

I don’t know if there’s anything else like it in the country. If so, it hasn’t shown up in my internet searches to find one. If you know of any public ginseng gardens in natural habitats, please let me know so I can link to it here. We can create a “ginseng trail” for ginseng lovers like the wine trails from cellar to cellar enjoyed by wine lovers. It would be interesting to travel from habitat to habitat in other areas to note the differences between them all.

Details

Where is it?

CALL OR EMAIL AHEAD use the contact information (click here or see menu) to get in touch and I’ll mail the address and directions.

There is NO CELLPHONE SIGNAL in this area, so make sure to call before you leave Kingston or Huntsville to make sure I’m here if you haven’t emailed ahead of time to set an appointment. You will need a truck or car without low profile tires. If it has rained a lot recently, the bridges could be flooded. See below about “About the Road to get Here” for details about the drive here.

What are the Open Hours and Days?

Usually we’re open from May through September. For 2019 we will not be open during the month of May. It is by appointment only. If the response to this project is great, I’ll set regular hours and days. I’ll always make the best effort I can to accommodate visitors, especially those who are travelling from a distance and are on tight schedules. CALL OR EMAIL AHEAD use the contact information (click here or see menu) to get in touch and I’ll mail the address and directions.

How Much does it Cost?

Free. I will have a donation can handy for those who are willing and able to support the garden.

$20/car for the optional escorted “Herb Drive” (see below)

About the Road to get Here

  • A long dirt road– Wild Ozark is in a very remote location. It is six miles down a dirt road. There are 6 low-water bridges to cross, so if it rains more than an inch or two, the road could become impassable.
  • Lots of photo opportunity– beautiful scenery to see along the roadside. You will see beautiful fields, pastures, old barns, old homesteads, forests, and possibly wildlife. You’ll definitely see a lot of beauty and tremendous biodiversity in plants.
  • Herb Drive – For $20/car you can take an “Herb Drive”- there are lots of plants and herbs of interest down this road. I will conduct a driving herb walk by meeting you at the front end of the road and escorting you back here with lots of stops along the way to get out and see plants like black cohosh, blue cohosh, green dragon, jack-in-the-pulpit, wild hydrangea, giant solomon’s seal, trout lilies, etc. Here’s a post I have about the plants and sights I often see and photograph on the way here.

Nearby Lodging

  • There are no nearby hotels, and the nearest rental cabins are about an hour away or more. Your best bet for hotels would be Rogers, Springdale, or Fayetteville. The cabin rentals at Azalea Falls are gorgeous.
  • Canoe, hike, and stay at Cedarcrest lodge in Ponca. There are other cabins in the Ponca area, too. Just do a Google search for “lodge in Ponca, Arkansas”. It’s about an hour and a half away. You’ll find almost everywhere is about an hour or two away.

The Nearest Town is Kingston, AR

In the town of Kingston there are places to eat and other things to see. Kingston is only 12 miles away, but it takes about 40 minutes to get there from here if you drive slow on the dirt road. Driving fast gets you there faster, but increases the odds of punctured tires and developing new rattles in your vehicle 🙂

  • The town square is tiny but teeming with antiques.
  • You’ll want to visit The Place on the Square. Make sure to go all the way to the back to see The Artroom Gallery, too.
  • And don’t miss Grandpa’s Antique store.
  • Look through the window if the bank isn’t open and you’ll see the old safe on display.
  • It’s okay to be amused at our micro-library, but don’t diss it. It’s come a long ways since the first one!
  • Dining options include The Valley Cafe, The Kingston Station, and Sugar Boogers which is a little farther north on Hwy. 21 near the junction of 412.

Visit the Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden & Nursery

Eventually I want to have a little storefront here, but for now it’s just a little spot across the creek where ginseng and companions are growing. Here’s a little schematic of the plan:

Plans for the Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden, Boutique & Nursery
click to enlarge

Where else can you see ginseng?

You also can see American ginseng growing at the Compton Gardens in Bentonville, AR. Wild Ozark received a grant from United Plant Savers to install a sanctuary garden there. It’s still immature and will be for a few more years, but the little recreated habitat will fill out over the years. Each spring, we’ll bring new plants to replace the ones that don’t survive the squirrels or whatever other hazards might befall the plants in a tended garden.

There might also still be one specimen plant at the Ozark Folk Center’s Herb Garden in Mountainview, AR. It’s been many years since I’ve visited there, though, so can’t say for sure.

What’s the Difference between the Wild Ozark Ginseng Garden and those others?

The garden here is a natural setting, it’s not a park in an urban environment just growing a few ginseng plants. Wild Ozark’s Ginseng Garden is a true habitat and demonstration of the ecosystem that supports wild American ginseng.

Email today and set a date to visit the Wild Ozark Nature Boutique & Ginseng Garden!

Cultivated American Ginseng from Wisconsin

I’m posting this for Terra over at Soul Sisters Skincare. They have a large crop of fresh white American ginseng and an unexpected lack of buyer:

  • White American Ginseng
  • not organic
  • cultivated in Wisconsin
  •  total available is 100,000
  • lot sizes are in 50 lbs lots
  • $65/lb firm price
  • Hmong farmers

Ideally we’d like to sell large volumes, but partial orders are okay.

Anyone interested in discussing further can reach me at this email [email protected]

~ Terra

How Does Ginseng Look in Fall? Here’s how it looks in the Ozarks in October

I get questions from readers often, mostly about how to find ginseng or to ask for help in identifying whether what they’ve found is ginseng or not. Right now, though, people are asking “How does ginseng look in fall?”

Many are surprised to learn that it changes colors with the season. Here in the Ozarks, our ginseng can start turning yellow in late September. This year, colors seem to be running a bit later and it’s only just now beginning to turn. Today is Oct. 5.

All photos are available as signed/numbered prints up to 8″ x 10″ for $30. Click on “Contact” in the menu to inquire.

How Does Ginseng Look in Fall

How does ginseng look in fall? It sometimes turns bright greenish-yellow, making it easier to spot in the woods.
Ginseng turns greenish-yellow in fall, sometimes making it easier to spot.

Most of the time by October the berries have long since fallen. I found one plant today with a berry still clinging.

This is how ginseng looks in fall: A bug-eaten and yellowing 3-prong with one berry still clinging.
A bug-eaten and yellowing 3-prong with one berry still clinging.

If the plants aren’t yellow yet, they’re very often bug-eaten and pretty ratty looking.

I find American ginseng to be a beautiful plant all year, but sometimes near the end of her growth cycle she takes on a certain glow. It looks as if this mature 4-prong is basking in her golden year-end, even if she does look a bit worse for the wear:

American ginseng in October. This is a wild-simulated plant growing wild in the forest at Wild Ozark. There is no difference between wild and "wild-simulated" except that the seed was placed in that spot by me, rather than falling from a mother plant or carried by a bird.
American ginseng in October. This is a wild-simulated plant growing wild in the forest at Wild Ozark.

Ginseng in October by Madison Woods. Prints available.
My drawing of Ginseng in October. Prints available in our online shop.

 

Defining “Wild-Simulated”

When native berries are planted, or at least seeds purchased from a grower of a similar ginseng, there is no visual difference between the roots of our wild and “wild-simulated” except that the seed was placed in that spot by a human, rather than falling from a mother plant or carried by a bird.

There are some visual differences in different varieties of ginseng, although most of the people I know with knowledge of ginseng claim there is only one variety of ginseng and that it has no other iterations. From what I’ve seen, though, ginseng that grows in some parts of the country have longer flower stems and the berry clusters are held high above the plant.

Our native ginseng berry clusters are usually closer to the leaves. I would notice an unusual-looking plant in our habitats. I would know it wasn’t wild if I had used seeds from those with the taller flower stems. Unless you can see that the plant isn’t a local variety, without genetic testing it would be impossible to know what is true wild and what is wild-simulated.

Wild-simulated is planted in a way to mimic nature, in groupings or small colonies in habitats that would ordinarily support wild ginseng.

This is not the same as “woods grown”. Woods grown is grown in the woods in places wild or wild-simulated would also grow, but usually in rows or beds or swaths to make harvesting easier. Woods grown is also sometimes planted in tilled beds or treated with fertilizers or herbicides and pesticides.

 

Here’s the same plant later in October of the same year:

ginseng in october
Click the photo to enlarge.

The Companions Change in Appearance, Too

Blue cohosh can’t even be found by this time of year. It’s already died back and withered into the leaf cover.

Doll’s Eyes (White Baneberry), or Actaea pachypoda, has ripe fruits still waiting to drop onto the ground. You can see how the common name was derived, though a doll with those eyes would be pretty freaky looking.

Doll's Eyes (Actaea pachypoda) with ripe berries in October.

Bloodroot is getting harder to find because many of them have also returned to ground, but here and there a tattered leaf remains to mark the spot:

Bloodroot in early October at Wild Ozark.



Here’s goldenseal on the 18th of October:

Goldenseal on October 18, 2016.
Goldenseal on October 18, 2016.

Rattlesnake fern questions what all the fuss is about. This one is putting on seeds (spores) as if nothing unusual is happening. These and grape ferns never die back, but sometimes a frost will give a bronze cast to the ground-hugging fronds.

Rattlesnake fern, sometimes called a "pointer fern" because it grows with ginseng.
Rattlesnake fern, sometimes called a “pointer fern” because it grows with ginseng.

Even the Look-Alikes Change Colors

The Virginia creeper mimics ginseng all year long, even in early fall. But in late fall it comes time to show true colors. It turns red sometimes later on, which ginseng never does.

Virginia creeper is a ginseng look-alike.

This Ohio Buckeye leaf is stunning in red:

ohio-buckeye-in-october

Thanks for stopping by!

I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour through the ginseng woods with me today. This little hike actually took place yesterday but I’m just now getting around to making the post. This morning it’s raining.

Ginseng Growing Season is Winding Down, Digging Winding Up

Ginseng Growing Season

The ginseng growing season is winding down now. The plants set berries earlier and most of them have ripened and fallen to the ground already. Some of the plants will soon begin turning yellow most years. We’ve had so much rain and such a mild summer, though, that I’m curious to see if that has affected the way the plants look.

Digging Season

Digging season is winding up for those who aren’t concerned about the prices their roots will bring. We don’t dig roots for market, but if we did, I wouldn’t dig until I knew the prices were good enough to make the time and effort of digging it worthwhile.

In my opinion, it’s better to leave old plants in the ground so they can produce another round of offspring than it is to dig during low demand years. But we dig very few roots at all, and never the old ones. Our focus here is on selling seedlings and seeds, not roots. So our perspective on digging is perhaps a bit different.

Those old ones are the colony matriarchs and they usually set the most berries for new plants. We don’t have enough of the old wild ones left to spare any to sell as roots. Perhaps in a few years or so I’ll reconsider and make limited quantities of our wild-simulated available as fresh roots for local consumers.

But some diggers will just make an effort to dig more, instead. That would make up for the difference in price per pound – just bring more pounds to the market.

Usually low prices of any traded good means there is either low demand or over-supply. The case with ginseng this year, according to the dealers who have shared information with me, is both. The demand is lower because of overseas economy. And there is over-supply. Many dealers still have dried roots to sell from the previous season.

So digging more to make up for lower prices is only setting up the same problems for the next season. It also puts a greater stress on an already endangered plant.

Ginseng Has a Season

Did you know ginseng has a season when it’s legal to hunt, just like deer or rabbits? It does. Season opens on Sept. 1 and ends Dec. 1. There is also “poaching”. Poaching is digging out of season, or digging illegally on private or public land.

The national forests in most states are closed to ginseng digging so it’s considered poaching to dig in those locations. Diggers need permission from private landowners, otherwise it’s poaching if they’re trespassing to dig.

For the past several days, beginning before the Sept. 1 opening date, I’ve passed a parked vehicle on our county road. It’s always parked in areas that look as if they’d be good ginseng locations. Each day it’s parked in a different spot. I’m not familiar with the vehicle and ordinarily the traffic is so low on our road that we (the residents) can usually tell who’s who.

I’m hoping this isn’t someone scouring the woods for ginseng. And I hope they don’t get closer to what’s left of the wild ginseng growing in our own woods. I never see anyone around the vehicle, but I would stop and talk to them to try and find out who they are and what they’re doing here if I did.

Ginseng in September

This is how ginseng looks in September. Today I’ll try to get out to the woods where there is some ginseng growing for some photographs to show you how it looks this year. It’s been dry the past week, but until now the weather has been unusually wet. We’ve had more rain than I can ever remember having in a spring and summer, so I’m curious to see how it’s doing.

Previous Year, Sept. 16, 2015

Ginseng growing in mid-September
This ginseng still looks pretty good even late in season.

This Year, Sept. 6, 2016

I’ll try to get another one on the 16th so we can see the same day, different year comparison.

 

Slugs and Dragons and Ginseng, Oh My! Wild Ozark Creations

I’ve been working on a few new Wild Ozark creations lately. This creative streak seems to have no end in sight, either, because ideas just keep coming and I keep feeling compelled to follow them through.

Slugs

This is the latest drawing I’ve done. The digital and print rights (for business branding, not art prints) and print #1/100 have been sold already, but there are still 99 prints available. I had so much fun doing this drawing, because it made me see poison ivy and slugs in an entirely new light. Whoever knew the two of them could be beautiful together?

Slug on Poison Ivy
Slug on Poison Ivy

Dragons

I’ve been photographing a particular green dragon (Arisaema dracontium) over the past few years, trying to get good photos of all the various phases. A couple of years ago, I even had seeds that I’d gathered from it sprout.

So I was finally able to complete a creative thing that’s been waiting a long time – The Dragon Life Storyboard:

A poster showing the growth phases of a green dragon plant.
A poster showing the growth phases of a green dragon plant.

You can get this poster at our Wild Ozark Redbubble shop: https://www.redbubble.com/people/wildozark/works/22836244-story-of-the-dragon. If you know any science teachers who might like to decorate a classroom, send them my way!

You can read more about Green Dragons on one of my earlier posts.

Ginseng

So then I thought, “Well, I can’t have a dragon storyboard without a ginseng one too!”

Story of Ginseng
Story of Ginseng

Pressed Leaves

And for ginseng I also have been making pressed leaves. Some of them are laminated so they’re durable enough to take to the woods. Some I’ll mount on fine art paper for framing. Only the laminated ones are posted to the shop so far. They’re $10.

Mature ginseng leaf prong

Fiction

I’ve been working on my novel and am getting excited by how it’s going. Here’s the story line for that:

Bounty Hunter is a rural adventure fantasy set in post-collapse northwest Arkansas. There’s a rift in the Universal fabric that the Feds aren’t telling anyone about, but it’s the main reason martial law is still in effect. Treya is training to be an assassin for ARSA, a covert government agency headquartered in Bentonville. Punishment isn’t that the criminals are put to death. It’s that they’re killed three times to force them into successively lower incarnations. Treya has to learn how to use her innate gifts that enable her to track a person throughout their incarnations, whether they’re human or not.

Your Turn!

So tell me what projects you’ve been working on? Send links if you have posts about them or Etsy listings or whatever and I’ll link to them. My email address is [email protected]

 

Transplanting Ginseng Seedlings

Transplanting Ginseng Seedlings

First year ginseng seedlings are fragile and difficult to ship bare-root. They transplant well into pots, though, so this is how we usually sell our plants.

This year we had bad luck with the seeds going dormant again, but we found that all the seeds we planted year before last, that had also gone dormant before we planted them, were sprouting this year. So at least I can get busy transplanting ginseng seedlings from seeds sown two years back.

American ginseng seedling soon after sprouting.
American ginseng seedling soon after sprouting.

I just dig them up with a ball of their own native soil surrounding them and transplant to small pots with commercial soil-less potting mix. To ship them this way, because of regulations, I’d have to knock all the native soil off of them and I’m not sure how well they’d do without a little of the native soil.

I'm transplanting ginseng seedlings. Here's a pic of not ginseng and ginseng.
Not ginseng and ginseng

Ginseng Seedling Lookalikes

Usually it’s the same culprits, like Virginia Creeper and wild strawberry, but one lookalike in particular gets pretty tricky. Elm seedlings look more like ginseng seedlings to me than any other look-alike. Sometimes the elm seedlings only have three leaves showing, making it even more similar to the ginseng. In the photo above, the ginseng seedling is at the top, nearly out of the photo. The elm seedling is the one with four leaves in the center. There is a poison ivy plant at the top left, nearly out of the frame.

I’ll be trying to get at least 50 seedlings potted today.

Update 5/22

I did manage to get more than 50 seedlings transplanted.

Ginseng seedlings transplanted to pots. I keep them in the shade with a light cover of dead leaves.
Ginseng seedlings transplanted to pots. I keep them in the shade with a light cover of dead leaves.

One of the seedlings had grown up through a skeletal leaf. I liked the way that looked and left it there, potting it leaf skeleton and all:

Lacy skeleton leaf of ginseng seedling.
Lacy skeleton leaf on ginseng seedling.

While I was at it, I made a very short video clip (terrible quality, sorry) to show the ginseng seedlings versus the elm seedling lookalikes:

Most positive ID possible

If the seedling still has a seed attached to the stem and root, it’s the most positive way I know to be certain of the identity:

Ginseng seedling with the seed still attached.
Ginseng seedling with the seed still attached.

 

 

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.