Early April in the Ginseng Habitat

Every year the same flowers bloom in pretty much the same order. And although I have hundreds of images in my files, I can’t help but start heading out with the camera. The blooms start in early April in the ginseng habitat.

The first flowers that bloom are usually the toothwort (formerly of the Dentaria genus, now Cardamine concatenata). I wish they would quit changing the botanical/latin names of plants. It gets hard to keep up sometimes.

Not quite blooming yet at the time of this photo, but they’re all in full swing now as we enter the second week of April.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is ordinarily the next in line to show off.

A poster of bloodroot showing the interesting features of this plant. It blooms in early April in the ginseng habitat.
This is a poster I made a few years ago to show all of the different things about bloodroot that I find interesting. The leaf shape and root color are as enthralling as the flowers.

Trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) show leaves a little while before the flowers begin to appear. It grows in large colonies, but they don’t begin blooming for sometimes five years.

Trout lilies grow in large colonies, but they don't begin blooming for sometimes five years.

Named for the mottled appearance of the basal leaf, it sort of resembles a trout under the water.

Rue anemone and False rue anemone are blooming now, too. So far this year, I’ve only found Rue anemone (Halictrum thalictroides). The false has more deeply lobed leaves.

Rue and false rue anemone are among the early bloomers in April in the ginseng habitat.

Purple (or ‘wild blue’) Phlox (Phlox divaricata) is brightening up the woodlands everywhere, not just in the ginseng habitats.

Phlox grows in many shady environments, not just in the ginseng habitats.
Not limited to the deep moist woods, but it too shows up in early April in the ginseng habitat.

Dutchmen’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria ) is always a challenge to photograph. The flowers and the leaves are not always on the same focal plane, so it’s hard to get them both clear at the same time. These do only grow in the rich moist soils, so is a good sign to look for in early April in the ginseng habitat.


This one was leaning over an embankment, which made the effort a little easier.

While this one isn’t a flower yet, the leaves of wild hydrangea (
Hydrangea arborescens ) are starting to open up. These plants are a frequent resident in the ginseng habitat.

Wild hydrangea starts to put on leaves early in April in the ginseng habitat.
Wild hydrangea cuttings coming up in the Wild Ozark nursery and Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden.

What about the ginseng?

Ginseng usually begins to unfurl here toward the end of April. At the earliest, maybe late in the second week of April. Click here to see some posts from previous years’ unfurling watch.

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.

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

If the Creeks Don’t Rise… Springtime in the Ozarks

Wild Ozark will be at Terra Studios tomorrow.

But with the rain we might get overnight and in the morning, the odds are looking poor. If I can’t make it there on Saturday, then on Sunday I should be able to make it. Springtime in the Ozarks usually means more rain.

UPDATE: I made it out in time so I’ll be there today 😁

Ordinarily we do get a lot of rain in springtime. But we’ve been getting a lot more rain than ordinary since *last* spring.

Framed some Paintings

All week I’ve been getting ready for this weekend’s South x Southeast Art Tour. I’ve framed a few more paintings, with the intention to sell some original art this time.

When I framed the last one, I thought I might do something a little different. The painting is a monochrome using only the pigment from a red sandstone. I named the paint “Intoxicating”, which is also what I named the painting.

So I added a little nugget of the same kind of sandstone to the frame, so the owner can see the kind of rock I used to make the paint.

Paleo Painting with the rock used to make the paint on the frame.
I think I’ll make a point to save some of the stones from each of the paints I make so I can add more interest to the frames. Paintings using more than one color will get graced by more than one stone.

Springtime in the Ozarks

Springtime in the Ozarks means trout lilies blooming.
Springtime in the Ozarks means trout lilies blooming.

Just in case I don’t get any pictures this year of the ephemerals, because springtime in the Ozarks sometimes has a tendency to knock the blooms down before I get to take their portraits, here’s a link from previous year.

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:

Lousewort, Bumblebee Food and Medicinal Herb

Lousewort (Pedicularis canadensis) is an interesting plant. It’s a medicinal herb said to be effective at muscular pain relief. The bumblebees love it!

Rosy colored variety of Pedicularis
Rosy colored variety of Pedicularis, with a bumble bee visiting.

A pale yellow-colored lousewort.
A pale yellow-colored lousewort.

Some lousewort, showing whole plant. It gets larger and taller as the season progresses.
Some lousewort, showing whole plant. It gets larger and taller as the season progresses.

An interesting find

In May of 2014, I noticed an interesting plant. Well, I’m *always* noticing interesting plants, so it wasn’t the first time to notice an interesting plant, but the first time to notice lousewort.

It was growing in the cedar grove below the pond, in the same area as the rattlesnake plantain and twayblade orchids. Although I’ve walked around in there before I had never noticed the the greenish-gray ferny fronds.

At the time it wasn’t blooming, but I immediately recognized it from long ago when I studied with a Master Herbalist in Bay St. Louis, MS. It’s hard to believe that was nearly 25 years ago now. Her name was Amelia Plant and we’ve long since lost touch, but I often wonder what she’s been up to. She had brought me and a few of her other students on a gathering trip in MS and that was one we collected.

Lousewort is semi-parasitic

Its roots feed off of the roots of neighboring plants, but it doesn’t require a host to live. Because of the possibility that it’s feeding from neighboring plants, if you plan to use it as medicine, it’s important to make sure the neighbors aren’t poisonous plants. The variety of lousewort that grows at Wild Ozark is Pedicularis canadensis.

Some of them bloom with a bicolor rosy/white tubular flower and some have pale yellow, nearly white flowers. Medicinally, the above-ground parts are used for skeletal muscle pain. I haven’t tried it yet, but I did just harvest some yesterday to put up for later use. It’s not a narcotic, so the pain relief isn’t likely to be as effective as narcotic drugs.

This herb is reported to combine well with skullcap and black cohosh to make a pretty good muscle relaxer. Black cohosh affects female hormones, though, so be aware of that and perhaps use a different herb, like black haw or skunk cabbage as a substitute if you have a hormone-influenced issue.

  • Always consult your physician and do your own research before using herbs – the information I provide through my newsletters and website is only meant to be a starting point and is NOT intended to be taken as medical advice. I’m not a doctor, have no medical training, and am not offering medical advice.

Lobelia inflata is another local medicinal herb that would go well with this combination, but the seeds (the part most medicinal) are potent. Use caution in dosage.

Where to Find Lousewort

The lousewort plants I found are growing in a moist cedar grove under plenty of shade. I’ve also seen them growing in partly shady areas alongside our county road. This spring I’ll be trying to propagate some of the ones here. If I’m successful with that and you want to get some, let me know. If I’m able to get in, I’ll be at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market this year. Otherwise you’ll have to make trip out to the Wild Ozark Nature Farm 🙂

References for my information and more on using lousewort at these sites:

  • http://7song.com/pedicularis-lousewort-monograph-pedicularis-as-a-skeletal-muscle-relaxant/ (sorry, can’t link directly because it’s not a secure website, but it is safe if you want to copy and paste the URL)
  • https://www.altnature.com/gallery/woodbetony.htm

2018 Spring Awakening Watch – First Native Flowers of the Ozarks

It’s mid-March 2018 and I’m watching for the first native flowers of the Ozarks to start blooming. I particularly love the ephemeral blooms of early spring, like the bloodroot and Dutchmen’s breeches. Scroll down to see pictures and keep up with what’s blooming at Wild Ozark. If you’re looking specifically for the ginseng unfurling/blooming, you’ll find that on the Ginseng Unfurling Watch 2018 page.

Native Flowers of the Ozarks at Wild Ozark

3-26-18 The false rue anemone is blooming along the driveway. Farther from the house, down the road heading to pavement, I saw the bloodroot finally making an appearance. It’s not up yet here, but should be soon. Toothwort is abundant, corydalis still is blooming. The only photo I was able to get so far was of the false rue anemone, with my cell phone, and it didn’t come out well enough to bother posting it on the website. Once the rain clears out I’ll try to get down the driveway with the real camera.

3-20-18 Today I spotted one of my favorite spring flowers blooming along the roadside. So, while it’s not technically ‘at’ Wild Ozark, I consider it to be ‘Wild Ozark at-Large’, since it was only down the dirt roading leading here 🙂 Everything here is a week or two behind the surrounding area. We live in a little microclimate.

One of my favorite native flowers of the Ozarks, Pale Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum)
Pale Trout Lily (Erythronium albidum)

Not much else blooming yet at Wild Ozark proper, but I did find this Cutleaf Toothwort getting close.

Cutleaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenate)
Cutleaf Toothwort (Cardamine concatenate)

3-18-18 Not a flower yet either, but the buds of the Redbud (Cercis canadensis) tree are swelling. The flowers are edible and make a colorful addition to salads. Here’s a  pic from this morning that I took while we were bringing hay to the horses. It’s a terrible pic, but the limbs were swaying and I didn’t have the good camera with me. I pulled a muscle in my back yesterday and moving around is a bit of a problem today, so it’s not likely I’ll be going back out there to get another photo before the flowers open, so this one is the best I’ll get for now. Next pic will be of flowers, not buds.

Redbud buds. The flowers bud out and bloom on this tree before the leaves even begin to swell.
Redbud buds. The flowers bud out and bloom on this tree before the leaves even begin to swell.

 

3-17-18 Not a flower, yet, but the first leaves of one of my favorite native flowers – Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum). When it blooms it too will be yellow. I’ll post the picture of it as soon as I see it.

Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)
Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

3-15-18 Noticed that the Pale Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) is blooming along our morning mile hike route. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me to capture it. Today we have appointments in town and tomorrow is the first market day of the season. So unless I can get out there this afternoon before it’s too dark for a photo, it’ll be a few days before one shows up here! (update – got a pic, see below!) The flowers are small and yellow with foliage that looks a lot like Dutchmen’s Breeches (ferny and dissected). It’s a relatively small plant and is one of the first native flowers of the Ozarks to bloom. If not for the bright yellow color of the flowers, it would be easy to miss. Corydalis grows in the shady edges of the woods.

The one pictured below is growing in a bright sunny spot that opened up when we had more of the landslide come down this past winter. It’s not happy in full sun, though. I’ll probably move the ones located here to pots for the nursery.

Corydalis belongs to the same Family as poppies. Like poppies, Corydalis is full of alkaloids, compounds which usually mark a plant as being medicinally active. It was used by native Americans and early American doctors, however, the plant is toxic and even small doses can cause tremors and convulsions. This could be caused by incorrect preparations (i.e. water extract versus alcohol or oil), but it’s not one I’m inclined to experiment with and I can’t recommend it as a native medicinal option. According to the reports I’ve read, the way native Americans used it was to burn the plant on coals and fan themselves with the smoke. It was said to “clear the head“. I haven’t found any references to explain what that means or how it worked.

Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) is one of the first of the native flowers to bloom at Wild Ozark.
Yellow Corydalis (Corydalis flavula) is one of the first of the native flowers to bloom at Wild Ozark.

3-8-18 Usually the first plants to show signs of life with blooms here are the Vernal Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis). These sometimes bloom as early as January and February. This year they bloomed in March.

Vernal Witch Hazel flowers
Vernal Witch Hazel flowers

American Hazelnut(Corylus americana) is blooming right now too:

Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)
Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)

I’m watching for bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata), and Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
to show up soon. None yet when I checked yesterday, though (Mar 13). Add this page to your RSS feed or check back often to see what’s blooming next!

What’s your favorite flowers of the Ozarks?

What’s the Difference between Native and Ornamental?

Native flowers grow in the area naturally. They are plants that evolved with the local habitats. Ornamental plants are imported, hybridized or modified in some way to highlight the showy features of the plant. Unless you’re shopping specifically for a native plant, at a nursery you’ll most likely get something that originated elsewhere. Nurseries stock plants most likely to sell to the public and often that is a bright, showy flower. Some nurseries, like Wild Ozark, specializes in native plants. We specialize even further – native woodland plants of the American ginseng habitat. I’ll start bringing plants to the market in April, so keep an eye on the calendar if you want to know where to find the booth.

‘Naturalized’ plants are mostly foreign plants that found their way to new habitats here in the US a long time ago. Some were brought with the settlers, some purposefully and some accidentally. These plants adapted so well to the environment that they began out-competing the native plants. Japanese honeysuckle and Chinese privet are two examples of this type of plant. Autumn (or Russian) Olive is a third.

The hazelnut and husk, straight from the tree.

Vernal Witch Hazel Flowers and Hazelnut too!

Today I went out to take cuttings from the Ozark Witch Hazel in the hopes of rooting them. I wasn’t looking for an American Hazelnut, but that’s what I found! I found the Witch Hazels, too. But I already knew those were there. New finds are always so exciting to me, but I think most people probably think I’m a little strange to be so thrilled over finding a  plant.

While I was scanning the creeksides for the witch hazel blooms, I happened to notice a small tree/large shrub on the uphill side of the road. On the opposite side of where I knew the witch hazels to be. From a distance, it looked a lot like it was covered with the American hazelnut male flowers that I saw on Steven Foster’s FB post the other day. My heart beat a little faster and I got out to take a closer look.

American Hazelnut (Corylus americana)

Sure enough, there were the ‘catkin’ male flowers.

Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)
Male flowers of the American hazelnut (Corylus americana)

And teeny tiny little fushia colored flowers at the ends of some of the branches. The flowers are very similar in appearance to the witch hazel, just a different color and a LOT smaller. I couldn’t get a good photo of them, but here’s what I have:

Male and female flower of the American hazelnut. The female is that tiny little frilly thing at the tip end of the branch.
Male and female flower of the American hazelnut. The female is that tiny little frilly thing at the tip end of the branch.

Now, to see MUCH better photos, take a look at Foster’s.

I poked around in the bushes for a bit and found one of the hazelnut shrubs that still had a leftover nut on it. The nut was tremendous in comparison to the small ones produced by the witch hazels, but it is still a fairly small nut compared to the ones you’d buy in the stores around Christmastime.

Smallish or not, I’d be willing to crack and shell them if I could gather enough. In fall, the new crop of nuts will be on the tree and you can bet I’ll be there trying to get them before the wildlife.

The hazelnut and husk, straight from the tree.
The hazelnut and husk, straight from the tree.

 

Surprise, Surprise

I’ve lived here 13 years now and never noticed this small tree. I know it’s been there longer than I’ve lived here.

It always surprises me when that happens. I just this year saw the biggest beech tree I’ve ever seen out here and it obviously has been there fifty years or more. Same thing happened with a deciduous magnolia. Found it, for the first time, last year right on the side of a trail I commonly use, and it too has been there probably fifty years.

Who knows how many more as-yet undiscovered plants are out there waiting on me?

Vernal Witch Hazel

The Vernal Witch Hazels are also known as Ozark Witch Hazels (Hamamelis vernalis). They bloom in late winter or very early spring (hence, the ‘vernal’ part of their common name). We have another variety called simply ‘Witch Hazel’ (H. virginiana) that blooms around October. Those have yellow flowers. The vernal ones have maroon and yellow flowers.

I think I almost missed the blooms on these this year. Or maybe they’re just getting started. I’ll have to check again in a day or two and see if the flowers are more developed, or completely withered.

Vernal Witch Hazel flowers
Vernal Witch Hazel flowers

I don’t really do anything with the Witch Hazel medicinally. They’re good for making an astringent wash to treat hemorrhoids and they make a good facial tonic. I just like the flowers and it’s one of my annual ritual photos I like to take to mark the passing of time. If in the future I need to use them for a remedy, I know where to find them.

When I finished getting my pictures, I took some cuttings and will try rooting them to see if I can make new plants from them. I tried this last year, but it didn’t work. Ever the optimist – that’s me. I’ll keep trying.

Have you ever tried eating the American Hazelnuts or using the Witch Hazel? Let me know how it went. When I was a teenager I used to use the Witch Hazel tonic for acne, but I’m not even sure they still sell it on the shelf like they used to do way back when.

More Information

Hazelnut: https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/american-hazelnut

 

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.

Virginia Creeper seedling

Virginia Creeper Seedling in my Ebony Spleenwort Fern

There’s a Virginia creeper  (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) seedling creeping up toward the light in my spleenwort fern (Asplenium platyneuron) container. I watched it for a few days with a suspicious eye as it unfurled, because I thought it might be a poison ivy.

Virginia Creeper

This isn’t one of my favorite plants. I’m only fascinated with it because I’ve never seen the creeper at this stage before. Actually, I did get online to make sure it wasn’t something else I suspected it could be, but the seedlings of that other plant look nothing like the seedling growing in my pot.

Virginia creeper seedling a little less zoomed. Virginia creeper seedling

Virginia creeper is the plant most often mistaken for ginseng. This seedling looks nothing at all like ginseng seedlings, though. Here’s what a ginseng seedling looks like on day 2:

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

I think I’ll keep my little seedling and bring it with me to my market booths for show and tell. But it’s going to have to get in its own pot soon.

Ebony Spleenwort

I need the little fern in its own pot, free of the creeper. These little ferns are called Ebony Spleenwort, and they adapt well to the fairy gardens in globes, bowls, and other containers. I do love these. They’re very plentiful here at Wild Ozark, but I’ll begin propagating them in woodland beds this year. That’s more sustainable than taking them from their wild homes.

Here's one of the Bowl Terrariums with a maturing Ebony Spleenwort growing in it.
Here’s one of the Bowl Terrariums with a maturing Ebony Spleenwort growing in it. I sell these as kits at my Etsy shop, and I’ll have them at the market booth this year.

Any plant with ‘wort’ in its name was once used for medicine. This fern was used for promoting menstruation and for chest congestion. The leaves are supposedly used as a tea. I have no plans to experiment with remedies using this plant. I like it for the fairy gardens mostly.

Vernal Witch Hazel

The other day I spotted some male flowers on the witch hazels down at the creek, but I didn’t have a camera on hand. I’ll try to get some pics of those before they disappear. That, too, is a new thing for me. Until Steven Foster posted his photo of one on FB the other day, I didn’t know witch hazel even had male and female flowers.

I think I may have missed the female witch hazel flowers on the vernal variety. I’m not sure how that happened, since I pass them everytime I go to town, but maybe I have been less attentive than usual in February. Or maybe they bloomed earlier and were knocked off by rain before I had a chance to see. No telling. I’ll try again next year.

Find us at the Fayetteville Farmers Market

I’m so excited! We just got the approval notification for our application to the Fayetteville Arkansas Farmer’s Market. This is a juried market. Last month we had an appointment with the review board. We brought our crafts for inspection – the fairy houses, fairy gardens, forest folk, and keepsake boxes. We have another review for the syrup and ginseng/woodland plants, but those are also fairly unique and so should be accepted as well.

The schedule? That I don’t know yet. Early in the season we’ll likely be there every Saturday starting March 31. Later in the season, they may boot us out to give space to the more tenured vendors with produce just coming in. Watch my schedule page or email me to inquire if you need to know whether we’ll be there on any given Saturday.

Namesake of the Dragon – Another Green Dragon Drawing

Here’s the second of the Green Dragon drawings I’ve been working on. I posted the first part of it last week. This part is called the spathe (the hood) and the spadix (the long ‘tongue’) and it is the namesake of the dragon. This part of the plant is what becomes the cluster of red berries after fertilization occurs. You’ll see it in spring, before the plant has finished unfurling the horseshoe-shaped umbrella of its leaves.

Namesake of the Dragon - the spathe and spadix
Namesake of the Dragon – the spathe and spadix. Prints available.

If you’d like to know more about this plant, I have a few posts here on the blog about it. This is one of my favorite woodland plants.

A Green Dragon Drawing

I’ve been working on a Green Dragon drawing for the cover of NANPS’s summer issue of Blazing Star. There will be another of the spathe and spadix to do next. That one will be used in the article.

Here’s the photograph I worked from. I used more than one photo because I didn’t have a single capture that showed the plant and all of its leaves AND the ripe fruit cluster.  I used this one because it at least showed all of the leaves.

Green Dragon in July
Green Dragon in July

Here’s the progression of the drawing in stages:

Green Dragon Drawing
Green Dragon Drawing. Prints available from the Wild Ozark shop.

 

Click here to see my drawing of the Namesake of the Dragon. If you’d like to know more about this plant, I have a few posts here on the blog about it. This is one of my favorite woodland plants.

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.

Driveway Flowers in September

It’s been bone dry lately. This morning I brought my camera with me so I could take pictures of the driveway flowers.

Ordinarily this would have been an “exercise walk” and I wouldn’t have brought the camera because that would have just caused me to stop and take pictures. Which would have defeated the purpose of the exercise, which is to get the heart rate up and sustained up for a little while.

However, I’m still not up to my old self after the tick fever episode, so exercise isn’t “exercise” in the same sense of the word yet. Ha. So I brought the camera and called all the stooping and squatting “exercise”.

Heading out to take pictures of the driveway flowers and get a little exercise.
Dogs waiting for me to catch up.

It’s been so dry. We hadn’t gotten any rain for weeks and the trees are already dropping their leaves. Later in the afternoon, though, we did get a really nice shower.

The creek isn't flowing anymore and leaves are filling up the small pools.
The creek isn’t flowing anymore and leaves are filling up the small pools.

The water goes underground in the creek once it gets this dry. It leaves only a few small pools here and there. I have to check regularly to make sure the horses still have their usual water hole, but so far it’s never dried up in certain spots on their portion of the creek.

When the water is low, it’s easier to find interesting rocks. This one has an inclusion that looks like part of a plant. Or something else. I’m not sure what it is, but it looks like a fossil of some sort.

Fossil in the rock.
Fossil in the rock.

In spite of the drought, some of the driveway flowers are still doing well.

An evening primrose flower.
An evening primrose flower.

Evening primrose blooming in the morning.
Evening primrose blooming in the morning.

Goldenrods never seem bothered by the droughts.
Goldenrods never seem bothered by the droughts.

Many people mistakenly think it’s the goldenrod causing their allergies. In reality, it’s the ragweed which blooms during the same time frame. I didn’t take any pics of the ragweed. It really messes with my sinuses and I didn’t want to get any closer to them than I had to.

This one is called camphorweed, but it doesn’t smell like camphor to me. It plain stinks. It ought to be called stink weed instead. The latin binomial gives a good clue to its nature:  Pluchea foetida.

Camphor weed almost gone to seed.
Camphor weed almost gone to seed.

Down in Louisiana, when someone speaks of boneset, it’s usually Eupatorium perfoliatum. Up here in the Ozarks it’s usually a different boneset. This one is Eupatorium serotinum, or late boneset.

This is the only boneset I've ever found in the Ozarks.
This is the only boneset I’ve ever found in the Ozarks.

I know that E. perfoliatum is an herb once used to treat “breakbone” fever, or dengue fever. I’m not sure if our local variety has the same properties.

Once summer begins morphing into fall, the Lobelia inflata seed pods swell and ripen. I collected enough seeds of this plant last year that I didn’t need to gather more this year. It’s a valuable part of antispasmodic formulas I craft and really works quickly for muscle pain.

Lobelia inflata with swollen seedpods.
Lobelia inflata with swollen seed pods.

I wrote an article on this often overlooked plant for the North American Native Plant Society. It was included in the August 2017 issue of their members-only newsletter magazine called Blazing Star. I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive in the mail. I’m excited about this article because it also includes my drawing of lobelia and this issue is the very first color print version.

A prettier kind of lobelia that grows here is the Lobelia siphilitica, or Great Blue Lobelia. This one would look nice in wildflower gardens, but they don’t do so well in drought conditions. The ones growing near the creek still look good, but these are beginning to suffer.

Droopy great blue lobelia.
Droopy great blue lobelia.

The asters always look pretty no matter how dry it gets.

Asters don't seem to mind the drought.
Asters don’t seem to mind the drought.

An asp on the asters.
An asp on the asters.

I found an interesting new to me flower on my walk this morning.

Cuphea viscosissima has purple flowers with sticky calyxes.
Cuphea viscosissima has purple flowers with sticky calyxes.

A small frail plant with purple flowers.
A small frail plant with purple flowers.

The little hairs have a sticky sap globule on the ends.
The little hairs have a sticky sap globule on the ends.

I’ve never noticed this plant here before and I’m not sure if that’s because it was never here, or because I just never noticed it. Of all the driveway flowers I normally pay attention to, this is one of the smaller ones I’ve ever noticed.

It’s only about a foot tall, and fairly frail and the flowers are small. But the entire top half of it has little sticky hairs all over it. The seeds of this plant contains an oil that is being researched for biofuel and for use in cosmetics and food.

I couldn’t find much about it on the internet, but it’s a member of the Loosestrife family. The common name is Tarweed, or Blue waxweed. It’s one I want to learn more about.

Well, that was the end of my driveway walk. After taking that last photo I hiked my way back up the hill and didn’t stop again until I reached the house.

Orange Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

In keeping with the “spotted” theme of my last post, here’s an orange spotted jewelweed flower. I’m always trying to get the perfect photo of this flower.

A dream set-up would be when the sun is shining just *so* on it, to give the illusion of stained glass. There would be some nice glistening drops of water at least in the frame somewhere.

In the meantime, I snap a pic when I see a pretty one.

Orange spotted jewelweed
Orange spotted jewelweed

Later on as the plants begin to make seeds, I’ll try to collect some. Today I collected common milkweed seeds and some Echinacea purpurea. I’ll get these packaged up in some pretty way to sell at the farmer’s market soon.

Seeds on the list to be collected:

  • Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
  • Great Blue Lobelia (L. siphilitica)
  • Milkweed (Asclepias spp.)
  • Thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana)

Perhaps next year I’ll be able to add our wild-simulated American ginseng to the list. This year all of the seeds I collected went back to replanting the hillsides.

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’ll have seedlings at the Huntsville (AR) farmer’s market and the Fayetteville (AR) 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. Use the button below to pay for reserved plants to pick up later in May, or to mail-order plants that will be shipped in May. (More information is on that page).

Buy your first year ginseng seedlings from Wild Ozark

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. If you want to stay posted on what’s going on with Wild Ozark, sign up for my monthly newsletter. Next year I’ll start doing slide show presentations around the area and those will be announced through the list as well. You will not receive my regular blog posts through this announcement list.

Don’t Pick the (Hemlock) Flowers

 Take it from our grand-daughter. Don’t pick the hemlock flowers.

A couple of weeks ago, Karter’s bouquet caused painful blisters. She picked wildflowers on an outing with her mom and friends down by the river. All the grandkids always love to pick flowers when they come over here, too. But from now on, they know not to pick the hemlock flowers. I told them just to not pick any white flowers at all, just to be sure.

If you have never seen what poison hemlock or water hemlock sap can do to a person’s skin, it’s a good thing to know.

If you don’t know what these plants look like, that, too is a good thing to learn. Here’s one of the large poison hemlock flowers. I posted about this a couple of months ago.

Poison hemlock flowers
Poison hemlock, Conium maculatum.

There’s another, smaller, variety of hemlock (Cicuta maculata) that goes by the common name “water hemlock”. It looks similar to Queen Anne’s lace and often grows side by side with it. That’s the one Karter picked when she was picking the QAL down by King’s river.

The sap causes terrible blisters and sunlight magnifies the effect.

This is a pic of the smallest blister Karter had.

Blister caused from poison hemlock contact on 4-year old girl.
The smallest blister.

When the blister on her arm leaked fluid, it left a burn mark all the way down her forearm. My daughter didn’t know she had picked them, and didn’t realize every minute longer in the sun that day was making the situation worse.

By the time she broke out in the blisters, it was too late to just wash off the poison. Her babysitter put baking soda on the blisters when they sprang up the first day, and when Karter came to stay with me for the night, she said that helped it feel a lot better.

She stayed with me the next day and I kept her plastered with clay. It was mixed with goldenseal tincture and more baking soda. Karter said it was cold when I put it on there and that it felt nice.

Those lumps are the blisters under the clay, not clay lumps.
Those lumps are the blisters under the clay, not clay lumps.

The clay helped to keep any of the oozing fluid from draining on adjacent skin. Here’s a pic of sweet little Karter wearing mud on her face.

Cute little face full of mud.
Cute little face full of mud.

I don’t know if the clay did much to help, but it did make it feel better and I don’t want another opportunity to compare not using it. The blisters are dried up and her face thankfully never got blisters, just burns. It doesn’t look like it’ll scar. The burn on her arm might, though. Maybe her fingers too.

Elderberry Flowers Oil Infusion

Elderberry at Wild Ozark
American elderberry, Sambucus canadensis

Elderberry flowers have a light, sweet fragrance and all manners of pollinators love them.

Which Elderberry Flowers?

The variety I’m using for this is Sambucus canadensis, which is the native elderberry in our area.  Black elderberry (S. nigra) is the european comparative variety. Don’t use red elderberry if it grows in your area because that one is toxic.

Step by Step

  • Pick the elderberry flowers. But don’t pick ALL of the flowers. Save some for the pollinators and some to make berries for you and the birds.

Fresh elderberry flowers.
Fresh elderberry flowers.

Choose only the fresh flowers, just opened and not turning brown yet. You’ll have to pull the branches down where you can reach them if the flowers are too high.

  • Cut them and let them drop into your bowl.

Don’t cut all of the flowers so there will be some left for the pollinators and for berries.

Be forewarned. You’ll get showered with bugs and old petals while you’re doing this.

  • Separate the petals from the stems.
  • Spread them out on a pan and let them sit for a few minutes outside so the bugs can vacate the premises. I put them on a sheet of kraft or parchment paper, on the pan.

When you’re ready to transfer them into the jar, you can use the paper like a funnel.

Spread them outside on a pan to let the bugs escape.
Spread them outside on a pan to let the bugs escape.

 

  • Add the flowers to a jar.
  • Cover with the oil of your choice and put a cap on the jar. I used macadamia nut because I had it on hand, and coconut oil because I didn’t have enough of the macadamia alone.

Elderflowers infusing in the sun.
Elderberry flowers infusing in the sun.

  • Let it sit in the sun to infuse all day. Every once in a while turn the jar to move the oil around.
  • Strain the next day into a fresh jar. Use a wooden spoon to press the flowers to get every last drop. I had more than would fit in the pint, so grabbed another smaller jar to capture the rest.

Straining the infusion.
Straining the infusion.

  • Label your treasure! This is something I am trying to do better at.

It’s one thing for me to know what’s in a jar or bag by smell, it’s another when I have to ask someone else to retrieve something for me, based upon my description of that smell or taste. If I’m not able to physically retrieve it myself because of injury or any other reason, I need to have them labeled so someone else can do it.

Case in point is when I wanted to slather on some healing balms after my ACL/meniscus tear and couldn’t walk down the stairs to get it myself. With nothing labeled, it would have been hard to ask Rob to bring what I needed.

Labeled infusion.
Labeled infusion.

  • Strain it again the next day. Use a fresh jar and transfer the label to it. After the tiny bit of moisture from the flowers has had time to gather itself together and form little bubbles or globs beneath the oil, you need to strain it again.

This time use a piece of paper towel and pull it through the funnel until you have most of it out of the bottom. Then cut off the paper towel so only an inch or so hangs beneath the funnel.

  • Then put two coffee filters opened in the funnel and pour the oil through the coffee filters first. it’ll be slow to go through so you might have to wait a bit before pouring again. Between the coffee filter and the paper towel, the little bit of moisture should get captured.

Your resulting oil should be crystal clear with a yellow tint and the scent should be lovely and light.

  • Let me know if you make this and how you used it. I’ll be using it in lip balms this time. When the tubes arrive next week, I’ll document the process and share that here in a blog post too, so stay tuned.

Happy Harvesting!

Email me if you’d like this post in PDF format. [email protected]

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!

Woodland Flowers of June at Wild Ozark

It’s been awhile since I’ve wandered with the camera, but this morning on my way to town I brought the camera just so I could capture some of my favorite woodland flowers blooming along the driveway and county road.

Wild hydrangea blooms all along the shady, moist places on our driveway. It's one of my favorite woodland flowers.
Wild hydrangea blooms all along the shady, moist places on our driveway. It’s one of my favorite woodland flowers.

The sparsely petaled wildflower in the photo above is the original version. It’s the wildflower that blooms alongside creeks and other moist shady places.

You might recognize the hybridized version more easily. I saw this one blooming today at Compton Gardens in Bentonville, AR when I went out there to check on our little ginseng sanctuary:

A hybridized version of the wild hydrangea.
A hybridized version of the wild hydrangea. This one is blooming now at Compton Gardens in Bentonville, AR.

There were some other pretty little flowers blooming in the same area as the wild hydrangea. I’m not sure what these are and right now I don’t have time to look it up, but if you know, please leave a comment to tell me.

When I have time, if no one has volunteered the identity, lol, I’ll look it up and add the name. I’ve only noticed them in the shade, so I’m assuming they’re also woodland flowers and prefer the shady places.

unknown little flower- well, *I* don't know what it is, but if you do, please let me know!
unknown little flower- well, *I* don’t know what it is, but if you do, please let me know!

Every year I look for the jewelweed flowers, and every year I take photos. It doesn’t matter that I already have probably hundreds of them in the files. It’s the same with bloodroot, and all the other woodland flowers. I just can’t help it.

Orange spotted jewelweed.
Orange spotted jewelweed, another of my favorite woodland flowers.

Black cohosh is one I’m always watching and waiting for. This woodland flower is borne at the top of a stem stretching far above the main plant. Every year I try to get a good photo of the whole plant, and every year I fail. It’s just too tall from tip of the spire to the leaves at the bottom.

So this time I took three photos- one of the flower, one of the middle stem portion, and one of the base. Then I stitched them together in photoshop. It’s not perfect, and you can see in the top where the stems don’t meet just right.

But it gives a better look at the whole plant than any single photo of the whole plant I’ve managed to get so far.

Black cohosh from tip to toes, one of my favorite woodland flowers.
Black cohosh from tip to toes, one of my favorite woodland flowers.

Once I managed to quit stopping to take photos I got on with the rest of my trip. Compton Gardens was the intended destination, but then The Artist Retreat Center in Bella Vista became a spontaneous destination since I was already in the neighborhood.

While at the ARC, I enjoyed a quick walkabout in the woodlands and visited with Sara while we cooked up a plan to have a public nature walk. If you’d be interested in attending such a thing – we’ll do a plant walk and nature journaling session, contact Sara through the ARC’s FB page and let her know. We haven’t settled on a date or participant cost yet, but public interest (or lack thereof) will help us figure it out.

Here’s a few of the plants we encountered there:

Wild geranium, one of the woodland flowers at the ARC in Bella Vista, AR.
Wild geranium

Immature pawpaw fruit.
Immature pawpaw fruit.

Tattered wings on a sunlit thistle.
Tattered wings on a sunlit thistle.

Anyway, there’s the photo summary of my day today, minus the boring grocery store and hardware shopping. Hope you enjoyed!

April Spring flowers in the Ginseng Habitat

Lots of flowers in the ginseng habitat right now. The following are just a sample.

Wild Ginger

If you don’t mind getting down on the ground, you can see the wild ginger (Asarum canadense) blooming.

Flowers are usually just below the leaf litter at the base of the stems.

Wild ginger, <i>Asarum canadense</i>
Wild ginger, Asarum canadense

Mayapple

The mayapples are blooming too.

Mayapple, <i>Podophyllum peltatum</i>
Mayapple, Podophyllum peltatum

Doll’s Eye

This plant is also called White Baneberry, and it is by that name that I’ve used it in a 100-word flash fiction story. The berries and roots are very toxic, but it is one of the best habitat indicators for ginseng.

Doll’s Eye looks very much like black cohosh until it blooms, but I think I’ve finally figured out a way to differentiate at least the mature plants before flowering.

 

Doll's Eyes, <i>Actaea pachypoda</i>
Doll’s Eyes, Actaea pachypoda

Goldenseal

This medicinal herb is one of the most recognizable of the ginseng companion plants. It blooms in April, too.

Goldenseal, <i>Hydrastis canadensis</i>
Goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis

Jack in the Pulpit

These are interesting plants. Although they resemble pitcher plants, the two are not related. Whereas the pitcher plant is carnivorous, the jack in the pulpit is not.

Jack in the Pulpit, <Arisaema triphyllum</i>
Jack in the Pulpit,

No Flowers Yet on the Ginseng

The ginseng seedlings are just barely coming up now. Some are a few days old, some are almost a week, and some were still in the process of unfurling.

American ginseng seedlings.
American ginseng seedlings.

Flower buds on older plants are held tight and closed still and the flower stalk is barely there at the center of the prong junction.

Many blooming flowers in the ginseng habitat, but ginseng isn't one of them, yet.
Many blooming flowers in the ginseng habitat, but ginseng isn’t one of them, yet.

 

Early Spring Plants of the Woodlands in Madison County Arkansas

I got a late start photographing the early spring plants this year (2017). They started without me and I’ve already missed some of them.

These are some of the plants unfurling and blooming on April 1 in the woodland habitats here at Wild Ozark.

Early Spring Plants

Large Bellwort <i>(Uvularia grandiflora)</i>
Large Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora)

This late afternoon shot of fern fiddleheads is my favorite photo (so far) of this year’s plant-looking expeditions.

My favorite photo of the early spring plants of the ginseng habitat this year.
Christmas fern new fronds unfurling. (Polystichum acrostichoides)

Every year I try to capture Dutchman’s Breeches in a good light and in good focus. Every year the photo falls short, but this one is close. With all the ghostly little pantaloons hanging on the stem at different angles and heights, it’s hard to get them all to look crisp and sharp.

Dutchman's Breeches <i>Dicentra cucullaria</i>
Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

Phlox is another one that’s hard to get a good photo of. Luckily, this time, the day was overcast and the purple didn’t wash out as it usually does.

Phlox, not sure which variety or species.
Phlox, not sure which variety or species.

I’m pretty sure the plant in the following photo is black cohosh (Actaea racemosa). Doll’s eyes are a smaller plant but the leaf and stem structure is very similar. I’ll know for sure in late summer when it starts to bloom.

Black cohosh or Doll's eyes? When it blooms I'll know for sure.
Black cohosh or Doll’s eyes? When it blooms I’ll know for sure.

The purple violets bloomed earlier and are still blooming, but it’s the unusual that catches my eye with violets. I don’t see many smooth yellow violets, though I see a few more of the downy yellow ones.

Smooth Yellow Violet <i>Viola pubescens</i>
Smooth Yellow Violet (Viola pubescens)

Here’s a violet that has me stumped. I can’t find a description for it so I can give it a proper name. If you know it, please let me know too!

Unidentified violet.
Unidentified violet.

That’s All for Today!

Here’s a post featuring photos of the hazelnut and witch hazel flowers in March (2018).  Hope you enjoyed the wildflower woodland plant virtual walkabout. What’s blooming in the woods in your neck of the woods?

Watching for Witch Hazel Flowers

Witch Hazel Flowers

Witch hazel flowers are an interesting sight to behold. The petals on the small flowers are thin and wild. The shrub blooms during the most unlikeliest time of the year.

It is one of my favorite plants in the Ozarks. She is an untamed rebel, even if she or her hybridized cousins do grow well in urban gardens or hedgerows.

Two Wild Species

We have two varieties of witch hazel here in the Ozarks. One blooms in late fall and the other blooms in late winter.

H. virginiana

Hamamelis virginiana is by far the most abundant here on our land. This witch hazel blooms in late fall with spidery yellow flowers. Sometimes you’ll even see it blooming after the leaves have dropped off.

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) flowers and autumn color.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) flowers and autumn color.

H. virginiana grows in many areas east of the Rockies in the United States, usually around water’s edge or in rich, moist woodlands.

Witch hazel leaves in summer. (H. virginiana)
Witch hazel leaves in summer. (H. virginiana)

H. vernalis

The other species is called Ozark Witch Hazel, or Vernal Witch Hazel. This one is endemic only to the Ozarks and blooms in late winter or very early spring. These witch hazel flowers are more of a reddish, orange color. I’ve heard they have a delightful fragrance, too, but I haven’t caught them in full bloom to get a firsthand experience.

Ozark witch hazel flowers, just before the petals opened or right after they fell off. This photo was taken in Feb. 2015.
Ozark witch hazel flowers, just before the petals opened or right after they fell off. This photo was taken in Feb. 2015.

I know where some are, though, and am going to go check on them today or tomorrow. If I’m lucky, I’ll add the pics to this post. And let you know if, indeed, they do smell nice.

Update Feb. 6, 2017: Found some!

Vernal witch hazel blooming on Feb. 6, 2017
Vernal witch hazel blooming on Feb. 6, 2017

Rob and I went out to do a little exploring along the upper Felkins creek and we found some blooming! And YES, they do smell nice. The scent isn’t powerful but it is sweet.

During early spring of 2015 I took cuttings and was having some success with them, but an unusual landslide-producing epic flood wiped out the nursery that summer.

When I do find them, I plan to take some cuttings. If they root, I’ll have some to offer in the Nature Boutique nursery this year.

You can read more about the Ozark Witch Hazel in this article at the Springfield News-Leader.

Witch Hazel in my Fiction

In the first book of the Bounty Hunter series, Treya tries chewing on a witch hazel twig. I’m going to cut a twig tomorrow and see if it’s as nasty as she thinks it is. If it’s not so bad, I’ll have to rewrite this scene.

Update: When we found the flowers blooming, I did taste a twig and it was NOT unpleasant and it did not pucker my mouth. I’ll have to update that passage.

 

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!

Wild Mountain Mint – Whiteleaf Mountain Mint

Wild mountain mint grows in abundance here at Wild Ozark. This particular variety is called White-leaf Mountain Mint.

White-leaf Wild Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum albescens)

I love this wild mountain mint. It adds a nice flavor to my cold/flu/crud herbal syrup when I remember to gather it during late summer. This year I did 🙂

Recently I discovered, quite by accident and out of desperation that it works extremely well against the biting flies – you know those ones that chase the deer around and love to bite the tender skin of humans as soon as they hit you? Those demons fly faster than I can drive on the 4-wheeler, too, so there’s no outrunning them.

Deer Fly Repellent

Not long ago I went up on the mountain to get some photos of the goldenseal. Once I got up there the flies attacked. Usually there’s a can of OFF in the basket, but not this time.

I tried to get ahead of them, but it did no good. Their little triangle wings must give them super powers. In a frenzied craze I saw the stand of mountain mint and grabbed a handful of tops. I just crushed them into my skin, rubbing myself down.

And all of a sudden, poof! The flies were gone.

Wild mountain mint is good stuff.
Wild mountain mint is good stuff.

 

Wild Mountain Mint Species of northwest Arkansas

There are a few different species of wild mountain mint. The Pycanthemum species in northwest Arkansas, according to the “Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Arkansas” are P. muticum, P. pilosum, and P. albescens. Only the muticum and albescens are listed for Madison county, which is where we are.

Those two look similar, but the P. muticum has broader leaves and I am pretty sure the variety we have is the albescens.

Uses

Aside from just smelling nice, mint has useful properties. Probably the most well-known medicinal use is in tea to help settle stomachs. That quality works well with the herbal syrup I make, but mostly I’m using it for flavor. Peppermint (or any other mint) tea has never been something I enjoy.

According to Altnature.com, “Crushed flowers are placed on tooth ache and almost instantly kills pain. “ This is one of many attributes listed for this plant, but it’s one I think I’ll keep in mind for the future. Other medicinal uses include treatment of menstrual disorders, indigestion, mouth sores and gum disease, colic, coughs, colds, chills and fevers. A decoction of the herb can be used as a wound-wash.

Smell the Mint

The next time you see those white tops nodding along your path, forget about the roses. Stop and smell the mint!