American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
2020 Update: At the Wild Ozark Ginseng nursery, ginseng is seeded and propagated in a dedicated natural space called the Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden. It’s a once-logged area that I’ve worked to recover and replant over the years with the native deep forest flora. I seed in natural habitat, not in pots. Usually each May I transplant to pots what I think might sell in a season.
Companion plants are seeded or transplanted within this same space. Some of these are seeded directly into pots, especially those that do not take well to being transplanted. If there is something you know you’ll want, let me know and I’ll make sure to collect seeds, divisions, or cuttings at the appropriate time. This is not a quick turnaround kind of nursery. Some plants, like the doll’s eyes and other ginseng relatives, take a few years to germinate and become establish well enough to be ready to sell. Others, like the wild hydrangea, are easy and only require one or two weeks after divisions.
With the uncertainty this year, I’m not going to plan for many sales. I’ll pot as I get orders and there will be about a week delay before you can pick them up, so the seedlings can adjust and I’ll know they will survive another transition to their final home (given that the environment is right for them in that home).
No mail order of potted seedlings this year. Pickup will be at the Kingston square, or you can pick them up at the nursery/habitat garden.
2-3 year old roots are available this year, as well as a few Companion Garden Pots with older ginseng plants and ginseng companions.
Buy Ginseng Seedlings in Arkansas
Wild Ozark is the place to buy ginseng seedlings in Arkansas!
Ginseng seedlings are available spring through summer, and ship out as bare-root beginning in October. This year I won’t be shipping potted seedlings. I’ll have a limited amount this year that can be picked up from the nursery here in northwest Arkansas. Or I will meet you at the square in Kingston, AR. There may be a limited number of bare-root seedlings I will ship in fall.
I’ll update this post at the end of April to let you know when I see how many seedlings will be available.
Wild Ozark is a certified American ginseng nursery, the first and/or only one in Arkansas.
TAKING ORDERS NOW, for potted seedlings-pickup or meet in Kingston only.
Bare root seedlings will be available to order in July, to be shipped as soon as the weather cools off. This is usually in late September-early October. I’ll update this listing with the price and inventory of bare-root available in July.
We start our seeds in the woods without tilling or bed preparations other than raking back the leaves. We don’t add fertilizers, or water, or give them any special treatment.
About a week after unfurling, we begin transplanting the ones I’ll sell as seedlings into pots. They can stay in the pots until fall if you put them in the shade in the woods, entire pot covered with leaves. The leaves help keep it from drying out, but if you have a drought, you may have to water to keep them alive in pots.
About American Ginseng
Panax quinquefolius, or American ginseng, is a medicinal herb native to eastern United States. It has a very narrow range of habitat requirements. Deep shade, deciduous tree cover, and cool moist soil with lots of humus marks an ideal location. The photo below shows what a mature plant with fruit looks like.
First year roots are small, usually around an inch long and second year aren’t much larger.
The younger your plants are when transplanted, the more likely your mature root will have the “wild” look. Wild roots are have more character and wrinkles than cultivated. The roots here in the Ozarks grow in ground with lots of rocks and tree roots, so the ginseng roots can be less uniform in shape and size because of that.
Here at Wild Ozark, we don’t water, fertilize, spray pesticides, fungicides, or weed or cultivate around our plants. They grow exactly in the same conditions as wild. All we did was drop the seed or plant the rootlet. Sometimes this means the plant won’t survive if conditions at any given time become harsh due to drought or excessive rain.
How do first year ginseng seedlings look?
They look a lot like wild strawberry plants, with only one prong and only three leaves:
The seedling roots you get in an order of bare-root plants will be considered two-year old plants the following spring after planting. The same goes for potted plants, too, of course.
When they come up they’ll either have one prong with four or five leaves, or two prongs each with four or five leaves. They’ll look like or similar to the ones below:
Before I ship the seedlings, the yellowing tops will be trimmed off and only the roots will be packed. Here’s how the roots look when packaged to ship:
Where does it grow?
It grows in eastern United States, mostly in hilly or mountainous areas, in mixed hardwood forest where the soil is loamy and the shade is dense. North facing slopes usually have the best conditions, but I’ve found it growing wild on all slopes. Southern facing is the most unusual, but it can happen in certain circumstances.
What kind of environment?
Ours grows under a hickory, oak, beech, maple, redbud mix. It doesn’t grow where only the oak and hickory grow. The leaf mat under only those trees is too dense for the buds to push through in spring. Look for these habitat companions to indicate great habitat for your first year ginseng seedlings:
- christmas fern
- maidenhair fern
- blue cohosh
- black cohosh
- pawpaw trees
There’s a lot of fungal mycelia present in the areas where the ginseng grows. In some areas there is white mycelia, but in the spot where I went today only the orange was there. Tilling the soil destroys these microorganisms.
The air is cooler in the moist woods where this plant grows, because of the shade and ground moisture. It also likes a nice thick layer of leaf cover on the ground – as long as the leaves are not hickory, oak, or conifers alone.
Learn more about ginseng at the Wild Ozark Ginseng website.