A few days ago I took a walk out to the deep woods to see how the wild ginseng and habitat companions were doing.
The wild plants are in pretty hard to reach areas and I don’t get out there very often. When we plant seeds, we try to keep enough distance between the wild-simulated and the wild to avoid genetic pollution.
For more information on genetic pollution and diminishing variability in wild ginseng, here’s a couple of references:
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898772/ (this is about Russian ginseng, but the same principles most likely apply to American)
- http://wildginsengconservation.com/GeneticPollution.html (You’ll have to copy/paste that link – can’t make a live link because it’s not a secure site, and mine is)
The last time I took a look at this particular habitat area, it was in May, I believe. Ordinarily I can drive the 4-wheeler closer to the departure point. Not so on this trip today.
The trail had become overgrown with brambles. My quest to find wild ginseng in August was going to take a little longer than I expected.
I used a machete and hacked away for a while.
Bloody and sore after a few minutes, with still no progress, I called it quits and took off on foot uphill, toward the right. As soon as I got away from the trail, and started heading uphill, the going was a lot easier. No more brambles, at least.
I went out at late afternoon, so the light was already dim in the deep woods. Although I went looking for ginseng, I am always on the watch for other interesting plants.
Here’s one that caught my eye. There were only a few of them, all confined to one small area, much in the same way wild ginseng grows in small confined areas.
The photo isn’t very good because the light was very low right here. And I’m not good enough at using my camera to know how to compensate correctly for that, yet. Nothing I tried yielded a good focus.
The place where I found the orchids looked like it should have been a good place for ginseng, too, but there were none that I could see.
I did see some ginseng companion plants, though. Here’s Doll’s Eyes:
There was also maidenhair fern, blue cohosh, christmas ferns, goldenseal, and bloodroot present. I didn’t take many photos because daylight was fading fast and I still hadn’t found the ginseng.
However, a shaft of sunlight filtered between the tree canopies to fall on the nettles, and it made a beautiful photo so I had to stop for that:
Wood nettles are a great indicator of rich, moist, loamy soil – perfection for American ginseng. But there was still no ginseng in sight. I walked eastward a little longer, then downhill toward a spot I was fairly sure I could find some plants.
So I found a few plants and took a few pictures, and then it was time to get back to the trail before the sun went down much more and made it too difficult to find my way back!
Predator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.
Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.
About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.