I've been reading up on growing Ginseng since a large portion of the property we just purchased in Northeast Alabama fits the description of what ginseng likes. Last week I went out scouting to what I thought would be a good spot and saw several of these plants. I think they might be ginseng. I didn't look at this spot in fall so I don't know if they had berries.
I've looked at a lot of pictures online and they look slightly different but they mostly show mature leaves with berries so I'm wondering if my leaves look different because it's early in the season or if it's just a different plant entirely.
These were all taken on a north facing slope under heavy hardwood cover a few feet above a perennial creek.
The leaf patterns are close enough that it would make you take a closer look at it if you saw it from a distance.
Young hickory sprouts often form nice 3 prong and 4 prong formations and will also make you take a closer look.... but like yours it is just a young tree sprout.
If you will notice the main stem that goes down to the ground has a woody type bark on it (ginseng does not have that). Young tree sprouts do.
Also the leaves (although close) are not quite right either.
Below is a pic of some ginseng I have growing in a seed producing bed. Notice the difference in the leaves (shape and color). Your plant leaves are quite a bit darker, and the leaves that point to the center of the cluster are too large on yours... with seng those leaves that point to the center of the cluster are quite a bit smaller than the ones that point out.
I've got the same problem can't identify it very good yet and I have a ton of those little trees growing everywhere. If anybody needs a buckeye tree let me know. I could loose a few without any worries. The first ones I saw were down by the fence then I looked up and realized they where trees. Was very dissapointed about that. Going to take my camera out Wednesday and take some more pics. Think I found some more ginseng but not sure.