By Kevin Stith
Oriental or Asian ginseng has been classified as Panax pseudoginseng Wallich and Panax schinseng Nees. It is native to Korea. Reaching a height of 0.8 to 1 meter, the plant resembles American ginseng.
Korean ginseng is also known as Asian ginseng, Asiatic ginger and Chinese Ginseng. Korean ginseng is a deciduous perennial shrub whose fleshy root requires 4-6 years of cultivation to reach maturity.
Korea possesses all the prerequisites to produce the best quality ginseng in the world: climate, soil and cultivation technology handed down from generations to generations that serve to obtain and maintain worldwide reputation as the Suzerain country of ginseng.
Cultivation of Korean ginseng started 1600 years ago by harvesting seeds from wild ginseng. However, mass production of Korean ginseng for commercial purpose was not possible until the late 16th century. During this period, artificial cultivation methods in flat fields were established by improving cultivation techniques slowly.
The ginseng plant produces one branch every year until the sixth year, when it attains its full maturation both in size and pharmacologically active ingredients. Cultivation of ginseng for more than four years is highly risky because the plant is very susceptible to soil-born pathogen and insects. That is why private enterprises prefer four year old ginseng root for the production of white ginseng.
Ginseng is known in many Asian countries as the king of all herbs. It is a knobby root light tan in color. Often the center part of the root resembles the human body, as string like shoots stem off from the root and can be seen as arms and legs.
Due to Korean ginseng's unique appearance, ancient herb doctors interpreted this perception to mean that ginseng was a cure-all for the entirety of human illness. Later many cultures started using ginseng to treat almost anything. Ginseng is used by the Chinese to cure nearly everything, and also as a symbol of longevity, strength and wisdom.