Yeah with that tiny neck it is a wonder the root can take in enough water to send up to support a top at all.
It was growing near the top of a tall ridge but on the due north side with too much shade. Forest there has been growing undisturbed (no logging) for at least 45 years. I was just on my way to a different hollow and found it when passing by.
No sunlight, too dry conditions for much of the year, and probably lack of nutrients as well.
I once found a 4 prong that had a skinny neck for the first 7 or 8 bud scars and then the neck got 2-3 times as thick for the last 4 bud scars. It was growing right underneath a big tree that had been cut down with a chain saw. It's like when it finally got the sunlight it needed then boom. Anyway, I considered moving this root to my honey hole where the seng grows fast and big just to see what would happen with it.
Anybody ever done anything similar? Take an old but small root to a much better spot to see if it will take off?
Could be I guess. When I look up dwarf ginseng on google though the leaves look different on those. I've found lots like the above but the root usually isn't ball-shaped. They were all in very mature woods though.
Just took another look and clicked on one of the links.
\"Other than the differences in structure such as no stems on the leaflets and having yellow fruit it is notable for the short time it is above ground. By summer this plant is completely withered and gone. It is reported that the roots can be eaten.\"
This wasn't dwarf ginseng then. I just found it a few days ago and the leaflets had stems.
I've ran across regular american wild ginseng just like that with red berries and all. Like bglong said it must be missing something. Perhaps it's genetics or soil or sunlight or a combination of a couple of these? The couple of patches with tiny roots like that, that I've run into were in little flat depressions that may have held more moisture in the ground. And even with 25+ neck scars only held 2 or 3 berries and although I didn't dig them had several 2prong plants in the patch that I'm confident were over 15 years old. And the funny thing was that just 20 feet away there were normal sized plants. Perhaps it is excess moisture that causes this or just genetics. I don't know for sure, but these are my top 2 guesses.