Not sure if many of you have heard of Dwarf Ginseng before. It's another species of Ginseng native to North America. Like regular Ginseng it was used by native Americans for medicinal purposes. Although the Chinese herbalists are unaware of it, so it's not worth much on the market. Despite it's tiny size it's much more common than regular Ginseng (since it's hard to see and hasn't been hunted to near extinction) and grows in the same range. Anyway, originally (300+ years ago) the Chinese were unaware of American Ginseng. Until enterprising colonists and traders realized the potential and started marketing it to the Chinese. Makes me wonder if Dwarf Ginseng could be marketed to the Chinese.
With it being spring and all I decided to go out and look around for it on my property before all the heavy vegetation comes up and makes it hard to find. Well I found a ton of it. Pictures posted below
Well they are super small. This was a large one I found.
They seemed to be associated with this other little plant a lot. They seemed to like growing around roots of trees in damp peaty areas as well. Although it seems leaf cover inhibits them, but ferns don't to my surprise.
Finally the biggest problem marketing these to the Chinese would be the root shape. Due to it's tiny size and the damp soil it grows in the roots look like little chick peas. I'd have to look up Chinese lore, but they could be marketed as something to promote youth and vitality I suppose.
I'm betting you have them around. They're supposed to go from Maine to Alabama. They are just hard to spot. They get a flower on them that looks like a little white star burst and may already be in bloom in your area.
I'd think you'd have to sell it for more than regular ginseng considering the size. I mean if it takes a decade to get a root that tiny.
Around here regular wild ginseng is beyond rare. It makes me wonder if it was as common as these before it was over harvested.
Great post Ittiz. This little plant is one of my favorite woodland plants. I know the settlers and Indians used to use it as a food source by eating the small root both raw and cooked. Some refer to this plant as \"Ground Nut\". There is not much commercial value to it tho due to the fact that it contains little or no ginsenosides. But that does not diminish the historic value of this plant due to its use as a food source and it sure is a beautiful plant. Thanks for your post.
Is this little plant really related to Wild Gineseng? On many Spring Turkey hunts in West Virginia, I would often encounter these little plants growing all over some of the ridges, wooded hollows and some wooded valleys. When I first encountered them, I thought that they might be actual Ginseng that had just come up, so I dug a few of them to see the roots and knew right away they weren't Ginseng. If anyone knows of a market for these and if the prices are worth it, I would travel to West Virginia to dig some.
They are Ginseng, just the other of the two species that grow in North America. There haven't been many studies (only two I found) that look at Dwarf Ginseng and their results differ. Though both seem to show less gensenoids than American Ginseng. They were used my the native americans medicinally and from what I've heard they have a better taste than other ginsengs. I think it's the root shape that really turns the Chinese off.