Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Hunted: Ginseng

I never realized how widely sought out and coveted the ginseng plant was till I read about it in the good ole' FoxFire books - and how the men of the Appalachian Mountains made a living off of ginseng hunting throughout the woods. They sold it for huge amounts of $$$, cause the wild stuff was apparently better then the kind which was cultivated - it became such a big deal they practically wiped the plant out of it's native exsistence! People who hunted 'sang before it went to seed were looked down upon, a good fella' waited till the Fall when it dropped it's seeds so that if the root was dug up, at least more plants could grow in that spot.
"Wild ginseng is ginseng that has not been planted and cultivated domestically, rather it is that which grows naturally and is harvested from wherever it is found to be growing. Wild ginseng is relatively rare and even increasingly endangered, due in large part to high demand for the product in recent years, which has led to the wild plants being sought out and harvested faster than new ones can grow (it requires years for a ginseng root to reach maturity).
There are woods grown American ginseng programs in Maine, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia.[30][31] and United Plant Savers has been encouraging the woods planting of ginseng both to restore natural habitats and to remove pressure from any remaining wild ginseng, and they offer both advice and sources of rootlets
The root is what has the strong medical qualities, most widely used for diabetes and erectal dysfunction ---> but in the old days people used it for less complicated problems like upset stomach, a burst of energy & hawt sex. ;)
The pictures here are of some ginseng plants I found near the Luck Cabin where I live - you can see in the pic below the tiny dots coming from the center of the stem that will turn into the red berries, that then become seeds. Me and Bort found this ginseng patch by accident when he stepped on one of the plants and I instantly thought ''''oh no, that was ginseng'''' ---> it took us a few minutes to give it a positive ID because many tree saplings have the exact same leaf pattern as ginseng and were surrounding the 'sang by the dozens...
The real dividing factor is the trees have a woody stem and the ginseng has a stem more similar to bloodroot - and the easiest way to tell for sure, are the berries that grow out the center.

So cool!!!! I feel rich just knowing the secret spot where it grows!


Lou Cheese said...

One of the reasons why wild produce is more valuable than the cultivated variety may be because the same minerals, nutrients, and phyto-chemicals which a wild plant uses to protect itself also provides a healthy benefit to human beings. There have been many studies which basically report that organically grown produce has a greater nutrient content than chemically treated crops, even though the yield of the treated crops is much greater. It's survival of the fittest, and if the next step up the food chain doesn't incorporate the fittest produce into their diet, their health may be compromised.

Producing more of lesser value seems to be the way of modern society. In more ways than one.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Mr Cheese -

YOu TO me, wild grown food is probably the most healthy, even more so then organic - when things are in balance, that is best.
I wonder sometimes though if our Genetics have been altered some, and our body strength by eating a farm diet instead of a wild one ---> as in sometimes i dont think my body can handle eating all wild foods - it tears through me cause I wasn't raised on it.

Ya know what I mean?

Lou Cheese said...

There's a few researchers who believe that many of the chronic diseases that are spreading exponentially today are due to monoculture chemical farming and the refining process of most mass-produced food items (which is deliberate, by removing the nutrients the food lasts longer...and when the taste is also taken out by the processing, they use chems to imitate it). And they don't believe it's limited to obesity and diabetes, either. They suspect that most chronic illnesses could be due to the nutrient-poor nature of the modern diet.

kirk said...

Cool--I tried to find ginseng on my sisters property in wisconsin--I know its there but i didn't have time to search the whole place while I was visiting.I dig a plant in the same family up here in north idaho called devils club--it's covered with all kinds of spikes large and small hence the name. I know of a man that actually grows ginseng up here in the woods-I would like to get some planted at my woods next fall.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

LOu Cheese-

I am total 100% agreement with that shit... it's not how much people are eating but what they are eating that makes them over weight, sick etc--- and the really bad thing is, once people get sick they can't do what needs to be done very easily to get healthy again. I never heard of the farmers/stores putting stuff back in the food chemically, that is really gross!
I get all my veggies from a local farm now, and I find that i feel way better - i keep my weight more stable (cause i lose weight real easy).
Food is such an easy and obvious connection to human health, i am not sure how people ever strayed away from that basic understanding to how far gone it is now-a-days.

Kirk -

Can you send a link to a picture of Devil's Club?

kirk said...'s_Club I dig the devils club in the fall for people with diabetes--the runners just under the forest duft don't have the spines--I peel the bark off these and make tea--tastes muddy and earthy similar to ginseng but they are quite different in action. The other plant I use for getting blood sugar under control is huckleberry leaves--they are picked in spring before the bush flowers.

Anonymous said...

Good sharing. Ginseng is used in traditional and herbal medicine to improve energy levels and concentration. Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer is one of the most well-studied species of ginseng with more than 70 published papers citing its various health promoting benefits. Read more at: