How to Find Ginseng

By Jeri McBryde , last updated August 15, 2011
Finding ginseng is not as easy as it once was. It is now rarely found in the wild and the herb has been exploited by man for centuries. The ginseng root is valued as an aphrodisiac and is the most widely used herb in oriental medicine. In the United States, ginseng can be found growing wild in a path or swath that ranges from New York to Alabama and as far west as Missouri.
Ginseng is a herb, harvested for its roots. Ginseng is also known as manroot due to its roots often resembling an old man with long tapered arms and legs and a wrinkled face shape. The roots range in color from creamy yellow to white. Ginseng has small, greenish flowers in spring and summer, followed by small bright red berries. The leaves are compound and have five serrated leaflets. It takes the plant five to six years to grow to maturity. It ranges in height from seven to twenty-one inches in height. However, the roots can live over 100s of years.
Before looking for ginseng, find out when the ginseng season is open in your state. Harvesting ginseng is regulated by the individual states and may require a license. You need a permit to hunt for ginseng in National Forests. Always ask permission before going on private land. The herb is found in moist, rich woods. It grows on the slopes of ravines and in shady hardwood forests. You’ll need a digging tool, specialized tools or a simple flathead screwdriver will do. After digging up the root, wipe away the leaves and dirt. Check the root scars, each scar bud represents a year. Harvest only mature roots that are at least 5 years old. Carefully replant younger plants. Take along a sack for transporting your ginseng. After digging up the ginseng root, always gather up and replant the seeds. Doing this will help to insure ginseng‘s existence for generations to come.
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