Usually, the fresh wild ginseng root weighs 1-10 grams and the dried wild ginseng root weighs 0.3-3 grams only. Woods-grown ginseng tends to have thicker necks, no clear markings on the main root, and more lateral roots (tails). In some parts of Asia, people mistakenly believed that high-quality wild ginseng roots have to be large in size and heavy in weight. The following are photos that may help the readers to tell the differences between wild ginseng and woods-grown ginseng.
American wild ginseng naturally grows within 32-47.5 degrees north latitude and 74-97 degrees west longitude, in the east part of central and north US forest. It grows well at altitudes of 200-1200 meters, with 5-45 degrees slope and 5-8% sunshine, and fertile humus layer of about 8-10 inches. The loose soil of the forest is usually black and granular, where the wild ginseng grows in groups. Thus, if one wild ginseng plant is found, then more plants should be expected nearby. However, one must be aware that there could be many ‘false wild ginseng’ plants surrounding the wild ginseng; therefore it could be very difficult for an inexperienced person to identify the true wild ginseng plant.
The buds of the ginseng plant will first emerge in mid-April. Unfortunately, about 5-10% of these buds will be damaged by birds, rabbits, deer, and other animals. Those scars left by the broken buds and leaves indicate the age of ginseng. In mid-May, the baby plants will grow to about 5 inches high. Between May and August, 10-15% of the ginseng stems and leaves are eaten by deer, which also leaves some scars.
From August to September, the seeds of the ginseng plant begin to mature and turn red. From the end of September to mid-October, the wild ginseng stems and leaves start to turn yellow and wither, and new overwintering buds grow. Every fallen stem and leaf will leave a scar on the neck of ginseng. Each indentation on the neck of the ginseng root represents one year of age.
These damaged buds will not be able to grow stems and leaves that year
With an average growing period of 10-45 years or more, American wild ginseng is rich in active ingredients, and its quality has been highly rated around the world. American wild ginseng has profound effects on every kind of illness of the human body.
The author has been digging wild ginseng in the same region of Pennsylvania for more than 10 years. The plants are still thriving; however, with continuous harvesting, he has found that each year, there will be about 10-15% less than that previous year.
There are two varieties of ginseng: one is wild ginseng and wild-simulated ginseng(government treats the wild-simulated ginseng as the wild ginseng ), the other kind is woods-grown ginseng and field-cultivated Ginseng. Wild-simulated ginseng results from merely scattering ginseng seeds in an area of the forest. The ginseng plants are left to grow in a balanced natural environment, without the help of gardening or pesticides. However, pesticides and fertilizers are usually used in the growing of woods-grown ginseng.
It is very important to differentiate between woods-grown and wild-simulated ginseng, for there is a large difference in their medicine contains. The government regards the simulated wild one the same as wild. Below are some useful guidelines.
2. At the same age (9 to 15 years old), wild-simulated ginseng has a similar size and weight to wild ginseng.