How, When and Why of Forest Farming Website

American Ginseng

Common NameAmerican Ginseng
Latin NamePanax quinquelfolius
Visual Traits
Flowermany in a terminal umbel
Foliage/Fall leaf colorbright golden-yellow fall color
Fruitfleshy red berry, usually 2 seeded but occasionally one or three white colored seeds
Height3 inches (seedlings) to 24 inches, rarely taller mature plants
Other valued traitsmedicinal use by many cultures, considered an adaptogen, attractive ornamental
Spread3 inches (seedlings) to 24 inches, rarely wider mature plants
Cultivation and Mulchingmulch with two inch layer of shredded sugar maple leaves
Field preparation and plantinghand till or shallow rottotill soil to 2 inch depth
Field spacing / planting depththin to one plant per square foot
Harvestusually harvested at 7 to 10 years or older
Pollinationprimarily self pollinated but some cross pollination by small bees
Propagation methodseeds only
Retail Sourceseveral
Seed harvestfall, when berries turn red, August to October
Seed treatment and storagerequires complex stratification, berries are usually depulped, mixed with coarse sand and buried for one year
Seedling treatmentprotect from slugs
Sowing seedfall planted in North, (September to November) up to February in south
Transplant2 year old and older roots easily transplanted after August
Watering guidelinesnot usually watered in forest
Insect and invertebrate pestsslugs, gray aphids, cutworms, stinkbugs,
PathogensPhytophthora cactorum, Alternaria panax, Rhizoctonia,Cylindrocarpon, (rust complexes)
Wildlife Pestsdeer are serious pests, as are voles
Compaction (tolerance)some
Fertility / qualitylow to moderate fertility
Mineralshigh calcium requirement
Moisture and drainageprefers moist but well drained
pHwide range from 3.6 to 7.6
Salt tolerancenone
Soils and topographyprefers mild to moderate slope, found midslope most often
Texturewide range from sand to clay loams
Growth Pattern
Fruit bearing age / full crop loadvaries with site from age 5 to age 10, full crop usually by age 10
Good seed crop interval (fruit load)annual if not eaten by critters
Growth rateslow, somewhat site dependent
Longevitypotentially very long lived, up to 150 years or more
Root habitperennial
Habitat and Climate
Exposurenorth, northeast preferred
Fire tolerancenone
Frost-free days (FFD)as few as 60
Growing degree days (GDD)wide range
Hardiness ZoneUSDA Zones 3,4,5,6,
Native Rangenorthern Georgia to Southern Quebec, west to Wisconsin, northern Arkansas and Alabama
Rainfall / humiditymoderate 35 to 55
Wind / ice / frost susceptibilitysomewhat frost tolerant in fall, less so in early spring
Light recommendationrequires 65 to 85% shade, optimal shade is in a mature sugar maple forest, 80% basal area
Shade tolerancehigh, up to 90% shade tolerated
Vegetation Associations
Competitive abilitycompetes well with native plants poorly with exotics i.e garlic mustard
Indicator speciesMaidenhair fern, rattlesnake fern, baneberry, blue cohosh (north). Goldenseal, black cohosh, bloodroot,spicebush (south). Competes well with most native plants, poorly with exotics ie.garlic mustard