What Does Ginseng Look Like? (Solved & Explained!)

The root is generally what people think of when ginseng comes to mind. The root is reminiscent of ginger until it gets bigger when it begins to look more unique and similar to a human body, with younger plants having just an arm or leg and older plants having the entire body (two arms, two legs, torso).  

The berries are shiny and green until they’re ripe when they turn a bright red. The berries grow at the end of the stalk in a bundle or group of berries. This is also called ginseng fruit. 

The leaves are similar to strawberry leaves and they grow in 3’s. They’re green until the plant is in-season when they begin to yellow (this is the time when the berries are red). 

The plant will be 1-2 inches tall after the first year. It will grow up to 24 inches in 7 years when the plant is considered mature. 

What does the ginseng plant look like?

The ginseng plant will have leaves that grow in 3 and resemble strawberry leaves. The berries are bright red (when ripe) and grow in a cluster at the top of a stalk, which grows up to 12-24 inches tall. 

What does the ginseng berry look like?

The ginseng berry is a bright red. It grows in clusters at the top of the plant in the fall. They’re shiny and they’re bright. If you’re unsure if you’re looking at a ginseng berry, the foliage of the plant will give tell: if the leaves are yellowing and the berries are bright red, it’s most likely ginseng.

What does the ginseng root look like?

The root of a ginseng plant can look like just plain white roots if it’s not an old plant. Older plants will be reminiscent of ginger. The biggest plants will be akin to a human in some ways. The root may look like an arm, a leg, or even a full body.

What does a ginseng seed look like?

A ginseng seed will be white, off-white, to a tan color. It almost resembles a flat or smashed peanut. The seeds shouldn’t have a smell, but if they do, it’s probably bad.

Where can you buy ginseng?

Ginseng could be available at your local farmers’ market, but you can also search online for retailers within your country. Ginseng is highly regulated in some places, so it would be wise to check your local and state regulations to make sure your activities around ginseng are legal.

Where can you sell ginseng?

You can find buyers online or you can find wholesale buyers to purchase your ginseng roots, berries, and seeds. You can sell ginseng locally at farmers’ markets, or wherever you can find a market for it, as it’s a high-demand and profitable cash crop.

Where can you find ginseng?

Ginseng generally prefers a north to north-east facing slope with well-draining but moist soil. They also prefer mostly shade and a good dose of morning sunlight. Afternoon sunlight can be the difference between a plant that thrives and a plant that dies in the heat.

Where does ginseng grow?

The Appalachians are a rich and diverse ecological region where you can still find some wild ginseng plants. Ginseng often grows in eastern and central United States and southeastern Canada.

What conditions will ginseng grow in?

Ginseng prefers north to northeast facing slopes with 75% canopy shade. The soil needs to be well-draining, but moist. If you think of where moss would grow, that’s generally the conditions that ginseng prefers. They may grow on other slopes, north to north-east facing slopes will prove to be likely growing places.

How do I identify a ginseng plant?

The leaves will be similar to strawberry leaves, growing in 3’s. The berries, when they’re in season, will be a bright red color and cluster in a sort of bundle at the end of a stalk of the plant. The roots will be a whitish color, resembling the color of ginger. The roots will take the shape of a person if allowed to mature. 

What is ginseng used for?

Ginseng has a long history, dating back at least 2000 years as a medicinal plant. The berries can be used for energy, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory. The root can be used to regulate diabetes and cholesterol levels. While ginseng is not a “cure-all,” it does have many healing properties that have been used by many cultures for many ailments.

It’s important to note that ginseng may have lots of medicinal properties, but it’s wise to consult your primary physician before using the plant. Some medications in combination with ginseng may prove fatal.

How do I grow ginseng?

You can grow ginseng in a well-draining pot or outdoors. You can choose to use seeds and plant in the Fall or you can use rootlings and plant them in the Spring. If the seeds have not been stratified, they will not germinate and they will not produce, so it’s important to get your seeds from a reputable source.

How do I stratify ginseng seeds?

Ginseng seeds can be stratified by putting them in something water permeable but well-draining, adding layers of sand and berries, and burying them for one winter about 3 inches from the soil surface. It takes 2 winter seasons before the seeds will sprout. This process protects the seeds until the following year to be dug up and planted.

How do I harvest ginseng roots?

When harvesting ginseng roots, it’s important to give the roots a wide diameter so that when you dig for the plant, you don’t break them. Pull the root gently away from the earth and try to remove it without breakage. You’ll want the largest roots for the most profit.

How do I harvest ginseng berries?

You can cut the plant, or just pick them. Most experienced ginseng gurus will replant the berries when they harvest a ginseng plant because the harvest will kill the plant. This regenerates the plant and helps keep the endangered plant alive.

How do I harvest ginseng seeds?

Ginseng seeds are harvested from the berries that grow and mature in and after the fall during the 3rd year of the plant’s life. You can just cut the top off or pick the berries. The berries will need to be stratified for their first winter, and then they can be planted the following fall. When the berries are stratified it reduces the berry to just the seed.