Panax quinquefolius / Araliaceae
Rare - Endangered in TN
Somewhere in East Tennessee
July 20, 2008
I was thrilled to finally be able to photograph a ginseng flower in bloom! In my 24 years of identifying wildflowers this one has eluded me until today! One of my website visitors told me she would let me know when her plants bloomed. I promised her I would not divulge the location of her plants. I really hate to have to be a "Wildflower Snob", but there are just too many people who dig these plants illegally, so I won't say where I saw it.
The roots of ginseng (a.k.a "sang" in this part of the country) are dug, dried and sold, often to Asian countries. In the Smokies, rangers inject a harmless (to the plant and, I assume, people)orange dye into the roots of their ginseng so they can be identified if they are dug. These plants require specific conditions, so they are not easy to grow. Digging ginseng is not illegal (as long as it is not dug in parks or on private property without permission), but harvesters should leave some plants and scatter the ripe berries for future generations of new plants.