Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
economica e scientifica in lingua inglese con audio di ReadSpeaker e traduttore
automatico interattivo FGA Translate
Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
Clicca sul pulsante qui sopra per iscriverti alla nostra newsletter gratuita che
ti informerà su tutte le nostre novità e iniziative!
legge il testo inglese con una perfetta pronuncia
britannica e con il magico effetto karaoke. Per attivarlo clicca sul
pulsante Ascolta il testo che si trova qui sotto. Puoi anche
selezionare una parola, frase o porzione di testo e ascoltare solo
quella cliccando sul simbolino di altoparlante che apparirà vicino alla
porzione di testo selezionata.
Translate: selezionando con il mouse una qualsiasi porzione di testo,
FGA Translate te la traduce istantaneamente in una finestrella pop-up.
Per evitare eventuali conflitti tra ReadSpeaker e FGA Translate puoi
deselezionare quest'ultimo togliendo la spunta qui sopra.
ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
A Book of Valuable Information for
Growers as Well as Collectors
of Medicinal Roots, Barks,
BY A. R. HARDING
I. Plants as a Source of Revenue
II. List of Plants Having Medicinal Value
III. Cultivation of Wild Plants
IV. The Story of Ginseng
V. Ginseng Habits
VII. Shading and Blight
VIII. Diseases of Ginseng
IX. Marketing and Prices
X. Letters from Growers
XI. General Information
XII. Medicinal Qualities
XIII. Ginseng in China
XIV. Ginseng--Government Description, Etc.
XV. Michigan Mint Farm
XVI. Miscellaneous Information
XVII. Golden Seal Cultivation
XVIII. Golden Seal History, Etc.
XIX. Growers' Letters
XX. Golden Seal--Government Description, Etc.
XXI. Cohosh--Black and Blue
XXII. Snakeroot--Canada and Virginia
XXV. Seneca Snakeroot
XXVI. Lady's Slipper
XXVII. Forest Roots
XXVIII. Forest Plants
XXIX. Thicket Plants
XXX. Swamp Plants
XXXI. Field Plants
XXXII. Dry Soil Plants
XXXIII. Rich Soil Plants
XXXIV. Medicinal Herbs
XXXV. Medicinal Shrubs
When the price of Ginseng advanced some years ago hundreds engaged in
the business who knew little or nothing of farming, plant raising and
horticulture. That they largely failed is not to be wondered at.
Later many began in a small way and succeeded. Many of these were
farmers and gardeners. Others were men who had hunted, trapped and
gathered "seng" from boyhood. They therefore knew something of the
peculiarities of Ginseng.
It is from the experience of these men that this work is largely made
up--writings of those who are in the business.
Golden seal is also attracting considerable attention owing to the
rapid increase in price during the early years of the present
century. The growing of this plant is given careful attention also.
Many other plants are destined to soon become valuable. A work gotten
out by the government--American root drugs--contains a great deal of
value in regard habits, range, description, common names, price,
uses, etc., etc., so that some of the information contained in this
book is taken therefrom. The prices named in the government bulletin
which was issued in 1907 were those prevailing at that time--they
will vary, in the future, largely according to the supply and demand.
The greatest revenue derived from plants for medicinal purposes is
derived from the roots, yet there are certain ones where the leaves
and bark are used. Therefore to be complete some space is given to
these plants. The digging of the roots, of course, destroys the plant
as well as does the peeling of the bark, while leaves secured is
clear gain--in other words, if gathered when matured the plant or
shrub is not injured and will produce leaves each year.
The amount of root drugs used for medicinal purposes will increase as
the medical profession is using of them more and more. Again the
number of people in the world is rapidly increasing while the forests
(the natural home of root drugs) are becoming less each year. This
shows that growers of medicinal roots will find a larger market in
the future than in the past.
Those who know something of medicinal plants--"Root Drugs"--can
safely embark in their cultivation, for while prices may ease off--go
lower--at times, it is reasonably certain that the general trend will
be upward as the supply growing wild is rapidly becoming less each
A. R. Harding.
PLANTS AS A SOURCE OF REVENUE.
With the single exception of ginseng, the hundred of plants whose
roots are used for medical purposes, America is the main market and
user. Ginseng is used mainly by the Chinese. The thickly inhabited
Chinese Empire is where the American ginseng is principally used. To
what uses it is put may be briefly stated, as a superstitious
beverage. The roots with certain shapes are carried about the person
for charms. The roots resembling the human form being the most
The most valuable drugs which grow in America are ginseng and golden
seal, but there are hundreds of others as well whose leaves, barks,
seeds, flowers, etc., have a market value and which could be
cultivated or gathered with profit. In this connection an article
which appeared in the Hunter-Trader-Trapper, Columbus, Ohio, under
the title which heads this chapter is given in full:
To many unacquainted with the nature of the various wild plants which
surround them in farm and out-o'-door life, it will be a revelation
to learn that the world's supply of crude, botanical (vegetable)
drugs are to a large extent gotten from this class of material. There
are more than one thousand different kinds in use which are
indigenous or naturalized in the United States. Some of these are
very valuable and have, since their medicinal properties were
discovered, come into use in all parts of the world; others now
collected in this country have been brought here and, much like the
English sparrow, become in their propagation a nuisance and pest
The impression prevails among many that the work of collecting the
proper kind, curing and preparing for the market is an occupation to
be undertaken only by those having experience and a wide knowledge of
their species, uses, etc. It is a fact, though, that everyone,
however little he may know of the medicinal value of such things, may
easily become familiar enough with this business to successfully
collect and prepare for the market many different kinds from the
There are very large firms throughout the country whose sole business
is for this line of merchandise, and who are at all times anxious to
make contracts with parties in the country who will give the work
business-like attention, such as would attend the production of other
farm articles, and which is so necessary to the success of the work.
If one could visit the buyers of such firms and ask how reliable they
have found their sources of supply for the various kinds required, it
would provoke much laughter. It is quite true that not more than one
in one hundred who write these firms to get an order for some one or
more kinds they might supply, ever give it sufficient attention to
enable a first shipment to be made. Repeated experiences of this kind
have made the average buyer very promptly commit to the nearest waste
basket all letters received from those who have not been doing this
work in the past, recognizing the utter waste of time in
corresponding with those who so far have shown no interest in the
The time is ripe for those who are willing to take up this work,
seriously giving some time and brains to solving the comparatively
easy problems of doing this work at a small cost of time and money
and successfully compete for this business, which in many cases is
forced to draw supplies from Europe, South America, Africa, and all
parts of the world.
From the writer's observation, more of these goods are not collected
in this country on account of the false ideas those investigating it
have of the amount of money to be made from the work, than from any
other reason; they are led to believe that untold wealth lies easily
within their reach, requiring only a small effort on their part to
obtain it. Many cases may be cited of ones who have laboriously
collected, possibly 50 to 100 pounds of an article, and when it was
discovered that from one to two dollars per pound was not immediately
forthcoming, pronounced the dealer a thief and never again considered
In these days when all crude materials are being bought, manufactured
and sold on the closest margins of profit possible, the crude drug
business has not escaped, it is therefore only possible to make a
reasonable profit in marketing the products of the now useless weeds
which confront the farmer as a serious problem at every turn. To the
one putting thought, economy and perseverance in this work, will come
profit which is now merely thrown away.
Many herbs, leaves, barks, seeds, roots, berries and flowers are
bought in very large quantities, it being the custom of the larger
houses to merely place an order with the collector for all he can
collect, without restriction. For example, the barks used from the
sassafras roots, from the wild cherry tree, white pine tree, elm
tree, tansy herb, jimson weed, etc., run into the hundreds of
thousand pounds annually, forming very often the basis of many
remedies you buy from your druggist.
The idea prevalent with many, who have at any time considered this
occupation, that it is necessary to be familiar with the botanical
and Latin names of these weeds, must be abolished. When one of the
firms referred to receives a letter asking for the price of Rattle
Top Root, they at once know that Cimicifuga Racemosa is meant; or if
it be Shonny Haw, they readily understand it to mean Viburnum
Prunifolium; Jimson Weed as Stramonium Dotura; Indian Tobacco as
Lobelia Inflata; Star Roots as Helonias Roots, and so on throughout
the entire list of items.
Should an occasion arise when the name by which an article is locally
known cannot be understood, a sample sent by mail will soon be the
means of making plain to the buyer what is meant.
Among the many items which it is now necessary to import from
Germany, Russia, France, Austria and other foreign countries, which
might be produced by this country, the more important are: Dandelion
Roots, Burdock Roots, Angelica Roots, Asparagus Roots, Red Clover
Heads, or blossoms. Corn Silk, Doggrass, Elder Flowers, Horehound
Herb, Motherwort Herb, Parsley Root, Parsley Seed, Sage Leaves,
Stramonium Leaves or Jamestown Leaves, Yellow Dock Root, together
with many others.
Dandelion Roots have at times become so scarce in the markets as to
reach a price of 50c per pound as the cost to import it is small
there was great profit somewhere.
These items just enumerated would not be worthy of mention were they
of small importance. It is true, though, that with one or two
exceptions, the amounts annually imported are from one hundred to
five hundred thousand pounds or more.
As plentiful as are Red Clover Flowers, this item last fall brought
very close to 20c per pound when being purchased in two to ten-ton
lots for the Winter's consumption.
For five years past values for all Crude Drugs have advanced in many
instances beyond a proportionate advance in the cost of labor, and
they bid fair to maintain such a position permanently. It is safe to
estimate the average enhancement of values to be at least 100% over
this period; those not reaching such an increased price fully made up
for by others which have many times doubled in value.
It is beyond the bounds of possibility to pursue in detail all of the
facts which might prove interesting regarding this business, but it
is important that, to an extent at least, the matter of fluctuations
in values be explained before this subject can be ever in a measure
All items embraced in the list of readily marketable items are at
times very high in price and other times very low; this is brought
about principally by the supply. It is usually the case that an
article gradually declines in price, when it has once started, until
the price ceases to make its production profitable.
It is then neglected by those formerly gathering it, leaving the
natural demand nothing to draw upon except stocks which have
accumulated in the hands of dealers. It is more often the case that
such stocks are consumed before any one has become aware of the fact
that none has been collected for some time, and that nowhere can any
be found ready for the market.
Dealers then begin to make inquiry, they urge its collection by those
who formerly did it, insisting still upon paying only the old price.
The situation becomes acute; the small lots held are not released
until a fabulous price may be realized, thus establishing a very much
higher market. Very soon the advanced prices reach the collector,
offers are rapidly made him at higher and higher prices, until
finally every one in the district is attracted by the high and
profitable figures being offered. It is right here that every careful
person concerned needs to be doubly careful else, in the inevitable
drop in prices caused by the over-production which as a matter of
course follows, he will lose money. It will probably take two to five
years then for this operation to repeat itself with these items,
which have after this declined even to lower figures than before.
In the meantime attention is directed to others undergoing the same
experience. A thorough understanding of these circumstances and
proper heed given to them, will save much for the collector and make
him win in the majority of cases.
Books and other information can be had by writing to the
manufacturers and dealers whose advertisements may be found in this
and other papers.
LIST OF PLANTS HAVING MEDICINAL VALUE.
The list of American Weeds and Plants as published under above
heading having medicinal value and the parts used will be of especial
value to the beginner, whether as a grower, collector or dealer.
The supply and demand of medicinal plants changes, but the following
have been in constant demand for years. The name or names in
parenthesis are also applied to the root, bark, berry, plant, vines,
etc., as mentioned:
Balm Gilead (Balsam Poplar)--The Buds.
Bayberry (Wax-Myrtle)--The Bark of Root.
Black Cohosh (Black Snake Root)--The Root with Rootlets.
Black Haw (Viburnum. Sloe.)--The Bark of Root. The Bark of Tree.
Black Indian Hemp (Canadian Hemp)--The Root.
Blood Root--The Root with Fibre. The Root with no Fibre.
Blue Cohosh (Papoose Root. Squaw Root)--The Root.
Blue Flag (Larger Blue Flag)--The Root.
Burdock--The Root. The Seed.
Cascara Sagrada (Chittem Bark)--Bark of Tree.
Clover, Red--The Blossoms.
Cotton Root--The Bark of Root.
Cramp Root (Cranberry Tree. High Bush Cranberry)--The Bark of Tree.
Culver's Root (Black Root)--The Root.
Deer Tongue--The Leaves.
Elder--The Dried Ripe Berries. The Flowers.
Elecampane--The Root, cut into slices.
Elm (Slippery Elm)--The Bark, deprived of the brown, outside layer.
Fringe Tree--The Bark of Root.
Gelsemium (Yellow Jasmine) (Carolina Jasmine)--The Root.
Golden Seal (Yellow Root. Yellow Puccoon. Orange Root. Indian Dye.
Indian Turmeric)--The Root.
Gold Thread (Three-leaved Gold Thread)--The Herb.
Hops--These should be collected and packed in such a manner as to
retain all of the yellow powder (lupulin.)
Indian Hemp, Black (See Black Indian Hemp)
Lady Slipper (Moccasin-Flower. Large Yellow Lady Slipper. American
Valerian)--The Root, with Rootlets.
Lobelia (Indian Tobacco)--The Herb. The Seed.
Mandrake (May-apple)--The Root.
Passion Flower--The Herb.
Pipsissewa (Prince's Pine)--The Vine.
Poke--The Berries. The Root.
Prickly Ash (Toothache Tree. Angelica Tree. Suterberry. Pepper
Wood. Tea Ash)--The Bark. The Berry.
Sassafras--The Bark of the Root. The Pith.
Saw Palmetto--The Berries.
[Illustration: Senega Snake Root (Cultivated) in Blossom.]
Snake Root, Virginia (Birthwort-Serpentaria)--The Root.
Snake Root, Canada (Asarabacca. Wild Ginger. So-called Coltfoot
Spruce Gum--Clean Gum only.
Squaw Vine (Partridge Berry)--The Herb.
Star Root (See Unicorn False)
Star Grass (See Unicorn True)
Stillingia (Queen's Delight)--The Root.
Stramonium (Jamestown-weed. Jimson-weed. Thorn-apple)--The Leaves.
Unicorn True (Star Grass. Blazing Star. Mealy Starwort. Colic
Unicorn False (Star Root. Starwort)--The Root.
Wahoo (Strawberry Tree. Indian Arrow. Burning Bush. Spindle Tree.
Pegwood. Bitter Ash)--The Bark of Root. The Bark of Tree.
White Pine (Deal Pine. Soft Deal Pine)--The Bark of Tree, Rossed.
Wild Cherry--The thin Green Bark, and thick Bark Rossed. The dried
Wild Indigo (Horsefly Weed. Rattle-bush. Indigo Weed. Yellow
Indigo. Clover Broom)--The Root.
Wormseed, American (Stinking Weed. Jesuit Tea. Jerusalem Tea.
Jerusalem Oak)--The Seed.
Wild Yam (Colic Root. China Root. Devil's Bones)--The Root.
Yellow Dock (Sour Dock. Narrow Dock. Curled Dock)--The Root.
The following are used in limited quantities only:
Arbor Vitae (White Cedar)--The Leafy Tips.
Balmony (Turtle-head. Snakehead)--The Herb, free from large Stalks.
Beth Root (Trillium Erectum. Wake Robin. Birth-root)--The Root.
Birch Bark (Cherry Birch. Sweet Birch. Black Birch. Black Root (see
culvers root)--The Bark of Tree.
Blackberry (High Blackberry)--The Bark of Root.
Black Willow--The Bark. The Buds.
Boneset (Thoroughwort)--The Herb, free from large Stems.
Broom Corn--The Seed.
Broom Top (Scotch Broom)--The Flowering Tops.
Bugle Weed (Water Horehound) The Herb, free from large Stems.
Butternut--Bark of Root.
Chestnut--The Leaves, collected in September or October while still
Chicory (Succory)--The Root, cut into slices (Cross section.)
Corn Ergot (Corn Smut)--The Fungus, replacing the grains of corn.
False Bittersweet (Shrubby Bittersweet. Climbing Bittersweet.
Wax-wort. Staff-tree)--The Bark of Tree.
Garden Lettuce--The Leaves.
Geranium (Cranesbill)--The Root of the wild Herb.
Gravel Plant (May Flower. Ground Laurel. Trailing Arbutus)--The
Great Celandine (Garden Celandine)--Entire plant.
Hellebore, False (Adonis Vernalis)--The Root.
Hemlock--The Bark. The Gum.
Horse Nettle--The Berries. The Root.
Huckleberry--The Dried Berry.
Life Everlasting (Common Everlasting. Cudweed)--The Herb.
Life Root Plant (Rag-wort)--The Herb.
Maiden Hair--The Fern.
Milkweed (Pleurisy Root)--The Root cut into Sections lengthwise.
Mountain Ash (Mountain Laurel (See Sheep Laurel)--The Bark of Tree.
Mullein (Common Mullein)--The Leaves.
Peppermint The Leaves.--The Herb.
Pitcher Plant (Side-Saddle Plant. Fly Trap. Huntsman Cup. Water
Plantain (Rib-grass. Rib-wort. Ripple-grass)--The Leaves.
Poison Oak (Poison Ivy)--The Leaves.
Queen of the Meadow (Joe-Pye-Weed. Trumpet-Weed)--The Root.
Ragweed (Wild Red Raspberry)--The Leaves.
Rosinweed (Polar plant. Compass plant)--The Root.
Scouring Rush (Horsetail)--The Herb.
Sheep Laurel (Laurel. Mountain Laurel. Broad-leafed Laurel. Calico
Bush. Spoon Wood)--The Leaves.
Sheep Sorrel (Field Sorrel)--The Leaves.
Shepherd's Purse--The Herb.
Skunk Cabbage--The Root.
Stone Root--The Root.
Tag Alder--The Bark.
Tansy (Trailing Arbutus. See Gravel Plant)--The Herb.
Veratrum Viride (Green Hellebore. American Hellebore)--The Root.
Vervain (Blue Vervain)--The Herb.
Virginia Stone Crop (Dutch Stone Crop)
Wafer Ash (Hop Tree. Swamp Dogwood. Stinking Ash. Scrubby Trefoil.
Ague Bark)--The Bark of Root.
Water Avens (Throat Root. Cure All. Evan's Root. Indian Chocolate.
Chocolate Root. Bennett Root)--The Root.
Water Eryngo (Button Snake Root. Corn Snake Root. Rattle Snake's
Water Hemlock (Spotted Parsley. Spotted Hemlock. Poison Parsley.
Poison Hemlock. Poison Snake Weed. Beaver Poison)--The Herb.
Water Pepper (Smart Weed. Arsmart)--The Herb.
Water Ash--The Bark of Tree.
White Oak (Tanners Bark)--The Bark of Tree, Rossed.
White Ash--The Bark of Tree.
White Poplar (Trembling Poplar. Aspen. Quaking Asp)--The Bark of
Wild Lettuce (Wild Opium Lettuce. Snake Weed. Trumpet Weed)--The
[Illustration: Indian Turnip (Wild).]
Wild Turnip (Indian Turnip. Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Pepper Turnip.
Swamp Turnip)--The Root, sliced.
Wintergreen (Checkerberry. Partridge Berry. Teaberry.
Witch Hazel (Striped Alder. Spotted Alder. Hazelnut)--The Bark. The
Yarrow (Milfoil. Thousand Leaf)--The Herb.
Yellow Parilla (Moon Seed. Texas Sarsaparilla)--The Root.
Yerba Santa (Mountain Balm. Gum Plant. Tar Weed)--The Leaves.
CULTIVATION OF WILD PLANTS.
The leading botanical roots in demand by the drug trade are the
following, to-wit: Ginseng, Golden Seal, Senega or Seneca Snake Root,
Serpentaria or Virginia Snake Root, Wild Ginger or Canada Snake Root,
Mandrake or Mayapple, Pink Root, Blood Root, Lady Slipper, Black
Root, Poke Root and the Docks. Most of these are found in abundance
in their natural habitat, and the prices paid for the crude drugs
will not, as yet, tempt many persons to gather the roots, wash, cure,
and market them, much less attempt their culture. But Ginseng, Golden
Seal, Senega, Serpentaria and Wild Ginger are becoming very scarce,
and the prices paid for these roots will induce persons interested in
them to study their several natures, manner of growth, natural
habitat, methods of propagation, cultivation, etc.
This opens up a new field of industry to persons having the natural
aptitude for such work. Of course, the soil and environment must be
congenial to the plant grown. A field that would raise an abundance
of corn, cotton, or wheat would not raise Ginseng or Golden Seal at
all. Yet these plants grown as their natures demand, and by one who
"knows," will yield a thousand times more value per acre than corn,
cotton or wheat. A very small Ginseng garden is worth quite an
acreage of wheat. I have not as yet marketed any cultivated Ginseng.
It is too precious and of too much value as a yielder of seeds to dig
for the market.
Some years ago I dug and marketed, writes a West Virginia party, the
Golden Seal growing in a small plot, ten feet wide by thirty feet
long, as a test, to see if the cultivation of this plant would pay. I
found that it paid extremely well, although I made this test at a
great loss. This bed had been set three years. In setting I used
about three times as much ground as was needed, as the plants were
set in rows eighteen inches apart and about one foot apart in the
rows. The rows should have been one foot apart, and the plants about
six inches apart in the rows, or less. I dug the plants in the fall
about the time the tops were drying down, washed them clean, dried
them carefully in the shade and sold them to a man in the city of
Huntington, W Va. He paid me $1.00 per pound and the patch brought me
$11.60, or at the rate of $1,684.32 per acre, by actual measure and
[Illustration: Canadian Snake Root (Cultivated).]
This experiment opened my eyes very wide. The patch had cost me
practically nothing, and taking this view only, had paid "extremely
well." But, I said, "I made this test at a great loss," which is
true, taking the proper view of the case. Suppose I had cut those
roots up into pieces for propagation, and stratified them in boxes of
sandy loam through the winter, and when the buds formed on them
carefully set them in well prepared beds. I would now have a little
growing gold mine. The price has been $1.75 for such stock, or 75%
more than when I sold, making an acre of such stuff worth $2,948.56.
The $11.60 worth of stock would have set an acre, or nearly so. So my
experiment was a great loss, taking this view of it.
I am raising, in a small way, Ginseng, Lady Slipper, Wild Ginger and
Virginia Snake Root, and am having very good success with all of it.
I am also experimenting with some flowering plants, such as Sweet
Harbinger, Hepatica, Blood Root, and Blue Bell. I am trying to
propagate and grow some shrubs and trees to be used as yard and
cemetery trees. Of these my most interesting one is the American
Christmas Holly. I have not made much headway with it yet, but I am
not discouraged. I know more about it than when I began, and think I
shall succeed. There is good demand for Holly at Christmas time, and
I can find ready sale for all I can get. I think the plants should
sell well, as it makes a beautiful shrub. I think the time has come
when the Ginseng and Golden Seal of commerce and medicine will
practically all come from the gardens of the cultivators of these
plants. I do not see any danger of overproduction. The demand is
great and is increasing year by year. Of course, like the rising of a
river, the price may ebb and flow, somewhat, but it is constantly
[Illustration: Blood Root (Cultivated).]
The information contained in the following pages about the habits,
range, description and price of scores of root drugs will help
hundreds to distinguish the valuable plants from the worthless. In
most instances a good photo of the plant and root is given. As
Ginseng and Golden Seal are the most valuable, instructions for the
cultivation and marketing of same is given in detail. Any root can be
successfully grown if the would-be grower will only give close
attention to the kind of soil, shade, etc., under which the plant
flourishes in its native state.
[Illustration: Sarsaparilla Plant (Wild).]
Detailed methods of growing Ginseng and Golden Seal are given from
which it will be learned that the most successful ones are those who
are cultivating these plants under conditions as near those as
possible which the plants enjoy when growing wild in the forests.
Note carefully the nature of the soil, how much sunlight gets to the
plants, how much leaf mould and other mulch at the various seasons of
It has been proven that Ginseng and Golden Seal do best when
cultivated as near to nature as possible. It is therefore reasonable
to assume that all other roots which grow wild and have a cash value,
for medicinal and other purposes, will do best when "cultivated" or
handled as near as possible under conditions which they thrived when
wild in the forests.
Many "root drugs" which at this time are not very valuable--bringing
only a few cents a pound--will advance in price and those who wish to
engage in the medicinal root growing business can do so with
reasonable assurance that prices will advance for the supply growing
wild is dwindling smaller and smaller each year. Look at the prices
paid for Ginseng and Golden Seal in 1908 and compare with ten years
prior or 1898. Who knows but that in the near future an advance of
hundreds of per cent. will have been scored on wild turnip, lady's
slipper, crawley root, Canada snakeroot, serpentaria (known also as
Virginia and Texas snakeroot), yellow dock, black cohosh, Oregon
grape, blue cohosh, twinleaf, mayapple, Canada moonseed, blood-root,
hydrangea, crane's bill, seneca snakeroot, wild sarsaparilla,
pinkroot, black Indian hemp, pleurisy-root, culvers root, dandelion,
Of course it will be best to grow only the more valuable roots, but
at the same time a small patch of one or more of those mentioned
above may prove a profitable investment. None of these are apt to
command the high price of Ginseng, but the grower must remember that
it takes Ginseng some years to produce roots of marketable size,
while many other plants produce marketable roots in a year.
There are thousands of land owners in all parts of America that can
make money by gathering the roots, plants and barks now growing on
their premises. If care is taken to only dig and collect the best
specimens an income for years can be had.
THE STORY OF GINSENG.
History and science have their romances as vivid and as fascinating
as any in the realms of fiction. No story ever told has surpassed in
interest the history of this mysterious plant Ginseng; the root that
for nearly 200 years has been an important article of export to
Until a few years ago not one in a hundred intelligent Americans
living in cities and towns, ever heard of the plant, and those in the
wilder parts of the country who dug and sold the roots could tell
nothing of its history and use. Their forefathers had dug and sold
Ginseng. They merely followed the old custom.
The natural range of Ginseng growing wild in the United States is
north to the Canadian line, embracing all the states of Maine, New
Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island,
Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, West
Virginia, Virginia, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kentucky
and Tennessee. It is also found in a greater part of the following
states: Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North and South Carolina, Georgia
and Alabama. Until recently the plant was found growing wild in the
above states in abundance, especially those states touched by the
Allegheny mountains. The plant is also found in Ontario and Quebec,
Canada, but has become scarce there also, owing to persistent
hunting. It also grows sparingly in the states west of and bordering
on the Mississippi river.
Ginseng in the United States was not considered of any medical value
until about 1905, but in China it is and has been highly prized for
medical purposes and large quantities of the root are exported to
that country. It is indeed doubtful if the root has much if any
medical value, and the fact that the Chinese prefer roots that
resemble, somewhat, the human body, only goes to prove that their use
of the root is rather from superstition than real value.
Of late years Ginseng is being cultivated by the Chinese in that
country, but the root does not attain the size that it does in
America, and the plant from this side will, no doubt, continue to be
exported in large quantities.
New York and San Francisco are the two leading cities from which
exports are made to China, and in each of these places are many large
dealers who annually collect hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth.
The most valuable Ginseng grows in New York, the New England states
and northern Pennsylvania. The root from southern sections sells at
from fifty cents to one dollar per pound less.
Ginseng in the wild or natural state grows largely in beech, sugar
and poplar forests and prefers a damp soil. The appearance of Ginseng
when young resembles somewhat newly sprouted beans; the plant only
grows a few inches the first year. In the fall the stem dies and in
the spring the stalk grows up again. The height of the full grown
stalk is from eighteen to twenty inches, altho they sometimes grow
higher. The berries and seed are crimson (scarlet) color when ripe in
the fall. For three or four years the wild plants are small, and
unless one has a practical eye will escape notice, but professional
diggers have so persistently scoured the hills that in sections where
a few years ago it was abundant, it is now extinct.
While the palmy days of digging were on, it was a novel occupation
and the "seng diggers," as they are commonly called, go into the
woods armed with a small mattock and sack, and the search for the
valuable plant begins. Ginseng usually grows in patches and these
spots are well known to the mountain residents. Often scores of
pounds of root are taken from one patch, and the occupation is a very
profitable one. The women as well as the men hunt Ginseng, and the
stalk is well known to all mountain lads and lassies. Ginseng grows
in a rich, black soil, and is more commonly found on the hillsides
than in the lowlands.
[Illustration: Ginseng Plant and Roots.]
Few are the mountain residents who do not devote some of their time
to hunting this valuable plant, and in the mountain farm houses there
are now many hundred pounds of the article laid away waiting the
market. While the fall is the favorite time for Ginseng hunting, it
is carried on all summer. When a patch of the root is found the
hunter loses no time in digging it. To leave it until the fall would
be to lose it, for undoubtedly some other hunter would find the patch
and dig it.
How this odd commerce with China arose is in itself remarkable. Many,
many years ago a Catholic priest, one who had long served in China,
came as a missionary to the wilds of Canada. Here in the forest he
noted a plant bearing close resemblance to one much valued as a
medicine by the Chinese. A few roots were gathered and sent as a
sample to China, and many months afterwards the ships brought back
the welcome news that the Chinamen would buy the roots.
Early in its history the value of Ginseng as a cultivated crop was
recognized, and repeated efforts made for its propagation. Each
attempt ended in failure. It became an accepted fact with the people
that Ginseng could not be grown. Now these experimenters were not
botanists, and consequently they failed to note some very simple yet
essential requirements of the plant. About 1890 experiments were
renewed. This time by skilled and competent men who quickly learned
that the plant would thrive only under its native forest conditions,
ample shade, and a loose, mellow soil, rich in humus, or decayed
vegetable matter. As has since been shown by the success of the
growers. Ginseng is easily grown, and responds readily to proper care
and attention. Under right conditions the cultivated roots are much
larger and finer, and grow more quickly than the wild ones.
It may be stated in passing, that Chinese Ginseng is not quite the
same thing as that found in America, but is a variety called Panax
Ginseng, while ours is Panax Quinquefolia. The chemists say, however,
that so far as analysis shows, both have practically the same
properties. It was originally distributed over a wide area, being
found everywhere in the eastern part of the United States and Canada
where soil and locality were favorable.
Ginseng has an annual stalk and perennial root. The first year the
foliage does not closely resemble the mature plant, having only three
leaves. It is usually in its third year that it assumes the
characteristic leaves of maturity and becomes a seed-bearer. The
photos which accompany give a more accurate idea of the plant's
appearance than is possible from a written description. The plants
bloom very quickly after sprouting and the berries mature in August
and September in most localities. When ripe, the berries are a rich
deep crimson and contain usually two seeds each.
The seeds are peculiar in that it usually takes them about eighteen
months to germinate and if allowed to become dry in the meantime, the
vitality will be destroyed.
Western authorities have heretofore placed little value on Ginseng as
a curative agent, but a number of recent investigations seem to
reverse this opinion. The Chinese, however, have always placed the
highest value upon it and millions have used and esteemed it for
untold centuries. Its preparation and uses have never been fully
understood by western people.
Our Consuls in China have at various times furnished our government
with very full reports of its high value and universal use in the
"Flowery Kingdom." From these we learn that "Imperial Ginseng," the
highest grade grown in the royal parks and gardens, is jealously
watched and is worth from $40.00 to $200.00 per pound. Of course its
use is limited to the upper circle of China's four hundred. The next
quality comes from Korea and is valued at $15.00 to $35.00 per pound.
Its use is also limited to the lucky few. The third grade includes
American Ginseng and is the great staple kind. It is used by every
one of China's swarming millions who can possibly raise the price.
The fourth grade is Japanese Ginseng and is used by those who can do
Mr. Wildman, of Hong Kong, says: "The market for a good article is
practically unlimited. There are four hundred million Chinese and all
to some extent use Ginseng. If they can once become satisfied with
the results obtained from the tea made from American Ginseng, the
yearly demand will run up into the millions of dollars worth."
Another curious fact is that the Chinese highly prize certain
peculiar shapes among these roots especially those resembling the
human form. For such they gladly pay fabulous prices, sometimes six
hundred times its weight in silver. The rare shapes are not used as
medicine but kept as a charm, very much as some Americans keep a
rabbit's foot for luck.
Sir Edwin Arnold, that famous writer and student of Eastern peoples,
says of its medicinal values: "According to the Chinaman, Ginseng is
the best and most potent of cordials, of stimulants, of tonics, of
stomachics, cardiacs, febrifuges, and, above all, will best renovate
and reinvigorate failing forces. It fills the heart with hilarity
while its occasional use will, it is said, add a decade of years to
the ordinary human life. Can all these millions of Orientals, all
those many generations of men, who have boiled Ginseng in silver
kettles and have praised heaven for its many benefits, have been
totally deceived? Was the world ever quite mistaken when half of it
believed in something never puffed, nowhere advertised and not yet
fallen to the fate of a Trust, a Combine or a Corner?"
It has been asked why the Chinese do not grow their own Ginseng. In
reply it may be said that America supplies but a very small part
indeed of the Ginseng used in China. The bulk comes from Korea and
Manchuria, two provinces belonging to China, or at least which did
belong to her until the recent Eastern troubles.
Again, Ginseng requires practically a virgin soil, and as China
proper has been the home of teeming millions for thousands of years,
one readily sees that necessary conditions for the plant hardly exist
in that old and crowded country.
A few years ago Ginseng could be found in nearly every woods and
thicket in the country. Today conditions are quite different. Ginseng
has become a scarce article. The decrease in the annual crop of the
wild root will undoubtedly be very rapid from this on. The continued
search for the root in every nook and corner in the country, coupled
with the decrease in the forest and thicket area of the country, must
in a few years exterminate the wild root entirely.
To what extent the cultivated article in the meantime can supplant
the decrease in the production of the wild root, is yet to be
demonstrated. The most important points in domesticating the root, to
my opinion, is providing shade, a necessary condition for the growth
of Ginseng, and to find a fertilizer suitable for the root to produce
a rapid growth. If these two conditions can be complied with, proper
shade and proper fertilizing, the cultivation of the root is
simplified. Now the larger wild roots are found in clay soil and not
in rich loam. It seems reasonably certain that the suitable elements
for the growth of the root is found in clay soil.
The "seng" digger often finds many roots close to the growing stalk,
which had not sent up a shoot that year. For how many years the root
may lie dormant is not known, nor is it known whether this is caused
by lack of cultivation. I have noticed that the cultivated plant did
not fail to sprout for five consecutive years. Whether it will fail
the sixth year or the tenth is yet unknown. The seed of Ginseng does
not sprout or germinate until the second year, when a slender stalk
with two or three leaves puts in an appearance. Then as the stalk
increases in size from year to year, it finally becomes quite a
sizable shrub of one main stalk, from which branch three, four, or
even more prongs; the three and four prongs being more common. A
stalk of "seng" with eight well arranged prongs, four of which were
vertically placed over four others, was found in this section
(Southern Ohio) some years ago. This was quite an oddity in the
general arrangement of the plant.
Ginseng is a plant found growing wild in the deep shaded forests and
on the hillsides thruout the United States and Canada. Less than a
score of years ago Ginseng was looked upon as a plant that could not
be cultivated, but today we find it is successfully grown in many
states. It is surprising what rapid improvements have been made in
this valuable root under cultivation. The average cultivated root now
of three or four years of age, will outweigh the average wild root of
thirty or forty years.
When my brother and I embarked in the enterprise, writes one of the
pioneers in the business, of raising Ginseng, we thought it would
take twenty years to mature a crop instead of three or four as we are
doing today. At that time we knew of no other person growing it and
from then until the present time we have continually experimented,
turning failures to success. We have worked from darkness to light,
so to speak.
In the forests of Central New York, the plant is most abundant on
hillsides sloping north and east, and in limestone soils where
basswood or butternut predominate. Like all root crops, Ginseng
delights in a light, loose soil, with a porous subsoil.
If a cultivated plant from some of our oldest grown seed and a wild
one be set side by side without shading, the cultivated one will
stand three times as long as the wild one before succumbing to
excessive sunlight. If a germinated seed from a cultivated plant were
placed side by side under our best mode of cultivation, the plant of
the cultivated seed at the end of five years, would not only be
heavier in the root but would also produce more seed.
In choosing a location for a Ginseng garden, remember the most
favorable conditions for the plant or seed bed are a rich loamy soil,
as you will notice in the home of the wild plant. You will not find
it on low, wet ground or where the Water stands any length of time,
it won't grow with wet feet; it wants well drained soil. A
first-class location is on land that slopes to the east or north, and
on ground that is level and good. Other slopes are all right, but not
as good as the first mentioned. It does not do so well under trees,
as the roots and fibers from them draw the moisture from the plant
and retard its growth.
[Illustration: Garden Grown Ginseng Plant.]
The variety of soil is so much different in the United States that it
is a hard matter to give instructions that would be correct for all
places. The best is land of a sandy loam, as I have mentioned before.
Clay land can be used and will make good gardens by mixing leaf mold,
rotten wood and leaves and some lighter soil, pulverize and work it
thru thoroughly. Pick out all sticks and stones that would interfere
with the plants.
Ginseng is a most peculiar plant. It has held a place of high esteem
among the Chinese from time immemorial. It hides away from man with
seeming intelligence. It is shy of cultivation, the seed germinating
in eighteen months as a rule, from the time of ripening and planting.
If the seeds become dry they lose, to a certain extent, their
The young plant is very weak and of remarkably slow growth. It
thrives only in virgin soil, and is very choice in its selection of a
place to grow. Remove the soil to another place or cultivate it in
any way and it loses its charm for producing this most fastidious
It has a record upon which it keeps its age, or years of its growth,
for it passes a great many years in the ground, dormant. I have
counted the age upon the record stem of small roots and found their
age to be from 30 to 60 years. No plant with which I am acquainted
grows as slowly as Ginseng.
A great many superstitious notions are held by the people, generally,
in regard to Ginseng. I think it is these natural peculiarities of
the plant, together with the fancied resemblance of the root to man,
and, also probably its aromatic odor that gives it its charm and
value. Destroy it from the earth and the Materia Medica of
civilization would lose nothing.
I notice that the cultivated root is not so high in price by some two
dollars as the wild root. If the root is grown in natural environment
and by natural cultivation, i. e., just let it grow, no Chinaman can
tell it from the wild root.
We have at present, writes a grower, in our Ginseng patch about 3,500
plants and will this year get quite a lot of excellent seed. Our
Ginseng garden is on a flat or bench on a north hillside near the
top, that was never cleared. The soil is a sandy loam and in exposure
and quality naturally adapted to the growth of this plant. The
natural growth of timber is walnut, both black and white, oak, red
bud, dogwood, sugar, maple, lin, poplar and some other varieties.
We cultivate by letting the leaves from the trees drop down upon the
bed in the fall as a mulch and then in the early spring we burn the
leaves off the bed. Our plants seem to like this treatment very well.
They are of that good Ginseng color which all Ginseng diggers
recognize as indicative of good sized, healthy roots.
[Illustration: Northern Ginseng Plant in Bloom--June.]
I have had much experience in hunting the wild Ginseng roots, says
another, and have been a close observer of its habits, conditions,
etc. High shade is best with about one-half sun. The root is found
mostly where there is good ventilation and drainage. A sandy porous
loam produces best roots. Plants in dense shade fail to produce seed
in proportion to the density of the shade. In high one-half shade
they produce heavy crops of seed. Coarse leaves that hold water will
cause disease in rainy seasons. No leaves or mulch make stalks too
low and stunted.
Ginseng is very wise and knows its own age. This age the plant shows
in two ways. First, by the style of the foliage which changes each
year until it is four years old. Second, the age can be determined by
counting the scars on the neck of the bud-stem. Each year the stalk
which carries the leaves and berries, goes down, leaving a scar on
the neck or perennial root from which it grew. A new bud forms
opposite and a little above the old one each year. Counting these
stalk scars will give the age of the plant.
I have seen some very old roots and have been told that roots with
fifty scars have been dug. The leaf on a seedling is formed of three
small parts on a stem, growing directly out of a perennial root and
during the first year it remains that shape. The second year the stem
forks at the top and each fork bears two leaves, each being formed of
five parts. The third year the stem forks three ways and bears three
leaves, each formed of five parts, much like the Virginia creeper.
Now the plant begins to show signs of bearing seed and a small
button-shaped cluster of green berries can be seen growing in the
forks of the stalk at the base of the leaf stem. The fourth year the
perennial stalk grows as large around as an ordinary lead pencil and
from one foot to twenty inches high. It branches four ways, and has
four beautiful five-pointed leaves, with a large well-formed cluster
of berries in the center. After the middle of June a pale green
blossom forms on the top of each berry. The berries grow as large as
a cherry pit and contain two or three flat hard seeds. In September
they turn a beautiful red and are very attractive to birds and
squirrels. They may be gathered each day as they ripen and should be
planted directly in a bed, or put in a box of damp, clean sand and
safely stored. If put directly in the ground they will sprout the
first year, which advantage would be lost if stored dry.
A word to trappers about wild roots. When you find a plant gather the
seed, and unless you want to plant them in your garden, bury them in
the berry about an inch or inch and a half deep in some good, rich,
shady place, one berry in each spot. Thus you will have plants to dig
in later years, you and those who come after you. Look for it in the
autumn after it has had time to mature its berries. Do not take up
the little plants which have not yet become seed bearers.
The forest is the home of the Ginseng plant and the closer we follow
nature the better results we get. I am growing it now under
artificial shade; also in the forest with natural shade, says an Ohio
party. A good shade is made by setting posts in the ground, nail
cross-pieces on these, then cover with brush. You must keep out the
sun and let in the rain and this will do both. Another good shade is
made by nailing laths across, allowing them to be one-half inch
apart. This will allow the rain to pass thru and will keep the sun
out. Always when using lath for shade allow them to run east and
west, then the sun can't shine between them.
In selecting ground for location of a Ginseng garden, the north side
of a hill is best, altho where the ground is level it will grow well.
Don't select a low marshy piece of ground nor a piece too high, all
you want is ground with a good drainage and moisture. It is the
opinion of some people that in a few years the market will be glutted
by those growing it for sale. I will venture to say that I don't
think we can grow enough in fifty years to over-run the market. The
demand is so great and the supply so scarce it will be a long time
before the market will be affected by the cultivated root.
The market has been kept up entirely in the past by the wild root,
but it has been so carelessly gathered that it is almost entirely
exhausted, so in order to supply this demand we must cultivate this
crop. I prepare my beds five feet wide and as long as convenient. I
commence by covering ground with a layer of good, rich, loose dirt
from the woods or well-rotted manure. Then I spade it up, turning
under the rich dirt. Then I cover with another layer of the same kind
of dirt in which I plant my seed and roots.
After I have them planted I cover the beds over with a layer of
leaves or straw to hold the moisture, which I leave on all winter to
protect them from the cold. In the spring I remove a part of the
leaves (not all), they will come up thru the leaves as they do in
their wild forest.
All the attention Ginseng needs after planting is to keep the weeds
out of the beds. Never work the soil after planting or you will
disturb the roots. It is a wild plant and we must follow nature as
near as possible.
Ginseng can be profitably grown on small plots if it is cared for
properly. There are three things influencing its growth. They are
soil, shade and treatment. In its wild state the plant is found
growing in rich leaf mold of a shady wood. So in cultivation one must
conform to many of the same conditions in which the plant is found
In starting a bed of Ginseng the first thing to be considered is the
selection of soil. Tho your soil be very rich it is a good plan to
cover it with three or four inches of leaf mold and spade about ten
inches deep so that the two soils will be well mixed. Artificial
shade is preferable at all times because trees take nearly all the
moisture and strength out of the soil.
When the bed is well fitted, seed may be sown or plants may be set
out. The latter is the quicker way to obtain results. If seeds are
sown the young grower is apt to become discouraged before he sees any
signs of growth, as it requires eighteen months for their
germination. The cheapest way to get plants is to learn to recognize
them at sight, then go to the woods and try to find them. With a
little practice you will be able to tell them at some distance. Much
care should be taken in removing the plant from the soil. The fewer
fibers you break from the root, the more likely it will be to grow.
Care should also be taken not to break the bud on top of the root. It
is the stalk of the plant starting for the next year, and is very
noticeable after June 1st. If it be broken or harmed the root will
have no stalk the next season.
It is best to start a Ginseng garden on a well drained piece of land,
says a Dodge County, Wisconsin, grower. Run the beds the way the hill
slopes. Beds should only be four to five feet wide so that they can
be reached, for walking on the beds is objectionable. Make your walks
about from four to six inches below the beds, for an undrained bed
will produce "root rot." The ground should be very rich and "mulchy."
Use well rotted horse manure in preparing the beds, for fresh manure
will heat and hurt the plants. Use plenty of woods dirt, but very
little manure of any kind.
Set plants about six inches each way, and if you want to increase the
size of the root, pinch off the seed bulb. In the fall when the tops
have died down, cover the beds about two inches deep with dead leaves
from the woods. We make our shades out of one-inch strips three
inches wide and common lath. The north and west fence should be more
tight to keep cold winds out. Eastern and southern side tight, two
feet from the ground. From the two feet to top you may use ordinary
staves from salt barrels or so nailed one inch apart. Have your
Ginseng garden close to the house, for Ginseng thieves become
I was raised in the country on a farm and as near to nature as it is
possible to get, and have known a great deal of Ginseng from my youth
up. Twenty-five years ago it was 75 cents a pound, and now it is
worth ten times as much. Every one with any experience in such
matters knows that if radishes or turnips are planted in rich, old
soil that has been highly fertilized they will grow large and will be
strong, hot, pithy and unpalatable. If planted in rich, new soil,
they will be firm, crisp, juicy and sweet. This fact holds good with
If planted in old ground that is highly fertilized, the roots will
grow large, but the flavor is altogether different from that of the
wild root, and no doubt specimens of large sizes are spongy and
unpalatable to the Celestials compared to that of the wild root.
If planted in rich, new ground and no strong fertilizer used,
depending entirely upon the rich woods soil for enriching the beds,
the flavor is bound to be exactly as that of the wild root. When the
growers wake up to this fact, and dig their roots before they become
too large, prices will be very satisfactory and the business will be
on a sound basis.
* * *
We will begin in a systematic way, with the location, planting and
preparing of the ground for the Ginseng garden, writes a successful
grower--C. H. Peterson--of Blue Earth County, Minn.
In choosing a location for a Ginseng garden, select one having a
well-drained soil. Ginseng thrives best in wood loam soil that is
cool and mellow, although any good vegetable garden soil will do very
well. A southern slope should be avoided, as the ground gets too warm
in summer and it also requires more shade than level or northern
slope does. It is also apt to sprout too early in the spring, and
there is some danger of its getting frosted, as the flower stem
freezes very easily and no seed is the result.
Then again if you locate your garden on too low ground the roots are
apt to rot and the freezing and thawing of wet ground is hard on
Ginseng. Laying out a garden nothing is more important than a good
system both for looks, convenience and the growth of your roots later
on. Do your work well as there is good money in raising Ginseng, and
for your time you will be well repaid. Don't make one bed here and
another there and a path where you happen to step, but follow some
plan for them. I have found by experience that the wider the beds
are, the better, providing that their width does not exceed the
distance that you can reach from each path to center of bed to weed.
For general purposes for beds 6 1/2 ft. is used for paths 1 1/2 ft. A
bed 6 1/2 ft. wide gives you 3 1/4 ft. to reach from each path to
center of bed without getting on the beds, which would not be
advisable. An 18 in. path is none too wide after a few years' growth,
as the plants nearly cover this with foliage. This size beds and
paths are just the right width for the system of lath shading I am
using, making the combined distance across bed and path 8 ft., or 16
ft. for two beds and two paths, just right to use a 1x4 rough 16 ft.
fencing board to run across top of posts described later on.
[Illustration: Plan for Ginseng Garden 24x40 Feet--Ground Plan one
line, overhead dotted.]
Now we will lay out the garden by setting a row of posts 8 ft. apart
the length you desire to make your garden. Then set another row 8 ft.
from first row running parallel with first row, and so on until
desired width of your garden has been reached. Be sure to have post
line up both ways and start even at ends. Be sure to measure
correctly. After all posts are set run a 1x4 in. rough fence board
across garden so top edge is even at top of post and nail to post.
The post should be about 8 ft. long so when set would be a trifle
over 6 ft. above ground. This enables a person to walk under shading
when completed. It is also cooler for your plants. In setting the
posts do not set them too firm, so they can be moved at top enough to
make them line up both ways. After the 1x4 in. fence board is put on
we will nail on double pieces.
Take a 1x6 rough fence board 16 ft. long and rip it so as to make two
strips, one 3 1/2 and the other 2 1/2 inches wide, lay the 3 1/2 in.
flat and set the 2 1/2 in. strip on edge in middle of other strip and
nail together. This had better be done on the ground so it can be
turned over to nail. Then start at one side and run this double piece
lengthwise of your garden or crosswise of the 1x4 in. fence board
nailed along top of post and nail down into same. It may be necessary
to nail a small piece of board on side of the 1x4 in. board where the
joints come. Then lay another piece similar to this parallel with
first one, leaving about 49 1/2 in. between the two. This space is
for the lath panel to rest on the bottom piece of the double piece.
Do not put double pieces so close that you will have to crowd the
lath panels to get them in, but leave a little room at end of panel.
You will gain about 1 1/2 in. for every double piece used in running
across the garden. This has to be made up by extending over one side
or the other a piece of 1x4 board nailed to end of 1x4 board nailed
at top posts. Let this come over the side you need the shade most.
Begin from the side you need the shade least and let it extend over
the other side.
It is advisable to run paths on outside of garden and extend the
shading out over them. On sides lath can be used unless otherwise
shaded by trees or vines. It will not be necessary to shade the north
side if shading extends out over end of beds several feet. Give your
plants all the air you can. In this system of shading I am using I
have figured a whole lot to get the most convenient shading as well
as a strong, substantial one without the use of needless lumber,
which means money in most places. It has given good satisfaction for
lath shade so far. Being easily built and handy to put on in spring
and take off in fall.
Now don't think I am using all lath shade, as I am not. In one part
of garden I am using lath and in another part I am using some good
elm trees. I think, however, that the roots make more rapid growth
under the lath shade, but the trees are the cheaper as they do not
rot and have to be replaced. They also put on their own shade. The
leaves when the proper time comes also removes it when the time comes
in the fall and also mulches the beds at the same time.
We will now plan out the beds and paths. Use 1x4 in. rough 16 ft.
fence boards on outside row of posts next to ground, nail these to
posts, continue and do likewise on next row of posts, and so on until
all posts have boards nailed on same side of them as first one, the
post being just on inside edge of your beds. Then measure 6 1/2 ft.
toward next board, drive a row of stakes and nail a board of same
width to same the length of your garden that will make 18 in. between
last row of boards and boards on next row nailed to post for the
These boards answer several purposes, viz., keep people from walking
on beds, elevates beds above paths, holds your mulching of leaves and
adds to the appearance of your garden. After beds are made by placing
the boards spade the ground about a foot deep all over the bed so as
to work it up in good shape. After this is done fork it over with a
six-tine fork. If bed is made in summer for fall or spring planting
it is well to work it over several times during the summer, as the
ground cannot be too mellow. This will also help kill the weeds. Then
just before planting rake it down level.
In case beds are made in woods cut, or better, grub out all trees not
needed for shade, and if tree roots are not too large cut out all
next to the surface running inside of boards in beds, and work the
same as other beds. Lay out your beds same as for lath shade with
paths between them. Don't try to plant Ginseng in the woods before
making it into beds, as you will find it unsatisfactory.
We will now make the lath panel before mentioned.
[Illustration: A Lath Panel.]
Place three laths so that when the laths are laid crosswise one of
the laths will be in the middle and the other two, one at each end
two inches from end. Can be placed at the end, but will rot sooner.
Then begin at end of the three laths and nail lath on, placing them
1/2 in. apart until other end is reached, and if lath is green put
closer together to allow for shrinkage. If you have many panels to
make, make a table out of boards and lay strips of iron fastened to
table where the three lath comes, so as to clinch nails when they
strike the iron strips, which will save a lot of work. Gauges can
also be placed on side of table to lay lath so they will be even at
ends of panels when finished. Then lay panels in your double pieces
on your garden, and if garden is not located in too windy a locality
they will not blow out without nailing, and a wire drawn tight from
end to end of garden on top of panels will prevent this, and is all
that is necessary to hold them in place.
In Central New York, under favorable conditions, Ginseng plants
should be coming up the last of April and early May, and should be in
the ground by or before April 1st, to give best results. Healthy
roots, taken up last of March or early April will be found covered
with numerous fine hair-like rootlets. These are the feeders and have
all grown from the roots during the spring. They should be well
established in the soil before plants appear. Fifteen minutes
exposure to the sun or wind will seriously injure and possibly
destroy these fine feeders, forcing the roots to throw out a second
crop of feeders.
Considering these conditions and frequent late seasons, our advice to
beginners is, wait until fall for transplanting roots. But we are not
considering southern conditions. Southern growers must be governed by
their own experience and climatic conditions. It may be a matter of
convenience sometimes for a northern grower to take up one or two
year seedlings and transplant to permanent beds in spring. If
conditions are favorable so the work can be done in March or early
April, it may be allowable. Have ground ready before roots are taken
up. Only take up a few at a time, protect from sun and wind,
Spring sowing of old seed. By this we mean seed that should have been
sowed the fall before when one year old, but has been kept over for
[Illustration: One, Two and Three Year Old Ginseng Roots.]
There is other work that can be done quite early in the Ginseng
gardens. All weeds that have lived thru the winter should be pulled
as soon as frost is out of ground. They can be pulled easier then
than any other time and more certain of getting the weed root out.
Mulching should be looked to. When coarse material like straw or
leaves has been used, it should be loosened up so air can get to the
soil and the plants can come up thru the mulch. If very heavy,
perhaps a portion of the mulch may need to be removed, but don't!
don't! take mulch all off from beds of set roots. Seed beds sown last
fall will need to be removed about time plants are starting up. But
seed beds should have been mulched with coarse leaf loam, or fine
vegetable mulch, and well rotted horse manure (half and half),
thoroughly mixed together, this mulch should have been put on as soon
as seeds were sown and covered with mulch one inch deep. If this was
not done last fall it should be put on this spring as soon as snow is
[Illustration: Ginseng plants "coming up."]
There is another point that needs careful attention when plants are
coming up. On heavy soil plants are liable to be earth bound; this is
quite likely to occur on old beds that have not been mulched and
especially in dry seasons. As the Ginseng stalk comes out of the
ground doubled (like an inverted U) the plant end is liable to be
held fast by the hard soil, causing injury and often loss of plants.
A little experience and careful observation will enable one to detect
earth bound plants. The remedy is to loosen soil around the plant. A
broken fork tine about eight inches long (straightened) and drive
small end in a piece of broom handle about four inches long for a
handle, flatten large end of tine like a screwdriver; this makes a
handy tool for this work. Force it into soil near plant, give a
little prying movement, at same time gently pull on plant end of
stalk until you feel it loosen, do not try to pull it out, it will
take care of itself when loosened. There is not likely to be any
trouble, if leaves appear at the surface of soil. This little spud
will be very useful to assist in pulling weed roots, such as
dandelion, dock, etc.
Where movable or open shades are used, they need not be put on or
closed till plants are well up; about the time leaves are out on
trees is the general rule. But one must be governed to some extent by
weather and local conditions. If warm and dry, with much sun, get
them on early. If wet and cool, keep them off as long as practicable,
but be ready to get them on as soon as needed.
I would advise a would-be grower of Ginseng to visit, if possible,
some gardens of other growers and learn all they can by inquiry and
In selecting a place for your garden, be sure it has good drainage,
as this one feature may save you a good deal of trouble and loss from
"damping off," "wilt," and other fungus diseases which originate from
too damp soil.
A light, rich soil is best. My opinion is to get soil from the
forest, heap up somewhere for a while thru the summer, then sift thru
sand sieve or something similar, and put about two inches on top of
beds you have previously prepared by spading and raking. If the soil
is a little heavy some old sawdust may be mixed with it to lighten
it. The woods dirt is O. K. without using any commercial fertilizers.
The use of strong fertilizers and improper drying is responsible for
the poor demand for cultivated root. The Chinese must have the
"quality" he desires and if flavor of root is poor, will not buy.
* * *
I wonder how many readers know that Ginseng can be grown in the
house? writes a New York dealer.
Take a box about 5 inches deep and any size you wish. Fill it with
woods dirt or any light, rich soil. Plant roots in fall and set in
cellar thru the winter. They will begin to come up about April 1st,
and should then be brought out of cellar. I have tried this two
seasons. Last year I kept them by a window on the north side so as to
be out of the sunshine. Window was raised about one inch to give
ventilation. Two plants of medium size gave me about 100 seeds.
This season I have several boxes, and plants are looking well and
most of them have seed heads with berries from one-third to
three-fourths grown. They have been greatly admired, and I believe I
was the first in this section to try growing Ginseng as a house
* * *
As to the location for a Ginseng garden, I have for the past two
years been an enthusiast for cultivation in the natural forest,
writes L. C. Ingram, M. D., of Minnesota. It is true that the largest
and finest roots I have seen were grown in gardens under lattice, and
maintaining such a garden must be taken into account when balancing
your accounts for the purpose of determining the net profits, for it
is really the profits we are looking for.
The soil I have found to be the best, is a rich black, having a good
drain, that is somewhat rolling. As to the direction of this slope I
am not particular so long as there is a rich soil, plenty of shade
and mulch covering the beds.
The selection of seed and roots for planting is the most important
item confronting the beginner. Considerable has been said in the past
concerning the distribution among growers of Japanese seed by
unscrupulous seed venders. It is a fact that Japanese Ginseng seed
have been started in a number of gardens, and unless successfully
stamped out before any quantity finds its way into the Chinese
market, the Ginseng industry in America, stands in peril of being
completely destroyed. Should they find our root mixed, their
confidence would be lost and our market lost. Every one growing
Ginseng must be interested in this vital point, and if they are
suspicious of any of their roots being Japanese, have them passed
upon by an expert, and if Japanese, every one dug.
[Illustration: Bed of 10,000 Young Ginseng Plants in Forest.]
It is a fact that neighboring gardens are in danger of being mixed,
as the bees are able to do this in carrying the mixing pollen. The
safest way to make a start is by procuring seed and roots from the
woods wild in your own locality. If this cannot be done then the seed
and roots for a start should be procured from a reliable party near
you who can positively guarantee the seed and roots to be genuine
American Ginseng. We should not be too impatient and hasty to extend
the garden or launch out in a great way. Learn first, then increase
as the growth of new seed will permit.
The next essential thing is the proper preparation of the soil for
the planting of the seeds and roots. The soil must be dug deep and
worked perfectly loose same as any bed in a vegetable garden. The
beds are made four or five feet wide and raised four to six inches
above the paths, which are left one and a half to two feet wide. I
have had seed sown on the ground and covered with dirt growing beside
seed planted in well made beds and the contrast in size and the
thriftiness of roots are so great when seen, never to be forgotten.
The seedlings growing in the hard ground were the size of oat
kernels, those in the beds beside them three to nine inches long and
weighing from four to ten times as much per root.
In planting the seed all that is necessary is to scatter the
stratified seed on top of the prepared bed so they will be one or two
inches apart, then cover with loose dirt from the next bed then level
with back of garden rake. They should be one-half to one inch
covered. Sawdust or leaves should next be put on one to two inches
for a top dressing to preserve moisture, regulate heat, and prevent
the rains from packing the soil.
The best time to do all planting is in the spring. This gives the
most thrifty plants with the least number missing. When the plants
are two years old they must be transplanted into permanent beds.
These are prepared in the same manner as they were for the seed. A
board six inches wide is thrown across the bed, you step on this and
with a spade throw out a ditch along the edge of the board. In this
the roots are set on a slant of 45 degrees and so the bud will be
from one to two inches beneath the surface. The furrow is then filled
and the board moved its width. By putting the roots six inches apart
in the row and using a six-inch board your plants will be six inches
each way, which with most growers have given best results. When the
roots have grown three years in the transplanted beds they should be
ready to dig and dry for market. They should average two ounces each
at this time if the soil was rich in plant food and properly prepared
and cared for.
The plants require considerable care and attention thru each summer.
Moles must be caught, blight and other diseases treated and the weeds
pulled, especially from among the younger plants. As soon as the
plants are up in the spring the seed buds should be clipped from all
the plants except those finest and healthiest plants you may save for
your seed to maintain your garden. The clipping of the seed buds is
very essential, because we want the very largest and best flavored
root in the shortest time for the market. Then if we grow bushels of
seed to the expense of the root, it is only a short time when many
thousands of pounds of root must compete with our own for the market
and lower the price.
SHADING AND BLIGHT.
In several years experience growing Ginseng, says a well known
grower, I have had no trouble from blight when I shade and mulch
enough to keep the soil properly cool, or below 65 degrees, as you
will find the temperature in the forests, where the wild plants grow
best, even during summer days.
Some years ago I allowed the soil to get too warm, reaching 70
degrees or more. The blight attacked many plants then. This proved to
me that growing the plants under the proper temperature has much to
do with blight.
When fungus diseases get upon wild plants, that is plants growing in
the forest, in most cases it can be traced to openings, forest fires
and the woodman's ax. This allows too much sun to strike the plants
and ground in which they are growing. If those engaged, or about to
engage, in Ginseng growing will study closely the conditions under
which the wild plants flourish best, they can learn much that they
will only find out after years of experimenting.
Mr. L. E. Turner in a recent issue of "Special Crops" says: We cannot
depend on shade alone to keep the temperature of the soil below 65
degrees--the shade would have to be almost total. In order to allow
sufficient light and yet keep the temperature down, we must cover the
ground with a little mulch. The more thoroughly the light is diffused
the better for the plants. Now, when we combine sufficient light with
say one-half inch of clean mulch, we are supplying to the plants
their natural environment, made more perfect in that it is everywhere
The mulch is as essential to the healthy growth of the Ginseng plant
as clothing is to the comfort and welfare of man; it can thrive
without it no more than corn will grow well with it. These are plants
of opposite nature. Use the mulch and reduce the shade to the proper
density. The mulch is of the first importance, for the plants will do
much better with the mulch and little shade than without mulch and
with plenty of shade.
Ginseng is truly and wholly a savage. We can no more tame it than we
can the partridge. We can lay out a preserve and stock it with
Ginseng as we would with partridges, but who would stock a city park
with partridges and expect them to remain there? We cannot make a
proper Ginseng preserve under conditions halfway between a potato
patch and a wild forest, but this is exactly the trouble with a large
share of Ginseng gardens. They are just a little too much like the
potato patch to be exactly suited to the nature of Ginseng. The plant
cannot thrive and remain perfectly healthy under these conditions; we
may apply emulsions and physic, but we will find it to be just like a
person with an undermined constitution, it will linger along for a
time subject to every disease that is in the air and at last some new
and more subtle malady will, in spite of our efforts, close its
Kind readers, I am in a position to know thoroughly whereof I write,
for I have been intimate for many years with the wild plants and with
every shade of condition under which they manage to exist. I have
found them in the valley and at the hilltop, in the tall timber and
the brambled "slashing," but in each place were the necessary
conditions of shade and mulch. The experienced Ginseng hunter comes
to know by a kind of instinct just where he will find the plant and
he does not waste time searching in unprofitable places. It is
because he understands its environment. It is the environment he
seeks--the Ginseng is then already found. The happy medium of
condition under which it thrives best in the wild state form the
process of healthy culture.
[Illustration: One Year's Growth of Ginseng Under Lattice Shade.]
Mr. Wm E. Mowrer, of Missouri, is evidently not in favor of the cloth
shading. I think if he had thoroughly water-proofed the cloth it
would have withstood the action of the weather much better. It would
have admitted considerably less light and if he had given enough
mulch to keep the soil properly cool and allowed space enough for
ventilation, he would not have found the method so disastrous. We
will not liken his trial to the potato patch, but to the field where
tobacco is started under canvas. A tent is a cool place if it is open
at the sides and has openings in the top and the larger the tent the
cooler it will be. Ginseng does splendidly under a tent if the tent
is built expressly with regard to the requirements of Ginseng.
In point of cheapness a vine shading is yet ahead of the cloth
system. The wild cucumber vine is best for this purpose, for it is
exactly suited by nature to the conditions in a Ginseng garden. It is
a native of moist, shady places, starts early, climbs high and
rapidly. The seeds may be planted five or six in a "hill" in the
middle of the beds, if preferred, at intervals of six or seven feet,
and the vines may be trained up a small pole to the arbor frame.
Wires, strings or boughs may be laid over the arbor frame for the
vines to spread over. If the shade becomes too dense some of the
vines may be clipped off and will soon wither away. Another advantage
of the wild cucumber is that it is very succulent, taking an
abundance of moisture and to a great extent guards against excessive
dampness in the garden. The vines take almost no strength from the
soil. The exceeding cheapness of this method is the great point in
its favor. It is better to plant a few too many seeds than not
enough, for it is easy to reduce the shade if too dense, but
difficult to increase it in the summer if too light.
* * *
This disease threatens seriously to handicap us in the raising of
Ginseng, says a writer in "Special Crops." It does down, but is
giving us trouble all over the country. No section seems to be immune
from it, tho all seem to be spraying more or less. I know of several
good growers whose gardens have gone down during the last season and
this, and they state that they began early and sprayed late, but to
no decided benefit. What are we to do? Some claim to have perfect
success with spraying as their supposed prevention.
Three years ago I began to reason on this subject and in my rambles
in the woods, I have watched carefully for this disease, as well as
others on the wild plant, and while I have now and then noted a wild
plant that was not entirely healthy, I have never seen any evidence
of blight or other real serious disease. The wild plant usually
appears ideally healthy, and while they are smaller than we grow in
our gardens, they are generally strikingly healthful in color and
general appearance. Why is this so? And why do we have such a reverse
of things among our gardens?
I will offer my ideas on the subject and give my theories of the
causes of the various diseases and believe that they are correct and
time will prove it. At least I hope these efforts of mine will be the
means of helping some who are having so much trouble in the
cultivation of Ginseng. The old saw that the "proof of the pudding is
in chewing the bag," may be amply verified by a visit to my gardens
to show how well my theories have worked so far. I will show you
Ginseng growing in its highest state of perfection and not a
scintilla of blight or any species of alternaria in either of them,
while around me I scarcely know of another healthy garden.
To begin with, moisture is our greatest enemy; heat next; the two
combined at the same time forming the chief cause for most diseases
of the plant.
If the soil in our gardens could be kept only slightly moist, as it
is in the woods, and properly shaded, ventilated and mulched, I am
sure such a thing as blight and kindred diseases would never be
known. The reason for this lies in the fact that soil temperature is
kept low and dry. The roots, as is well known, go away down in the
soil, because the temperature lower down is cooler than at the
Here is where mulch plays so important a part because it protects the
roots from so much heat that finds its way between the plants to the
top of the beds. The mulch acts as a blanket in keeping the heat out
and protecting the roots thereby. If any one doubts this, just try to
raise the plants without mulch, and note how some disease will make
its appearance. The plant will stand considerable sun, however, with
heavy enough mulch. And the more sun it can take without harm, the
better the root growth will be. Too much shade will show in a
spindling top and slender leaves, and invariable smallness of root
growth, for, let it be borne in mind always, that the plant must
derive more or less food from the top, and it is here that the fungi
in numerous forms proceed to attack.
The plant will not grow in any other atmosphere but one surcharged
with all kinds of fungi. This is the natural environment of the plant
and the only reason why the plants do not all become diseased lies in
the plain fact that its vitality is of such a high character that it
can resist the disease, hence the main thing in fighting disease is
to obtain for the plant the best possible hygienic surroundings and
feed it with the best possible food and thus nourish it to the
I am a firm believer in spraying of the proper kind, but spraying
will not keep a plant free from disease with other important
conditions lacking. Spraying, if heavily applied, is known as a
positive injury to the plant, despite the fact that many claim it is
not, and the pity is we should have to resort to it in self-defense.
The pores of the leaflets are clogged up to a greater or less extent
with the deposited solution and the plant is dependent to this extent
of its power to breathe.
Coat a few plants very heavily with spray early in the season and
keep it on and note how the plants struggle thru the middle of a hot
day to get their breath. Note that they have a sluggish appearance
and are inclined to wilt. These plants are weakened to a great extent
and if an excess of moisture and heat can get to them, they will
perhaps die down. Another thing: Take a plant that is having a hard
time to get along and disturb the root to some extent and in a day or
two notice spots come upon it and the leaves begin to show a wilting.
Vitality disturbed again.
[Illustration: A Healthy Looking Ginseng Garden.]
The finest plants I have ever found in the woods were growing about
old logs and stumps, where the soil was heavily enriched with
decaying wood. A good cool spot, generally, and more or less mulch,
and if not too much shade present. Where the shade was too dense the
roots were always small. I have in some instances found some very
fine roots growing in the midst of an old stump with no other soil
save the partially rotted stump dirt, showing thus that Ginseng likes
decaying wood matter. Upon learning this, I obtained several loads of
old rotten sawdust, preferably white oak or hickory and my bed in my
gardens is covered at least two inches with it under the leaf mulch.
This acts as a mulch and natural food at one and the same time. The
leaves decay next to the soil and thus we supply leaf mold.
This leaf mold is a natural requirement of the plant and feeds it
also constantly. A few more leaves added each fall keep up the
process and in this way we are keeping the plant wild, which we must
do to succeed with it, for Ginseng can not be greatly changed from
its nature without suffering the consequences. This is what is the
matter now with so many of us. Let's go back to nature and stay
there, and disease will not give us so much trouble again.
One more chief item I forgot to mention was the crowding of the
plants together. The smaller plants get down under the larger and
more vigorous and have a hard struggle for existence. The roots do
not make much progress under these conditions, and these plants might
as well not be left in the beds. And also note that under those
conditions the beds are badly ventilated and if any plants are found
to be sickly they will be these kind. I shall plant all my roots
henceforth at least ten inches apart each way and give them more room
for ventilation and nourishment. They get more chance to grow and
will undoubtedly make firm root development and pay largely better in
the end. Corn cannot be successfully cultivated in rows much narrower
than four feet apart and about two stalks to the hill. All farmers
know if the hills are closer and more stalks to the hill the yield
will be much less.
At this point I would digress to call attention to the smallness of
root development in the woods, either wild or cultivated, because the
trees and tree roots sap so much substance from the soil and other
weeds and plants help to do the same thing. The shade is not of the
right sort, too dense or too sparse in places, and the plants do not
make quick growth enough to justify the growing under such
conditions, and while supposed to be better for health of plants,
does not always prove to be the case. I have seen some gardens under
forest shade that blighted as badly as any gardens.
So many speak of removing the leaves and mulch in the spring from the
beds. Now, this is absolutely wrong, because the mulch and leaves
keep the ground from becoming packed by rains, preserves an even
moisture thru the dry part of the season and equalizes the
temperature. Temperature is as important as shade and the plants will
do better with plenty of mulch and leaves on the beds and
considerable sun than with no mulch, dry hard beds and the ideal
shade. Roots make but little growth in dry, hard ground. Pull your
weeds out by hand and protect your garden from the seng digger thru
the summer and that will be your cultivation until September or
October when you must transplant your young roots into permanent
beds, dig and dry the mature roots.
DISEASES OF GINSENG.
The following is from an article on "The Alternaria Blight of
Ginseng" by H. H. Whetzel, of Cornell University, showing that the
author is familiar with the subject:
Susceptibility of Ginseng to Disease.
The pioneer growers of Ginseng thought they had struck a "bonanza."
Here was a plant that seemed easily grown, required little attention
after it was once planted, was apparently free from all diseases to
which cultivated plants are heir and was, besides, extremely
valuable. Their first few crops bore out this supposition. No wonder
that a "Ginseng craze" broke out and that men sat up nights to figure
out on paper the vast fortunes that were bound to accrue to those who
planted a few hundred seeds at three cents each and sold the roots in
five years at $12.00 a pound.
Like many other grow-wealthy-while-you-wait schemes, nature herself
imposed a veto. Diseases began to appear. The prospective fortune
shrunk, frequently dried up and blew away or rotted and disappeared
in the earth. Several factors contributed to this result:
1. The removal of a wild plant from its natural habitat to an
entirely artificial one.
2. The encouragement by the application of manures and cultivation of
a rapidity of growth to which the plant was by inheritance an entire
stranger, thus weakening its constitution and depriving it of its
natural ability to withstand disease. Cultivated roots in three years
from the seed attain greater size than they often would in twenty
years in the woods.
3. The failure in many cases to provide conditions in any degree
approximating the natural habitat, as, for example, the failure to
supply proper drainage that is in nature provided by the forest trees
whose roots constantly remove the excess of rainfall.
[Illustration: Diseased Ginseng Plants.]
4. The crowding of a large number of plants into a small area. This,
in itself, is more responsible for disease epidemics than perhaps any
Of all the twelve or fifteen, now more or less known, diseases of
this plant one in particular stands out as "the disease" of Ginseng.
Altho one of the latest to make its appearance, it has in three or
four years spread to nearly every garden in this state and its
ravages have been most severe. This disease is the well known
The Most Common and Destructive Disease of Ginseng.
The disease manifests itself in such a variety of ways, depending
upon the parts of the plant attacked, that it is difficult to give a
description by which it may always be identified. It is usually the
spotting of the foliage that first attracts the grower's attention.
If examined early in the morning the diseased spots are of a darker
green color and watery as if scalded. They dry rapidly, becoming
papery and of a light brown color, definite in outline and very
brittle. With the return of moist conditions at night the disease
spreads from the margin of the spot into the healthy tissue. The
disease progresses rapidly so that in a very few days the entire leaf
succumbs, wilts and hangs limp from the stalk. If the weather is wet,
the progress of the disease is often astonishing, an entire garden
going down in a day or two. Under such conditions the leaves may show
few or no spots becoming thruout of a dark watery green and drooping
as if dashed with scalding water. All parts of the top may be
affected. The disease never reaches the roots, affecting them only
Cause of the Disease.
The disease is the result of the growth of a parasitic fungus in the
tissues of the Ginseng. This fungus is an Alternaria (species not yet
determined) as is at once evident from an examination of its spores.
These are in size and form much like those of the early Blight
Alternaria of Potato. These spores falling upon any part of the plant
above the ground will, if moisture be present, germinate very
quickly, sending out germ tubes which pierce the epidermis of the
host. These mycelium threads ramify thru the tissues of the leaf or
stem as the case may be, causing death of the cells. From the
mycelium that lies near or on the surface arise clusters or short
brown stalks or conidiophores on the apex of which the spores are
borne in short chains. The spores mature quickly and are scattered to
healthy plants, resulting in new infections. Only one form of spores,
the conidial, is at present known.
That the Alternaria is a true parasite and the cause of the disease
there can be no doubt. The fungus is constantly associated with the
disease. Inoculation experiments carried on in the botanical
laboratory this summer show conclusively that the germ tube of the
spore can penetrate the epidermis of healthy Ginseng leaves and stems
and by its growth in such healthy tissue cause the characteristic
spots of the disease. This is of special interest as it adds another
to the list of parasitic species of genus long supposed to contain
Upon the general appearance of so destructive a disease, one of the
first questions of the growers was "where did it come from?"
Believing that it was a natural enemy of the wild plant, now grown
over powerful under conditions highly unnatural to Ginseng, I
undertook to find proof of my theory. I visited a wooded hillside
where wild Ginseng was still known to exist. After half a day's
diligent search I obtained seventeen plants of different ages, one of
which showed spots of the Blight. Examination with the microscope
showed mycelium and spores of the Alternaria. Unfortunately I did not
get pure cultures of the fungus from this plant and so could not by
cross inoculations demonstrate absolutely the identity of the
Alternaria on the wild plant with that of the cultivated. So far,
however, as character of the spots on the leaves, size and form of
the spores are concerned, they are the same. This, I believe, answers
the question of the source of the disease. Introduced into gardens on
wild plants brought from the woods, it has spread rapidly under
conditions most favorable to its development; namely, those pointed
out in the earlier part of this paper.
The wind, I believe, is chiefly responsible for the dissemination of
the spores which are very small and light. Not only does the wind
carry the spores from plant to plant thruout the garden, but no doubt
frequently carries them for longer distances to gardens near by. The
spores are produced most abundantly under conditions favorable to
such dissemination. During moist, cloudy weather the energies of the
fungus are devoted to vegetative growth, the spreading of the
mycelium in the host tissues. With the advent of bright sunny days
and dry weather mycelium growth is checked and spore formation goes
on rapidly. These spores are distributed when dry and retain their
vitality for a long period. Spores from dried specimens in the
laboratory have been found to germinate after several months when
placed in water. The disease might also be very readily carried by
spores clinging to the roots or seeds, or possibly even by the
mycelium in the seeds themselves. The fungus very probably winters in
the old leaves and stems or in the mulch, living as a saprophyte and
producing early in the spring a crop of spores from which the first
Summer History of the Disease.
Altho it is on the foliage that the disease first attracts the
attention of the grower, it is not here that it really makes its
first appearance in the spring. The stem is the first part of the
plant to come thru the soil and it is the stem that is first
affected. The disease begins to show on the stems very shortly after
they are thru the soil, evident first as a rusty, yellow spot usually
a short distance above the surface of the soil or mulch. The spot
rapidly increases in size, becomes brown and finally nearly black
from the multitude of spores produced on its surface. The tissue of
the stem at the point of attack is killed and shrinks, making a
canker or rotten strip up the side of the stem. Such stems show well
developed leaves and blossom heads giving no evidence of the disease
beneath. Occasionally, however, the fungus weakens the stem so that
it breaks over. Growers have occasionally observed this "stem rot"
but have never connected it with the disease on the leaves later in
[Illustration: Broken--"Stem Rot."]
It is from the spores produced on these cankers on the stem that the
leaves become infected. The disease begins to appear on the leaves
some time in July and by the middle of August there is usually little
foliage alive. Infection frequently occurs at the point where the
five leaflets are attached to the common petiole. The short leaf
stems are killed causing the otherwise healthy leaflets to droop and
wilt. This manifestation of the disease has not generally been
attributed to the Alternaria. The seedlings are frequently affected
in the same way causing what is sometimes known as the "top blight of
From the diseased leaves and stems the spores of the fungus find
their way to the seed heads which at this time are rapidly filling
out by the growth of the berries. The compact seed heads readily
retain moisture, furnishing most favorable conditions for the
germination of any spores that find their way into the center of the
head. That this is the usual course of seed head infection is shown
by the fact that it is the base of the berry on which the spots
start. These spots, of a rusty yellow color, gradually spread all
over the seed which finally becomes shriveled and of a dark brown or
black color. Spores in abundance are formed on the diseased berries.
Affected berries "shell" from the head at the slightest touch. This
manifestation of the disease has long been known as "seed blast." If
the berries have begun to color the injury from the disease will
probably be very slight. The "blasting" of the green berries,
however, will undoubtedly reduce or destroy the vitality of the seed.
There is a strong probability that the fungus may be carried over in
or on the seed.
[Illustration: End Root Rot of Seedlings.]
The roots are only indirectly affected by this disease. The fungus
never penetrates to them. Roots from diseased tops will grow
perfectly normal and healthy plants the following season. It is in
the leaves of the plant that practically all of the substance of the
root is made. The bulk of this substance is starch. The destruction
of the foliage, the manufacturing part of the plant, long before it
would normally die means of course some reduction in the growth and
starch content of the root. However, it seems probable that the
greater portion of root growth is made before the blight attacks the
foliage. This seems borne out by the fact that even blighted
seedlings usually show nearly as good growth and bud development as
those not blighted. In the case of older plants this is probably much
more true as the latter part of the season is devoted largely to
growing and maturing the berries. The Alternaria blight is dreaded
chiefly because of its destructive effects on the seed crop.
The first experimental work on the control of this disease so far as
I know, was carried out by Dr. I. C. Curtis of Fulton, N. Y. Having
suffered the total loss of foliage and seed crop during the season of
1904, Dr. Curtis determined to test the efficacy of the Bordeaux
mixture the following season as a preventive of the blight. The
success of his work, together with this method of making and applying
the mixture is given by him in Special Crops for January, 1906.
Extensive experiments in spraying were carried out during the past
season by the Ginseng Company at Rose Hill, N. Y., under the
direction of the writer. During 1905 their entire seed crop was
completely destroyed by the blight. Losses from the same disease the
previous season had been very heavy. During 1905 they had succeeded
in saving a very large proportion of their seedlings by spraying them
with the Bordeaux mixture. Encouraged by this they began spraying
early in the spring of 1906, just when the plant began to come thru
the ground. This was repeated nearly every week during the season,
the entire ten acres being sprayed each time. On account of poor
equipment the earlier sprayings were not as thoroughly done as they
should have been, and some disease appeared on the stalks here and
there thruout the gardens. A new pump and nozzles were soon installed
and all parts of the plant completely covered. Practically no blight
ever appeared on the foliage. There was some loss from "blast of seed
heads" due to a failure to spray the seed heads thoroughly while they
were filling out. The seed heads Were doubtless infected from the
diseased stalks that had not been removed from the garden. A very
large seed crop was harvested. The formula of the Bordeaux used at
Rose Hill was about 4-6-40, to each one hundred gallons of which was
added a "sticker" made as follows:
Two pounds resin.
One pound sal soda (Crystals).
One gallon water.
Boiled together in an iron kettle until of a clear brown color. It is
probable that more applications of Bordeaux were given than was
necessary, especially during the middle part of the season when
little new growth was being made.
From these experiments it is evident that the problem of the control
of the Alternaria Blight of Ginseng has been solved. Thorough
spraying with Bordeaux mixture begun when the plants first come thru
the ground and repeated often enough to keep all new growths covered,
will insure immunity from the blight. Thoroughness is the chief
factor in the success of this treatment. It is, however, useless to
begin spraying after the disease has begun to appear on the foliage.
* * *
"To the President and Members of the Missouri State Ginseng Growers'
Gentlemen--In response to a request from your secretary, I was sent
early in August to investigate your Ginseng gardens, and, if
possible, to give some help in checking a destructive disease which
had recently appeared and had in a short time ruined much of the
crop. Thru the aid of some of your association, at the time of my
visit to Houston, and since that time, I have been furnished with
valuable data and specimens of diseased plants.
The summer of 1904 was marked by a very abundant rainfall. The shade
of the arbors kept the soil beneath them moist, if not wet, for
several weeks at a time. This moist soil, rich in humus and other
organic substances, formed an exceedingly favorable place for the
growth of fungi. Gardens under dense shade with poor drainage,
suffered the greatest loss. All ages of plants were attacked and
seemed to suffer alike, if the conditions were favorable for the
growth of fungi.
Symptoms of Disease and Nature of the Injury.
Between the first and the fifteenth of May black spots having the
appearance of scars appeared on the stems of the Ginseng plants. All
ages of plants were attacked. The scars increased in number and grew
in size, sometimes encircling the stem.
The first indication of injury was seen when one leaflet after
another turned brown; from them the disease spread down the petiole
to the main stalk. Other stalks were attacked so badly that they
broke off and fell over before the upper portions had even become
withered. After the loss of the top from this disease the crown of
the root was liable to be attacked by fungi or bacteria, causing
decay. I found little of this in the gardens at Houston. The greatest
loss caused by this disease lies in the destruction of the seed crop.
I have succeeded in isolating and studying the fungus which causes
this disease. The fungus belongs to the genus Vermicularia and occurs
on a number of our common herbaceous plants. I found it near Columbia
this autumn on the Indian turnip. The fungus lives beneath the
epidermis of the Ginseng plant; breaking the epidermis to form the
black scars in which the spores, or reproductive bodies, are
produced. The spores when ripe are capable of germinating and
infecting other plants.
Fortunately this disease can be effectually checked by the use of
Bordeaux spraying mixture.
Another source of loss was in the damping-off of young plants. The
fungus which causes this disease lives in the surface layer of the
soil and girdles the plants at the surface layer of the ground,
causing them to wilt and fall over. The trouble can be largely
avoided by proper drainage and stirring the surface layer, thus
aerating and drying the soil.
The Wilt Disease.
By far the most destructive and dangerous disease remains to be
described. It made its appearance about the first week in July,
causing the leaves to turn yellow and dry up; the seed stem and
berries also dried up and died before reaching maturity. This was the
disease which caused the greatest loss; whole plantations often being
destroyed in a week. Neither the Bordeaux spraying mixture nor lime
dust seemed to check its ravages.
I have succeeded in isolating the fungus which is the cause of this
destructive disease and have grown it in the laboratory in pure
cultures for nearly five months. Cultures were made by scraping the
dark spots on diseased stems with a sterile needle and inoculating
sterilized bean pods or plugs of potato with the spores scraped from
the stem. In two or three days a white, fluffy growth appears on the
bean pod which rapidly spreads until it is covered with a growth
which resembles a luxuriant mould. I have also isolated this fungus
and made cultures from the soil taken from diseased beds.
The fungus belongs to the genus Fusarium and is probably identical
with the fungus which is so destructive in causing the wilt of
cotton, watermelon and cowpeas, and which has been carefully studied
by Smith and Orton of the United States Department of Agriculture.
It will be seen from this brief description of the fungus that it is
an exceedingly difficult disease to combat. Living from year to year
in the soil it enters the plants thru the roots and spreads upward
thru the water-conducting channels. It does not once appear on the
surface until the plant is beyond recovery. Obviously we cannot apply
any substance to kill the fungus without first killing the plant it
There is but one conclusion to be drawn, viz.: That application of
fungicides will not prevent the wilt disease.
There are, however, two methods of procedure in combating the
disease: First, the use of precautions against allowing the fungus to
get started; second, the selection and breeding of varieties which
will withstand the disease.
From the very first the arbor should be kept free from all possible
infection by the wilt fungus.
Gardens should be small and located some little distance apart, then
if one becomes infected with the disease it can be taken up before
the disease infests a larger territory. If the roots have reached
merchantable size they had best be dried and sold, since they are
likely to carry the disease when transplanted. If they are
transplanted they should be carefully cleaned and reset without
Proper drainage is very necessary for a successful Ginseng garden. It
is advisable to locate the garden on a gentle slope if possible. In
all cases the ground should be well drained.
The belief of many that the death of the Ginseng was due to the wet
season was without foundation, because the fungus develops best in
soil which is continually moist and shady. This also accounts for the
well-known fact that all rots, mildews and rusts are worse in a rainy
season than in a dry one.
[Illustration: The Beginning of Soft Rot.]
Ample ventilation must also be provided in building the arbor. Many
arbors are enclosed at the sides too tightly.
The material used for mulching should be of a sort which will not
contaminate the garden with disease. Some fungi will be killed if the
ground is allowed to freeze before putting on the mulch.
The second and, to my mind, most promising mode of procedure lies in
propagating a variety of Ginseng which will be resistant to the wilt
disease. In every garden, no matter how badly diseased, there are
certain plants which live thru the attacks of the disease and ripen
seeds. These seeds should be saved and planted separately, the
hardiest of their offspring should be used to propagate seeds for
future planting. By thus selecting the hardiest individuals year
after year it will be possible in time to originate a variety of
parasitic fungi. There seems to me to be more hope in developing such
a resistant variety of Ginseng than in discovering some fungicide to
keep the disease in check.
It is surprising that any considerable number of farmers,
horticulturists, Ginseng growers, etc., are ignorant of a preparation
so necessary as Bordeaux for profitable cultivation of many crops.
The following is taken from Bulletin 194 of the New Jersey
Agricultural Experiment Station. The advice given in this paper
recently by Professor Craig is repeated and emphasized. Every farmer
should have the bulletins issued by the experiment station of his own
state and have them within easy reach at all times.
Bordeaux mixture derives its name from the place of its discovery,
Bordeaux, France. It consists of copper sulfate, which is commonly
called blue vitriol or bluestone, fresh lime and water.
Formulas used--Several strengths of the mixture are used under
1. (2:4:50) Copper Sulfate 2 lbs.
Quick Lime 4 "
Water 50 gals.
2. (3:6:50) Copper Sulfate 3 lbs.
Quick Lime 6 "
Water 50 gals.
3. (4:4:50) Copper Sulfate 4 lbs.
Quick Lime 4 "
Water 50 gals.
4. (6:6:50) Copper Sulfate 6 lbs.
Quick Lime 6 "
Water 50 gals.
Formula 1 is used for very tender foliage, as peach, plum, greenhouse
plants, tender seedlings, etc.
Formula 2 which is a half stronger than the preceding has about the
same use but for slightly less tender leaves.
Formula 3 is the formula for general use on apples, pears, asparagus,
grapes, tomatoes, melons, strawberries, etc.
Formula 4 is the strongest formula that is often used. It is
considered best for potatoes and cranberries. It may be used on
grapes, on apples and pears before blossoming and sometimes on other
crops. It was once more commonly used, but, except as here quoted, it
is generally being displaced by Formula 3.
* * *
Normal or 1.6 per cent. Bordeaux mixture:
Copper-sulfate (Blue Vitriol) 6 pounds
Quick-lime (Good stone lime) 4 "
Water 50 gallons
Six pounds of sulfate of copper dissolved in fifty gallons of water,
when applied at the proper time, will prevent the growth of fungi.
However, if applied in this form, the solution will burn the foliage.
Four pounds of quick-lime to six pounds of copper will neutralize the
caustic action. When sulfate of copper and lime are added in this
proportion, the compound is Bordeaux mixture.
Weighing of copper and lime at time of mixing is very inconvenient.
Bordeaux mixture is best when used within a few hours after being
mixed. Therefore a stock mixture of Bordeaux is impracticable. It is,
however, practicable to have stock preparation of sulfate of copper
and of lime ready for mixing when required.
The lime should be fresh quick-lime and when slaked must always be
covered with water to exclude the air. In this manner a "stock"
mixture of lime can be kept all summer unimpaired.
Sulfate of copper can be dissolved in water and held in solution
until needed. One gallon of water will hold in solution two pounds of
copper sulfate. To accomplish this the sulfate should be suspended at
the surface of the water in a bag. The water most loaded with copper
will sink to the bottom and the water least loaded will rise to the
surface. If fifty pounds of sulfate are suspended in twenty-five
gallons of water on an evening, each gallon of water will, when
stirred the next morning, hold two pounds of sulfate. This will form
the stock solution of copper sulfate.
If three gallons of this solution are put in the spray barrel, it is
equivalent to six pounds of copper. Now fill the spray barrel half
full of water before adding any lime. This is important for if the
lime is added to so strong a solution of sulfate of copper, a
curdling process will follow. Stir the water in the lime barrel so as
to make a dilute milk of lime, but never allow it to be dense enough
to be of a creamy thickness. If of the latter condition, lumps of
lime will clog the spray nozzle. Continue to add to the mixture this
milk of lime so long as drops of ferrocyanide of potassium (yellow
prussiate of potash) applied to the Bordeaux mixture continue to
change from yellow to brown color. When no change of color is shown,
add another pail of milk of lime to make the necessary amount of lime
a sure thing. A considerable excess of lime does no harm. The barrel
can now be filled with water and the Bordeaux mixture is ready for
The preparation of ferrocyanide of potassium for this test may be
explained. As bought at the drug store, it is a yellow crystal and is
easily soluble in water. Ten cents worth will do for a season's
spraying of an average orchard. It should be a full saturation; that
is, use only enough water to dissolve all the crystals. The cork
should be notched or a quill inserted so that the contents will come
out in drops. A drop will give as reliable a test as a spoonful. The
bottle should be marked "Poison." Dip out a little of the Bordeaux
mixture in a cup or saucer and drop the ferrocyanide on it. So long
as the drops turn yellow or brown on striking the mixture, the
mixture has not received enough lime.
"Process" Lime for Bordeaux Mixture.
The so-called "new process," or prepared limes, now offered on the
market, are of two classes. One consists of the quick-lime that has
been ground to a powder. The other is the dry water-slaked lime made
by using only enough water to slake the quick-lime, but not enough to
leave it wet. Practically all of the process lime on the market is
the ground quick-lime.
When the hard "stone" lime becomes air-slaked it is evident to the
eye from the change to a loose powdery mass. Should one of these
prepared limes be to any considerable degree air-slaked, its
appearance would be no indication of its real condition.
A simple test for the presence of much carbonate of lime in these
prepared limes, can be easily performed, a small amount of lime--1/4
teaspoonful--dropped on a little hot vinegar, will effervesce or
"sizzle" if it contain the carbonate of lime, acting about the same
A sample of a new process lime analyzed at this Station showed 30 per
cent, magnesia. This came from burning a dolomitic limestone, that
is, one containing carbonate of magnesia with the carbonate of lime.
The magnesia does not slake with water like the lime and hence is
useless in the Bordeaux mixture. There is no easy way outside a
chemical laboratory of telling the presence of magnesia.
As a general rule more "process" lime is required to neutralize the
copper sulfate than good stone lime. It is always well to make
Bordeaux mixture by using the ferrocyanide of potassium test--Cornell
MARKETING AND PRICES.
Preparing Dry Root for Market--There are more growers of Ginseng, I
believe, according to Special Crops, who are not fully posted on
handling Ginseng root after it is harvested than there are who fail
at any point in growing it, unless it may be in the matter of
There are still many growers who have never dried any roots, and of
course know nothing more than has been told them. Stanton, Crossley
and others of the pioneers state freely in their writings that three
pounds of green root (fall dug) would make one pound of dry.
The market does not want a light, corky, spongy root, neither does it
want a root that, when dried, will weigh like a stone. Root when
offered to a dealer should be absolutely dry, not even any moisture
in the center of the root. Root that is absolutely dry will, in warm,
damp weather, collect moisture enough so it will have to be given a
day's sun bath or subjected to artificial heat. A root should be so
dry that it will not bend. A root the size of a lead pencil should
break short like a piece of glass. You ask why this special care to
have Ginseng root dry to the last particle of moisture more than any
other root. The answer is that Ginseng has to cross the ocean and to
insure against its getting musty when sealed up to keep it from the
air, it must be perfectly dry.
We know a great many growers have felt hurt because a dealer docked
them for moisture, but they should put themselves in the dealer's
place. When he disposes of the root it must be perfectly dry. At from
$5.00 to $10.00 per pound moisture is rather expensive. The grower
should see to it that his root is dry and then instruct the man he
ships to that you will stand no cutting.
[Illustration: Dug and Dried--Ready for Market.]
One other cause of trouble between grower and dealer is fiber root.
This light, fine stuff is almost universally bought and sold at $1.00
per pound. This seems to be the only stationary thing about Ginseng.
It would seem that the fine root could be used in this country for
Ginseng tincture, but it is not so strong as the regular root, and
our chemists prefer the large cultivated root at $5.00 to $7.00 a
pound. Now, when your Ginseng root is "dry as a bone," stir it around
or handle it over two or three times, and in doing so you will knock
off all the little, fine roots. This is what goes in the market as
fiber root and should be gathered and put in a separate package. As I
said before this fiber root is worth $1.00 per pound and usually
passes right along year after year at that same price.
Now as to color. It is impossible to tell just now what color the
market will demand. We advise medium. We do not think the extreme
dark will be as much sought for as formerly; neither do we think the
snow white will be in demand. Now, you can give your Ginseng any
color you desire. If you want to dry it white, wash it thoroughly as
soon as you dig it. This does not mean two or three hours after being
dug, but wash it at once. If you want a very dark root, dig it and
spread on some floor and leave it as long as you can without the
fiber roots breaking. This will usually be from three to five days.
In washing we prefer to put it on the floor and turn a hose on it,
and if you have a good pressure you will not need to touch the root
with the hands. In any case do not scrub and scour the root. Just get
the dirt off and stop. About one day after digging the root should be
washed if a medium colored root is desired.
After your root is washed ready to dry there is still a half dozen
ways of drying. Many prefer an upper room in the house for small
lots. Spread the root on a table or bench about as high as the window
stool. Then give it lots of air. Another good method is to subject it
to a moderate artificial heat--from 60 to 90 degrees. We have seen
some very nice samples of dry root where the drying was all done on
the roof of some building, where it was exposed to the sun and dew,
but was protected from rain. The slower the drying the darker the
Many suppose it is a difficult task to properly dry the Ginseng root,
but it is not. The one essential is time. The operation cannot be
fully and properly completed in much less than one month's time. Of
course it should be dried fast enough so it will not sour, rot or
mould. If you take a look at the root every day you can readily see
if it is going too slow and, if you find it is, at once use
artificial heat for a few hours or days if need be. No diseased or
unsound root should ever be dried. After the root is once dry it
should be stored in dry place. Early fall generally is a poor time to
sell as the Chinese exporters usually crowd the price down at that
In the Southern States artificial heat is seldom needed as the
weather is usually warm enough to cure the roots about as they should
be. In the Northern States, such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan,
New York and New England States, cold and frosty nights and chilly
days usually come in October, and sometimes in September, so that
artificial heat is generally required to properly dry fall dug roots.
The statistics as published were compiled by Belt, Butler Co., buyers
of Ginseng, 140 Greene St., New York:
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1886, $1.90
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1887, $2.10
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1888, $2.30
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1889, $2.85
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1890, $3.40
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1891, $3.40
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1892, $3.00
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1893, $3.00
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1894, $3.50
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1895, $3.25
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1896, $4.10
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1897, $3.25
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1898, $4.00
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1899, $6.00
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1900, $5.00
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1901, $5.50
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1902, $5.10
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1903, $6.20
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1904, $7.40
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1905, $7.00
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1906, $7.00
Average prices for wild Ginseng, Sept. 1st, 1907, $7.00
The prices as published, it will be noticed, were average prices paid
for wild Ginseng September 1 of each year. Wild Ginseng has usually
sold higher in the season, say October and November. Late in the
season of 1904 it sold for $8.50 for good Northern root, which we
believe was the top notch for average lots.
From 1860 to 1865, Ginseng ranged from 66c to 85c per lb., and from
that period until 1899 it gradually increased in price until in
September of that year it brought from $3.50 to $6.50 per lb.,
according to price and quality. In 1900 prices ruled from $3.00 to
$5.75 per lb., but this was due to the war then existing in China
which completely demoralized the market.
In 1901 prices ranged from $3.75 to $7.25
1902 prices ranged from 3.50 to 6.25
1903 prices ranged from 4.75 to 7.50
1904 prices ranged from 5.50 to 8.00
1905 prices ranged from 5.50 to 7.50
1906 prices ranged from 5.75 to 7.50
1907 prices ranged from 5.75 to 7.25
These prices cover the range from Southern to best Northern root.
The above information was furnished from the files of Samuel Wells &
Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, the firm which has been in the "seng" business
for more than half a century.
* * *
U. S. GOVERNMENT REPORTS.
Year Pounds Average price
exported. per lb.
1858 366,055 $ .52
1868 370,066 1.02
1878 421,395 1.17
1888 308,365 2.13
1898 174,063 3.66
1901 149,069 5.30
* * *
Export of Ginseng for ten months ending April, 1908, was 144,533
pounds, valued at $1,049,736, against 92,650, valued at $634,523, for
ten months ending April, 1907, and 151,188 pounds, valued at
$1,106,544 for ten months ending April, 1906.
Since 1858 Ginseng has advanced from 52 cents a pound to $8.00 in
1907 for choice lots, an advance of 1400%.
In September, 1831, Ginseng was quoted to the collector at 15 to 16
cents per pound.
In the first place, practically all the Ginseng grown or collected
from the woods in this country is exported, nearly all of it going to
China, where it is used for medicinal purposes. The following figures
are taken from the advanced sheets of the Monthly Summary of Commerce
and Finance issued by the United States Department of Commerce and
Labor. In the advanced sheets for June, 1906, we find under exports
of Domestic Merchandise the following item:
Twelve Months Ending June.
1904 131,882 $851,820
1905 146,586 $1,069,849
1906 160,959 $1,175,844
From these figures it is clear that the Ginseng crop is of
considerable proportions and steadily increasing. It is classed with
chemicals, drugs, dyes and medicines and is in its class equaled or
exceeded in value by only three things: copper sulphate, acetate of
lime and patent medicines. These figures include, of course, both the
wild and cultivated root. A little investigation, however, will soon
convince any one that the genuine wild root has formed but a small
portion of that exported in the last three years. This is for the
very good reason that there is practically no wild root to be found.
It has been all but exterminated by the "seng digger," who has
carefully searched every wooded hillside and ravine to meet the
demand of the last few years for green roots for planting.
Practically all of the Ginseng now exported will of necessity be
cultivated. Of all the Ginseng exported from this country, New York
State very probably supplies the greater part. It was in that state
that the cultivation of the plant originated and it is there that the
culture has become most extensive and perfected. The largest garden
in this country, so far as known, is that of the Consolidated Ginseng
Company of New York State. Here about ten acres are under shade, all
devoted to the growing of Ginseng. The crop is certainly a special
one, to be successfully grown only by those who can bring to their
work an abundance of time and intelligent effort. For those who are
willing to run the risks of loss from diseases and who can afford to
wait for returns on their investment, this crop offers relatively
[Illustration: A Three Year Old Cultivated Root.]
It is very simple to prepare a few wild roots for market. Wash them
thoroughly, this I do with a tooth or nail brush, Writes a Northern
grower, as they will remove the dirt from the creases without injury.
Only a few roots should be put in the water at once as it does not
benefit them to soak.
I have usually dried wild roots in the sun, which is the best way,
but never put roots in the hot sun before the outside is dry, as they
are apt to rot.
The cultivated root is more difficult to handle. They are cleaned the
same as wild roots. On account of size and quality they have to be
dried differently. My first cultivated roots were dried around the
cook stove, which will answer for a few roots, providing the "lady of
the house" is good natured.
Last year I dried about 500 pounds of green roots and so had to find
something different. I made a drier similar to Mr. Stanton's plan, i.
e., a box any size to suit the amount of roots you wish to dry. The
one I made is about two feet by two and a half feet and two and
one-half feet high, with one side open for the drawers to be taken
out. The drawers are made with screen wire for bottom.
They should be at least two inches deep and two and one-half inches
would be better. I bored a three-fourth-inch hole in the top a little
ways from each corner and five in the center in about ten inches
square, but now I have taken the top off, as I find they dry better.
I started this on the cook stove, but did not like it as I could not
control the heat. As I had two Blue Flame oil stoves I tried it over
one of them and it worked fine.
They were three-hole stoves, so I laid a board across each end for
the drier to rest on. The drier has a large nail driven in each
corner of the bottom so that it was four inches above the stove. Then
I fixed a piece of galvanized iron about 10x20 inches so that it was
about two inches above top of stove, for the heat to strike against
and not burn the roots.
At first I left out two of the lower drawers for fear of burning
them. I only used the middle burner--and that turned quite low. I
tried the flame with my hand between the stove and roots so as not to
get it too high.
In this way I could get a slow heat and no danger of burning, which
is the main trouble with drying by stove. It would take from two to
four days to dry them, according to size. As soon as they were dried
they were put in open boxes so if there was any moisture it could dry
out and not mould, which they will do if closed up tight.
In using an oil stove one should be used that will not smoke. Never
set the roots over when the stove is first lighted and they should be
removed before turning the flame out, as they are apt to get smoked.
Do not set stove in a draft.
In packing the dry root in boxes I break off the fine fiber, then
they are ready for market.
Some time prior to 1907, or since cultivated Ginseng has been upon
the market, its value has been from $1.00 to $2.00 per pound less
than the wild and not in as active demand, even at that difference,
as the wild. Today the value is much nearer equal. At first those
engaged in the cultivation of Ginseng made the soil too rich by
fertilizing and growth of the roots was so rapid that they did not
contain the peculiar scent or odor of the genuine or wild. Of late
years growers have learned to provide their plants with soil and
surroundings as near like nature as possible. To this can largely be
attributed the change.
Preparing the Roots for Market.
The roots are dug in the autumn, after the tops have died. Great care
is taken not to bruise or injure them. They are then washed in rain
water, the soil from all crevices and cracks being carefully cleaned
away by a soft brush. Then they are wiped on a soft absorbent cloth,
and are ready to be dried for market. The roots should never be split
in washing or drying. It is of great importance, too, that the little
neck or bud-stem should be unbroken, for if missing the root loses
two-thirds of its value in Chinese eyes. The roots may be dried in
the sun or in a warm, dry room, but never over a stove or fire. Some
growers have a special drier and use hot air very much on the
principle of an evaporator. This does the work quickly and
satisfactorily. As soon as the little fibrous roots are dry enough,
they arc either clipped off or rubbed away by hand, and the root
returned to the drier to be finished. The more quickly the roots are
dried the better, if not too much heated. Much of the value of the
product depends on the manner in which it is cured. This method is
the one usually employed in America, but the Chinese prepare the root
in various ways not as yet very well understood in the United States.
Their preparation undoubtedly adds to the value of the product with
Importance of Taste and Flavor.
Soils and fertilizers have a marked influence on products where taste
and flavor is important, as with tobacco, coffee, tea, certain
fruits, etc. This is true of Ginseng in a very marked degree. To
preserve the flavor which marks the best grade of Ginseng, by which
the Chinese judge it, it is essential that the soil in the beds
should be as near like the original native forest as possible. Woods
earth and leaf mold should be used in liberal quantities. Hardwood
ashes and some little bone meal may be added, but other fertilizers
are best avoided to be on the safe side.
When the chief facts of Ginseng culture had been ascertained, it
naturally followed that some growers attempted to grow the biggest,
heaviest roots possible in the shortest time, and hence fertilized
their beds with strong, forcing manures, entirely overlooking the
question of taste or flavor. When these roots were placed on the
market the Chinese buyers promptly rejected them or took them at very
low prices on account of defective quality. This question of flavor
was a new problem to American buyers, for the reason stated and one
which they were not prepared to meet at a moment's notice. Hence
there has been a tendency with some exporters to be shy of all
cultivated roots (fearing to get some of these "off quality" lots)
until they were in position to test for flavor or taste by expert
testers, as is done with wines, teas, coffees, tobaccos and other
products where flavor is essential.
This mistake led to the belief with some that the cultivated root is
less valuable than the wild, but the very reverse is true. It has
been proven by the fact that until these "off quality" lots appeared
to disturb the market and shake confidence for the time being,
cultivated roots have always commanded a much better price per pound
than uncultivated. The grower who freely uses soil from the forest
and lets forcing fertilizers severely alone, has nothing to fear from
defective quality, and will always command a good price for his
Ginseng should only be dug for the market late in the fall. In the
spring and summer the plant is growing and the root is taxed to
supply the required nutriment. After the plant stops growing for the
season the root becomes firm and will not dry out as much as earlier
in the season. It takes four to five pounds of the green root early
in the season to make one of dry; later three green will make one of
In the Ginseng, like many other trades, there are tricks. In some
sections they practice hollowing out roots while green and filling
the cavity with lead or iron. When Ginseng is worth four or five
dollars per pound and lead or iron only a few cents, the profit from
this nefarious business can be seen. The buyers have "got on to" the
practice, however, and any large roots that appear too heavy are
examined. The filling of roots with lead, etc., has about had its
Seng should be dug and washed clean before it wilts or shrinks; it
should then be dried in the shade where the dust and dirt cannot
reach it and should not be strung on strings. The roots should be
handled carefully so as not to break them up, the more fiber the less
the value, as well as size which helps to determine the value.
The collecting of the root for the market by the local dealer has its
charm; at least one would think so, to see how eagerly it is sought
after by the collector, who often finds when he has enough for a
shipment that he faces a loss instead of a profit. The continual
decrease in the annual output of the root should produce a steadily
advancing market. The price does advance from year to year, but the
variation in the price of silver and the scheming of the Chinamen
produces crazy spurts in the price of the root.
Present prices are rather above average, but little can be predicted
about future conditions. Chinese conservatism, however, leads us to
believe present prices will continue.
LETTERS FROM GROWERS.
The culture of Ginseng has a pioneer or two located in this part of
the country (N. Ohio), and having one-fourth of an acre under
cultivation myself, it was with interest that I visited some of these
growers and the fabulous reports we have been reading have not been
much exaggerated, in my estimation, but let me say right here they
are not succeeding with their acres as they did with their little
patch in the garden. One party gathered 25 pounds of seed from a bed
40x50 feet last season, and has contracted 30 pounds of the seed at
$36 per pound, which he intends to gather from this bed this season.
He then intends to dig it, and I will try to get the facts for this
Now, to my own experience. I planted three hundred roots in the fall
of '99. The following season from the lack of sufficient shade they
failed to produce any seed; I should have had two or three thousand
seed. Understand, these were wild roots just as they were gathered
from the forest.
In 1901 I gathered about one pound or 8,000 seed, in 1902 three
pounds and am expecting 30,000 seed from these 300 plants this
season. Last season I gathered 160 seed from one of these plants and
200 seed bunches are not uncommon for cultivated roots to produce at
their best. I have dug no roots for market yet, as there has been too
great a demand for the seed. My one-fourth acre was mostly planted
last season, and is looking very favorable at the present time. It is
planted in beds 130 feet long and 5 feet wide; the beds are ridged up
with a path and ditch 2 feet across from plant to plant, making the
beds, including the paths, 7 feet wide. Beds arranged in this manner
with the posts that support the shade set in the middle of the beds
are very convenient to work in, as you do not have to walk in the
beds, all the work being done from the paths.
My soil is a clay loam and it was necessary for me to place a row of
tile directly under one bed; this bed contains 1,000 plants and has
been planted two years, and I find the tile a protection against
either dry or wet weather; I shall treat all beds in a like manner
If you are thinking of going into the Ginseng business and your soil
is sand or gravel, your chances for success are good; if your soil is
clay, build your beds near large trees on dry ground or tile them and
you will come out all right. In regard to the over-production of this
article, would say that dry Ginseng root is not perishable, it will
keep indefinitely and the producers of this article will not be
liable to furnish it to the Chinaman only as he wants it at a fair
W. C. Sorter, Lake County, Ohio.
* * *
Even in this thickly settled country, I have been able to make more
money digging Ginseng than by trapping, and I believe that most
trappers could do the same if they became experts at detecting the
wild plant in its native haunts.
I have enjoyed hunting and trapping ever since I could carry a
firearm with any degree of safety to myself, and have tramped thru
woods full of Ginseng and Golden Seal for twenty years, without
knowing it. Three years ago last summer I saw an advertisement
concerning Ginseng Culture. I sent and got the literature on the
subject and studied up all I could. Then I visited a garden where a
few cultivated plants were grown, and so learned to know the plant. I
had been told that it grew in the heavy timber lands along Rock
River, so I thought I would start a small garden of some 100 or 200
The first half day I found 6 plants, and no doubt tramped on twice
that many, for I afterward found them thick where I had hunted. The
next time I got 26 roots; then 80, so I became more adept in
"spotting" the plants, the size of my "bag" grew until in September I
got 343 roots in one day. That fall, 1904, I gathered 5,500 roots and
2,000 or 3,000 seed. These roots and seed I set out in the garden in
beds 5 feet wide and 40 feet long, putting the roots in 3 or 5 inches
apart anyway, and the seeds broadcast and in rows. I mulched with
chip manure, leaf mold and horse manure. Covered with leaves in the
fall, and built my fence.
The next spring the plants were uncovered and they came well. I
believe nearly every one came up. They were too thick, but I left
them. The mice had run all thru the seed bed and no doubt eaten a lot
of the seed. That spring I bought 5,000 seed of a "seng" digger and
got "soaked." The fall of 1905 I dug 500 more roots and harvested
15,000 seeds from my beds. The roots were planted in an addition and
seed put down cellar. Last fall I gathered 5,500 more roots from the
woods, grew about 3,000 seedlings in the garden and harvested 75,000
seeds. I dug a few of the older roots and sold them.
The worst enemy I find to Ginseng culture is Alternaria, of a form of
fungus growth on the leaf of the plant. This disease started in my
beds last year, but I sprayed with Bordeaux Mixture and checked it. I
have not as yet been troubled with "damping off" of seedlings. I
shall try Bordeaux if it occurs.
My garden is now 100 feet by 50 feet, on both sides of a row of apple
trees, in good rich ground which had once been a berry patch. I used
any old boards I could get for the side fence, not making it too
tight. For shade I have tried everything I could think of. I used
burlap tacked on frames, but it rotted in one season. I used willow
and pine brush and throwed corn stalks and sedge grass on them. For
all I could see, the plants grew as well under such shade as under
lath, although the appearance of the yard is not so good. I also ran
wild cucumbers over the brush and like them very well. They run about
15 feet, so they do not reach the center of the garden until late in
the season. I planted them only around the edge of the garden.
[Illustration: Bed of Mature Ginseng Plants Under Lattice.]
In preparing my soil, I mixed some sand with the garden soil to make
it lighter; also, woods earth, leaf mold, chip manure and barnyard
manure, leaving it mostly on top. I take down the shade each fall and
cover beds with leaves and brush. This industry is not the gold mine
it was cracked up to be. The price is going down, lumber for yard and
shade is going up. The older the garden, the more one has to guard
against diseases, so one may not expect more than average returns for
his time and work. Still I enjoy the culture, and the work is not so
hard, and it is very interesting to see this shy wild plant growing
in its new home.
In order to keep up the demand for Ginseng, we must furnish the
quality the Chinese desire, and to do this, I believe we must get
back to the woods and rotten oak and maple wood, leaf mold and the
humid atmosphere of the deep woodlands. I have learned much during
the short time I have been growing the plant, but have only given a
few general statements.
John Hooper, Jefferson Co., Wis.
* * *
I believe most any one that lives where Ginseng will grow could make
up a small bed or two in their garden and by planting large roots and
shading it properly, could make it a nice picture. Then if they could
sell their seed at a good price might make it profitable, but when it
comes down to growing Ginseng for market I believe the only place
that one could make a success would be in the forest or in new ground
that still has woods earth in it and then have it properly shaded.
The finest garden I ever saw is shaded with strips split from
chestnut cuts or logs. There are thousands of young "seng" in this
garden from seedlings up to four years old this fall, and several
beds of roots all sizes that were dug from the woods wild and are
used as seeders. These plants have a spreading habit and have a dark
green healthy look that won't rub off. It is enough to give "seng"
diggers fits to see them.
I have my Ginseng garden in a grove handy to the house, where it does
fairly well, only it gets a little too much sun. I have a few hundred
in the forest, where it gets sufficient shade and there is a vast
difference in the color and thriftiness of the two.
The seed crop will be a little short this fall in this section, owing
to heavy frosts in May which blighted the blossom buds on the first
seng that came up. My seed crop last fall was ten quarts of berries
which are buried now in sand boxes. My plan for planting them this
fall is to stick the seeds in beds about 4x4 inches.
I see where some few think that the mulch should be taken off in the
spring, which I think is all wrong. I have been experimenting for
seven years with Ginseng and am convinced that the right way is to
keep it mulched with leaves. The leaves keep the ground cool, moist
and mellow and the weeds are not half so hard to keep down. It is
surely the natural way to raise Ginseng.
My worst trouble in raising Ginseng is the damping off of the
seedlings. My worst pest is chickweed, which grows under the mulch
and seems to grow all winter. It seeds early and is brittle and hard
to get the roots when pulling. Plantain is bad sometimes, the roots
go to the bottom of the bed. Gladd weed is also troublesome. I think
one should be very careful when they gather the mulch for it is an
easy matter to gather up a lot of bad weed seed.
I see in the H-T-T where some use chip manure on their "seng" beds. I
tried that myself, but will not use it again on seed beds any way. I
found it full of slugs and worms which preyed on the seedlings.
Sometimes cut worms cut off a good many for me. Grub worms eat a root
now and then. Leaf rollers are bad some years, but the worst enemy of
all is wood mice. If one does not watch carefully they will destroy
hundreds of seed in a few nights.
I find the best way to destroy them is to set little spring traps
where they can run over them. There was a new pest in this locality
this year which destroyed a big lot of seed. It was a green cricket
something like a katydid. They were hard to catch, too.
Thos. G. Fulcomer, Indiana Co., Pa.
[Illustration: Some Thrifty Plants--An Ohio Garden.]
The notions of the Chinese seem as difficult to change as the law of
the Medes and Persians, and his notion that the cultivated article is
no good, if once established, will always be established. This will
be a sad predicament for the thousands who may be duped by the
reckless Ginseng promoter. One principle of success in my business is
to please the purchaser or consumer. This is the biggest factor in
The Chinaman wants a certain quality of flavor, shape, color, etc.,
in his Ginseng, and as soon as the cultivators learn and observe his
wishes so soon will they be on the right road to success. Ginseng has
been brought under cultivation and by doing this it has been removed
from its natural environments and subjected to new conditions, which
are making a change in the root. The object of the Ginseng has been
lost sight of and the only principle really observed has been to grow
the root, disregarding entirely the notions of the consumer.
Thousands have been induced by the flattering advertisements to
invest their money and begin the culture of Ginseng. Not one-half of
these people are familiar with the plant in its wild state and have
any idea of its natural environments. They are absolutely unfit to
grow and prepare Ginseng for the Chinese market. Thousands of roots
have been spoiled in the growing or in the drying by this class of
Ginseng growers. Many roots have been scorched with too much heat,
many soured with not the right conditions of heat, many more have
been spoiled in flavor by growing in manured beds and from certain
fertilizers. All these damaged roots have gone to the Chinese as
cultivated root and who could blame him for refusing to buy and look
superstitious at such roots?
Now as to profits. Not one-half the profits have been made as
represented. Not one-half of those growing Ginseng make as much as
many thousands of experienced gardeners and florists are making with
no more money invested and little if any more labor and no one thinks
or says anything about it. Many articles have appeared in the
journals of the past few years, and when you read one you will have
to read all, for in most part they have been from the over-stimulated
mind of parties seeking to get sales for so-called nursery stock.
Probably the first man to successfully cultivate Ginseng was Mr.
Stanton, of New York State. His gardens were in the forest, from this
success many followed. Then the seed venders and wide publicity and
the garden cultivation under lattice shade. Then the refusal of the
Chinese to buy these inferior roots.
Now, it is my opinion the growers must return to the forest and spare
no labor to see that the roots placed on the market are in accordance
with the particular notions of the consumer. Ginseng growers may then
hope to establish a better price and ready market for their root.
The color required by the Chinese, so far as my experiments go, come
from certain qualities of soil. The yellow color in demand comes to
those roots growing in soil rich in iron. The particular aromatic
flavor comes from those growing in clay loam and abundant leaf mold
of the forest. I have found that by putting sulphate of iron
sparingly in beds and the roots growing about two years in this take
on the yellow color.
I have three gardens used for my experiments, two in forest and one
in garden. They contain altogether about twenty-five thousand plants.
One garden is on a steep north hillside, heavily shaded by timber.
These plants have a yellowish color and good aromatic taste. They
have grown very slow here; about as much in three years as they grow
in one year in the garden. The other forest garden is in an upland
grove with moderate drain, clay loam and plenty of leaf mold; the
trees are thin and trimmed high. The beds are well made, the roots
are light yellow and good flavor, they grow large and thrifty like
the very best of wild.
I am now planting the seed six inches apart and intend to leave them
in the bed without molesting until matured. The beds under the
lattice in the garden have grown large, thick, white and brittle,
having many rootlets branching from the ends of the roots, The soil
is of a black, sandy loam. They do not have the fine aromatic flavor
of those roots growing in the woods.
The plants I have used in the most part were produced from the forest
here in Minnesota and purchased from some diggers in Wisconsin. I
have a few I procured from parties advertising seed and plants, but
find that the wild roots and seeds are just as good for the purpose
of setting if due care is exercised in sorting the roots.
There has been considerable said in the past season by those desiring
to sell nursery stock condemning the commission houses and ignoring
or minimizing the seriousness of the condition which confronts the
Ginseng grower in a market for his root. Now, I believe the
commission men are desirous of aiding the Ginseng growers in a market
for his roots so long as the grower is careful in his efforts to
produce an article in demand by the consumer.
In my opinion those who are desirous of entering an industry of this
kind will realize the most profits in the long run if they devote
attention to the study and cultivation of those medical plants used
in the therapy of the regular practice of medicine, such as
Hydrastis, Seneca, Sanguinaria, Lady Slipper, Mandrake, etc. They are
easily raised and have a ready market at any of our drug mills. I
have experimented with a number of these and find they thrive under
the care of cultivation and I believe in some instances the real
medical properties are improved, as Atropine in Belladonna and
Hydrastine in Hydrastis.
I have several thousand Hydrastis plants under cultivation and intend
to make tests this season for the quantity of Hydrastine in a given
weight of Hydrastis and compare with the wild article. It is the
amount of Hydrastine or alkaloid in a fluid extract which by test
determines the standard of the official preparation and is the real
valuable part of the root.
This drug has grown wonderfully in favor with the profession in
recent years and this increased demand with decrease of supply has
sent the price of the article soaring so that we are paying five
times as much for the drug in stock today as we paid only three or
four years ago.
I trust that I have enlarged upon and presented some facts which may
be of interest and cause those readers who are interested in this
industry to have a serious regard for the betterment of present
conditions, to use more caution in supplying the market and not allow
venders to seriously damage the industry by their pipe dream in an
attempt to find sales for so-called nursery stock.
L. C Ingram, M. D., Wabasha County, Minn.
* * *
It was in the year of 1901, in the month of June, that I first heard
of the wonderful Ginseng plant. Being a lover of nature and given to
strolling in the forests at various times, I soon came to know the
Ginseng plant in its wild state.
Having next obtained some knowledge regarding the cultivation of this
plant from a grower several miles away, I set my first roots to the
number of 100 in rich, well-drained garden soil, over which I erected
a frame and covered it with brush to serve as shade.
In the spring of 1902 nearly all the roots made their appearance and
from these I gathered a nice crop of seed later on in the season.
That summer I set out 2,200 more wild roots in common garden soil
using lath nailed to frames of scantling for shade. Lath was nailed
so as to make two-thirds of shade to one-third of sun. This kind of
shading I have since adopted for general use, because I find it the
most economical and for enduring all kinds of weather it cannot be
During the season of 1903 I lost several hundred roots by rot, caused
by an excessive wet season and imperfect drainage.
In the seasons of 1903 and 1904 I set about 2,000 wild roots in
common garden soil, mixed with sand and woods dirt and at this
writing (July 9th, 1905) some of these plants stand two feet high,
with four and five prongs on branches, thus showing the superiority
of this soil over the others I have previously tried.
[Illustration: New York Grower's Garden.]
During my five years of practical experience in the cultivation of
this plant I have learned the importance of well drained ground, with
porous open sub-soil for the cultivation of Ginseng. My experience
with clay hard-pan with improper drainage has been very
unsatisfactory, resulting from the loss of roots by rot. Clay
hard-pan sub-soil should be tile-drained.
Experience and observation have taught me that Ginseng seed is
delicate stuff to handle and it is a hard matter to impress upon
people the importance of taking care of it. I have always distinctly
stated that it must not be allowed to get dry and must be kept in
condition to promote germination from the time it is gathered until
sown. Where a consider able quantity is to be cared for, the berries
should be packed in fine, dry sifted sand soon after they are
gathered, using three quarts of sand and two quarts of berries. The
moisture of the berries will dampen the sand sufficiently. But if
only a few are to be packed the sand should be damp.
Place one-half inch sand in box and press smooth. On this place a
layer of berries; cover with sand, press, and repeat the operation
until box is full, leaving one-half inch of sand on top; on this
place wet cloth and cover with board. Place box in cellar or cool
shady place. The bottom of the box should not be tight. A few gimlet
holes with paper over them to keep the sand from sifting thru will be
all right. Any time after two or three months, during which time the
seeds have lost their pulp and nothing but the seed itself remains,
seed may be sifted out, washed, tested and repacked in damp sand
until ready to sow.
Best Time to Sow Seed.
Since it takes the seed eighteen months to germinate, seed that has
been kept over one season should be planted in August or September. I
like to get my old crop of seed out of the way before the new crop is
harvested, and also because my experience has been that early sowing
gives better results than late.
One should be careful in building his Ginseng garden that he does not
get sides closed too tight and thus prevent a free circulation of air
going thru the garden, for if such is the case during a rainy period
the garden is liable to become infected with the leaf spot and fungus
The drop in price of cultivated root was caused chiefly thru high
manuring, hasty and improper drying of the root. In order to bring
back the cultivated root to its former standing among the Chinese, we
must cease high manuring and take more pains and time in drying the
root, and then we will have a steady market for American cultivated
root for years to come.
J. V. Hardacre, Geauga County, Ohio.
* * *
In 1900 I went to the woods and secured about fifty plants of various
sizes and set them in the shade of some peach and plum trees in a
very fertile spot. They came up in 1901, that is, part of them did,
but the chickens had access to them and soon destroyed the most of
them, that is, the tops.
In 1902 only a few bunches came up, and through neglect (for I never
gave them any care) the weeds choked them and they did no good. In
1903 the spirit of Ginseng growing was revived in me and I prepared
suitable beds, shade and soil, and went to work in earnest. I secured
several more plants and reset those that I had been trying to grow
without care. In 1904 my plants came up nicely. I also secured
several hundred more plants and set them in my garden.
The plants grew well and I harvested about 1,000 seed in the fall.
Several Ginseng gardens were injured by a disease that seemed to
scald the leaves and then the stalk became affected. In a short time
the whole top of the plant died, but the root remained alive. My
Ginseng was not affected in this way, or at least I did not notice
In 1905 I had a nice lot of plants appear and they grew nicely for a
while, and as I was showing a neighbor thru the garden he pointed out
the appearance of the disease that had affected most of the gardens
in this county the previous year, and was killing the tops off of all
the Ginseng in them this year. I began at once to fight for the lives
of my plants by cutting off all affected parts and burning them.
I also took a watering pot and sprinkled the plants with Bordeaux
Mixture. This seemed to help, and but few of the plants died
I harvested several thousand seed. I placed the seed in a box of
moist sand and placed them in the cellar and about one-third of them
were germinated by the following spring, and there was not another
garden in this vicinity, to my knowledge, that secured any seed. This
fact caused me to think that spraying with Bordeaux Mixture would
check the disease. It was certain that if the disease could not be
prevented or quit of its own accord, Ginseng could not be grown in
In 1906 my plants came up nicely and grew as in the previous season.
I noticed the disease on some of the plants about the last of May so
I began removing the affected parts, also to sprinkle with Bordeaux
Mixture with about the same results as the year before. In the fall I
harvested about twelve or fifteen thousand seed.
I might say here that I sprinkled the plants about every two or three
weeks. I raised the only seed that was harvested in this vicinity,
and most all the large "seng" was dried and sold out of their
Early in 1907 I secured a compressed air sprayer, for I had come to
the conclusion that spraying would be lots better than sprinkling. On
the appearance of the first plants in the spring I began spraying and
sprayed every week or ten days until about the first of September. I
saved the life of most of my plants.
For an experiment I left about five feet of one bed of two-year-old
plants unsprayed. It grew nicely until about the 10th of June, then
the disease struck it, and in about two or three weeks it was about
all dead, while the remainder that was sprayed lived thru till frost,
and many of them bore seed. I harvested about 20,000 seed in the
I believe if I had not persisted in the spraying I would not have
harvested one fully matured seed, for none of my neighbors secured
any. In September, 1906, I dug one bed of large roots thinly set on a
bed 4x16 feet which netted me $8.49.
In September, 1907, I dug a bed 4x20 feet which netted me $19.31.
This is my experience. Of course I have omitted method of preparing
beds, shade, etc.
A. C Herrin, Pulaski County, Ky.
* * *
Many inquiries are continually being received concerning Ginseng,
Some of the many questions propounded are as follows: Is Ginseng
growing profitable? Is it a difficult crop to grow? How many years
will it take to grow marketable roots? When is the best time to set
plants and sow the seed? What kind of soil is best adapted to the
crop? Does the crop need shade while growing? Do the tops of Ginseng
plants die annually? Must the roots be dried before marketable? What
time of year do you dig the roots? Does the cultivation of the plants
require much labor? What are the roots used for and where does one
find the best markets? About what are the dry roots worth per pound?
How are the roots dried? How many roots does it take to make a pound?
Have you sold any dry roots yet from your garden? How long does it
take the seed of Ginseng to germinate?
Do you sow the seeds broadcast or plant in drills? How far apart
should the plants be set? Do you mulch beds in winter? Is it best to
reset seedlings the first year? How many plants does it require to
set an acre? What is generally used for shading? Has the plant or
root any enemies? When does the seed ripen? How wide do you make your
beds? Do you fertilize your soil? Will the plants bear seed the first
year? What price do plants and seed usually bring? What does the seed
It will be almost impossible to answer all of the above questions,
but will try to give a few points regarding Ginseng and Ginseng
growing which may help some reader out. In the spring of 1899 I began
experimenting with a few Ginseng plants, writes an Indiana party, and
at present have thousands of plants coming along nicely from one to
seven years old. Last fall I planted about eight pounds of new seed.
The mature roots are very profitable at present prices. They are
easily grown if one knows how. It takes about five years to grow
The seed is planted in August and September; the plants set in
September and October. A rich, dark sandy loam is the most desirable
soil for the crop, which requires shade during growth. The plants are
perennial, dying down in the fall and reappearing in the spring. The
roots must be dried for market. They should be dug some time in
October. Cultivation of the crop is comparatively simple and easy.
The crop is practically exported from this country to China, where
the roots are largely used for medicinal purposes. The best prices
are paid in New York, Chicago, Cincinnati and San Francisco. Dry
roots usually bring $4.00 to $8.00 per pound as to quality. The
drying is accomplished the same way fruit is dried. The number of
roots in a pound depends on their age and size.
The seed of Ginseng germinates in eighteen months. Sow the seed in
drill rows and set the plants about eight inches apart each way.
Mulch the beds with forest leaves in the fall. The seedlings should
be reset the first year. It requires about 100,000 plants to cover an
acre. The shade for the crop is usually furnished by the use of lath
or brush on a stationary frame built over the garden.
Moles and mice are the only enemies of Ginseng and sometimes trouble
the roots, but are usually quite easily kept out. The seed of Ginseng
ripens in August. Seed beds are usually made four feet wide. The best
fertilizer is leaf mould from the woods. The plants will not bear
much seed the first year. The price of both seed and plants varies
considerably. The seed looks like those of tomatoes, but is about ten
Ginseng is usually found growing wild in the woods where beech, sugar
and poplar grow. The illustration shows a plant with seed. Early in
the season, say June and early July, there is no stem showing seed.
The plant usually has three prongs with three large leaves and has
small ones on each stem. Note the illustration closely. Sometimes
there are four prongs, but the number of leaves on each prong is
always five--three large and two small.
The leading Ginseng states are West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.
It is also found in considerable quantities in Virginia,
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and even
north into Southern Canada. It is also found in other Central and
During the past few years the wild root has been dug very close, and
in states where two or three years ago Ginseng was fairly plentiful
is now considerably thinned out. In some sections "sengers" follow
the business of digging the wild root from June to October. They make
good wages quite often. It is these "sengers" that have destroyed the
wild crop and paved the way for the growers. The supply of wild root
will no doubt become less each year, unless prices go down so that
there will not be the profit in searching for it.
Cultivated root being larger than wild takes more care in drying.
Improper drying will materially impair the root and lessen its value.
It is those who study the soil and give attention to their fruit that
make a success of it. The same applies to growing Ginseng and other
When buying plants or seeds to start a garden it will be well to
purchase from some one in about your latitude as those grown hundreds
of miles north or south are not apt to do so well.
Ginseng culture is now carried on in nearly all states east of the
Mississippi River as well as a few west. The leading Ginseng growing
states, however, are New York, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and
Thruout the "Ginseng producing section" the plants are dug by
"sengers" from early spring until late fall. The roots are sold to
the country merchants for cash or exchanged for merchandise. The
professional digger usually keeps his "seng" until several pounds are
collected, when it is either shipped to some dealer or taken to the
county seat or some town where druggists and others make the buying
of roots part of their business. Here the digger could always get
cash for roots which was not always the case at the country store.
Quite often we hear some one say that the Chinese will one of these
days quit using Ginseng and there will be no market for it. There is
no danger, or at least no more than of our people giving up the use
of tea and coffee. Ginseng has been in constant use in China for
hundreds of years and they are not apt to forsake it now.
The majority of exporters of Ginseng to China are Chinamen who are
located in New York and one or two cities on the Pacific coast. There
is a prejudice in China against foreigners so that the Chinamen have
an advantage in exporting. Few dealers in New York or elsewhere
export--they sell to the Chinamen who export.
The making of Bordeaux Mixture is not difficult. Put 8 pounds
bluestone in an old sack or basket and suspend it in a 50-gallon
barrel of water. In another barrel of same size, slack 8 pounds of
good stone lime and fill with water. This solution will keep. When
ready to use, stir briskly and take a pail full from each barrel and
pour them at the same time into a third barrel or tub. This is
"Bordeaux Mixture." If insects are to be destroyed at the same time,
add about 4 ounces of paris green to each 50 gallons of Bordeaux.
Keep the Bordeaux well stirred and put on with a good spray pump.
Half the value in spraying is in doing it thoroughly.
It is our opinion that there will be a demand for Seneca and Ginseng
for years. The main thing for growers to keep in mind is that it is
the wild or natural flavor that is wanted. To attain this see that
the roots are treated similar to those growing wild. To do this,
prepare beds of soil from the woods where the plants grow, make shade
about as the trees in the forests shade the plants, and in the fall
see that the beds are covered with leaves. Study the nature of the
plant as it grows wild in the forest and make your "cultivated"
plants "wild" by giving them the same conditions as if they were
growing wild in the forest. As mentioned in a former number, an easy
way to grow roots is in the native forest. The one drawback is from
The above appeared as an editorial in the Hunter-Trader-Trapper,
Growing Ginseng and Golden Seal will eventually become quite an
industry, but as we have said before, those that make the greatest
success at the business, will follow as closely as possible the
conditions under which the plants grow in the forests, in their wild
state. Therein the secret lies. There is no class of people better
fitted to make a success at the business than hunters and trappers,
for they know something of its habits, especially those of the
Eastern, Central and Southern States, where the plants grow wild.
There is no better or cheaper way to engage in the business than to
start your "garden" in a forest where the plant has grown. Forests
where beech, sugar and poplar grow are usually good for Ginseng. The
natural forest shade is better than the artificial.
[Illustration: Forest Bed of Young "Seng." These Plants, However,
Are too Thick.]
This is a business that hunters and trappers can carry on to
advantage for the work on the "gardens" is principally done during
the "off" hunting and trapping season.
The writer has repeatedly cautioned those entering the business of
Ginseng culture to be careful. The growing of Ginseng has not proven
the "gold mine" that some advertisers tried to make the public
believe, but at the same time those who went at the business in a
business-like manner have accomplished good results--have been well
paid for their time. In this connection notice that those that have
dug wild root for years are the most successful. Why? Because they
are the ones whose "gardens" are generally in the forests or at least
their plants are growing under conditions similar to their wild
state. Therein the secret lies.
The majority of farmers, gardeners, etc., know that splendid sweet
potatoes are grown in the lands of the New Jersey meadows. The
potatoes are known thruout many states as "Jersey Sweets" and have a
ready sale. Suppose the same potato was grown in some swampy middle
state, would the same splendid "Jersey Sweet" be the result? Most
assuredly not. If the same kind of sandy soil which the sweet potato
thrives in in New Jersey is found the results will be nearer like the
Again we say to the would-be grower of medicinal roots or plants to
observe closely the conditions under which the roots thrive in their
wild state and cultivate likewise, that is, grow in the same kind of
soil, same density of shade, same kind and amount of mulch (leaves,
etc.) as you observe the wild plant.
The growing of medicinal plants may never be a successful industry
for the large land owner, for they are not apt to pay so much
attention to the plants as the person who owns a small place and is
engaged in fruit growing or poultry raising. The business is not one
where acres should be grown, in fact we doubt if any one will ever be
successful in growing large areas. The person who has acres of forest
land should be able to make a good income by simply starting his
"gardens in the woods." The shade is there, as well as proper mulch,
etc. In fact it is the forest where most of the valuable medicinal
plants grow of their own accord. The conditions of the soil are there
to produce the correct flavor. Some of the growers who are trying to
produce large roots quickly are having trouble in selling their
production. The dealers telling them that their roots have not the
wild natural flavor--but have indications of growing too quickly and
are probably cultivated.
While plants can be successfully cultivated by growing under
conditions similar to the forest yet if there are forest lands near,
you had better make your "gardens" there. This will save shading. In
the north, say Canada, New England and states bordering on Canada,
shading need not be so thick as farther south. In those states, if on
high land, even a south slope may be used.
In other states a northern or eastern slope is preferred, altho if
the shading is sufficiently heavy "gardens" thrive. Read what the
various growers say before you start in the business, for therein you
will find much of value. They have made mistakes and point these out
From 1892 to 1897 the writer was on the road for a Zanesville, Ohio,
firm as buyer of raw furs, hides, pelts and tallow. The territory
covered was Southern Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and
Northern Kentucky. During that time Ginseng was much more plentiful
than now. Once at Portsmouth a dealer from whom I occasionally bought
hides, had 21 sugar barrels full of dried seng--well on to 3,000
pounds. It was no uncommon thing to see lots of 100 to 500 pounds. I
did not make a business of buying seng and other roots, as it was not
handled to any great extent by the house I traveled for, altho I did
buy a few lots ranging from 5 to 100 pounds, The five years that I
traveled the territory named I should say that I called upon dealers
who handled 100,000 pounds or 20,000 annually. This represented
probably one-fifth of the collection. These dealers of course had men
Just what the collection of Ginseng in that territory is now I am
unable to say as I have not traveled the territory since 1900, but
from what the dealers and others say am inclined to think the
collection is only about 10% what it was in the early '90s.
This shows to what a remarkable extent the wild root has decreased.
The same decrease may not hold good in all sections, yet it has been
heavy and unless some method is devised the wild root will soon be a
thing of the past.
Diggers should spare the young plants. These have small roots and do
not add much in value to their collection. If the young plants were
passed by for a few years the production of the forest--the wild
plant--could be prolonged indefinitely.
A root buyer for a Charleston, W. Va., firm, who has traveled a great
deal thru the wild Ginseng sections of West Virginia, Kentucky,
Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio says: The root is secured in greatest
quantities from the states in the order named. Golden seal is
probably secured in greatest quantities from the states as follows:
West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania. A great deal
is also secured from Western States and the North.
The "sengers" start out about the middle of May, altho the root is
not at the best until August. At that time the bur is red and the
greatest strength is in the root.
Many make it a business to dig seng during the summer. Some years ago
I saw one party of campers where the women (the entire family was
along) had simply cut holes thru calico for dresses, slipping same
over the head and tied around the waist--not a needle or stitch of
thread had been used in making these garments.
Some of these "sengers" travel with horses and covered rig. These dig
most of the marketable roots. Others travel by foot carrying a bag to
put Ginseng in over one shoulder and over the other a bag in which
they have a piece of bacon and a few pounds of flour. Thus equipped
they stay out several days. The reason these men only dig Ginseng is
that the other roots are not so valuable and too heavy to carry.
Sometimes these men dig Golden Seal when near the market or about
ready to return for more supplies.
Some years ago good wages were made at digging wild roots but for the
past few years digging has been so persistent that when a digger
makes from $1.00 to $2.00 per day he thinks it is good.
Some say that the Ginseng growing business will soon be overdone and
the market over-supplied and prices will go to $1.00 per pound or
less for dried root. If all who engage in the business were able to
successfully grow the plant such might be the case. Note the many
that have failed. Several complain that their beds in the forests are
infested with many ups and downs from such causes as damp blight,
root rot, animals and insect pests. A few growers report that mice
did considerable damage in the older beds by eating the neck and buds
from the roots.
There seems to be a mistaken idea in regard to "gardens in the
forest." Many prepare their beds in the forests, plant and cultivate
much the same as the grower under artificial shade. While this is an
improvement over the artificial shade, fertilized and thickly planted
bed, it is not the way that will bring best and lasting results.
Why? Because plants crowded together will contract diseases much
sooner than when scattered. One reason of many failures is that the
plants were too thick. Those that can "grow" in the forests are going
to be the ones that make the greatest success. Farmers,
horticulturists, gardeners, trappers, hunters, guides, fishermen who
have access to forest land should carefully investigate the
possibilities of medicinal root culture.
Those who have read of the fortune to be made at growing Ginseng and
other medicinal roots in their backyard on a small plat (say a rod or
two) had best not swallow the bait. Such statements were probably
written by ignorant growers who knew no better or possibly they had
seed and plants for sale. Ginseng growing, at best, should be done by
persons who know something of plants, their habits, etc, as well as
being familiar with soil and the preparation of same for growing
In reply to E. T. Flanegan and others who wish to know how to use
Ginseng as a medicine, I will suggest this way for a general home
made use, says a writer in Special Crops. Take very dry root, break
it up with a hammer and grind it thru a coffee mill three or four
times till reduced to a fine powder. Then take three ounces of powder
and one ounce of milk sugar. To the milk sugar add sixty drops of oil
of wintergreen and mix all the powders by rubbing them together and
bottle. Dose one teaspoonful, put into a small teacupful of boiling
water. Let it stay a little short of boiling point ten minutes. Then
cool and drink it all, hot as can be borne, before each meal. It may
be filtered and the tea served with cream and sugar with the meal.
Made as directed this is a high grade and a most pleasant aromatic
tea and has a good effect on the stomach, brain and nervous system.
To those who have chronic constipation, I would advise one fourth
grain of aloin, taken every night, or just enough to control the
constipation, while taking the Ginseng tea. If the evening dose of
Ginseng be much larger it is a good safe hypnotic, producing good
The writer prefers the above treatment to all the whiskey and patent
medicine made. To those who are damaged or made nervous by drinking
coffee or tea, quit the coffee or tea and take Ginseng tea as above
directed. It is most pleasant tasted and a good medicine for your
stomach. I do not know just how the Chinese prepare it into medicine,
but I suppose much of it is used in a tea form as well as a tincture.
As it is so valuable a medicine their mode of administration has been
kept a secret for thousands of years. There must be some medical
value about it of great power or the Chinese could not pay the price
for it. It has been thought heretofore that the Chinese were a
superstitious people and Used Ginseng thru ignorance, but as we get
more light on the medical value of the plant the plainer it gets that
it is us fellows--the Americans--that have been and are yet in the
"shade" and in a dark shade, too. We think the time not far off when
it will be recognized as a medical plant and a good one, too, and its
great medical value be made known to the world.
For several years past I have been experimenting with Ginseng as a
medical agent and of late I have prescribed, or rather added it, to
the treatment of some cases of rheumatism. I remember one instance in
particular of a middle-aged man who had gone the rounds of the
neighborhood doctors and failed of relief, when he employed me. After
treating him for several weeks and failing to entirely relieve him,
more especially the distress in bowels and back, I concluded to add
Ginseng to his treatment. After using the medicine he returned,
saying the last bottle had served him so well that he wanted it
filled with the same medicine as before. I attribute the curative
properties of Ginseng in rheumatism to stimulating to healthy action
of the gastric juices; causing a healthy flow of the digestive fluids
of the stomach, thereby neutralizing the extra secretion of acid that
is carried to the nervous membranes of the body and joints, causing
the inflammatory condition incident to rheumatism.
Ginseng combined with the juices of a good ripe pineapple is par
excellent as a treatment for indigestion. It stimulates the healthy
secretion of pepsin, thereby insuring good digestion without
incurring the habit of taking pepsin or after-dinner pills to relieve
the fullness and distress so common to the American people. The above
compound prepared with good wine in the proper way will relieve many
aches and pains of a rebellious stomach; and if I should advise or
prescribe a treatment for the old "sang digger" who is troubled with
dyspepsia or foul stomach, I would tell him to take some of your own
medicine and don't be selling all to the Chinamen.
[Illustration: A Healthy Looking "Garden"--"Yard."]
I want to repeat here what I have often said to "sengers" of my
acquaintance, especially those "get-rich-quick" fellows who have been
dumping their half-grown and poorly cured Ginseng on the market,
thereby killing the good-will of the celestial for a market and
destroying the sale of those who cultivate clean and matured roots;
they had much better give their roots time to mature in their gardens
and if the market price is not what it ought to be to compensate for
the labor, they had better hold over another season before selling. I
have all the product of last season in Ginseng and Golden Seal in my
possession, for the reason that the price did not suit me. Drug
manufacturers ask $7.00 per pound for Fluid Extract Golden Seal
wholesale. When they can make from one-half pound dried root one
pound Fluid Extract Golden Seal costing them 75 cents, that's a
pretty good profit for maceration and labeling.
Ginseng has been used to some extent as a domestic medicine in the
United States for many years. As far as I can learn, the home use is
along the line of tonic and stimulant to the digestive and the
nervous system. Many people have great faith in the power of the
Ginseng root to increase the general strength and appetite as well as
to relieve eructations from the stomach. As long ago as Bigelow's
time, some wonderful effects are recorded of the use of half a root
in the increase of the general strength and the removal of fatigue.
Only the other day a young farmer told me that Ginseng tea was a good
thing to break up an acute cold and I think you will find it used for
rheumatism and skin diseases. It undoubtedly has some effect on the
circulation, perhaps thru its action on the nervous system and to
this action is probably due its ascribed anti-spasmodic properties.
The use of Ginseng has largely increased within the last few years
and several favorable reports have been published in the medical
journals. One physician, whose name and medium of publication I
cannot now recall, speaks highly of its anti-spasmodic action in
relieving certain forms of hiccough. If this is true, it places it at
once among the important and powerful anti-spasmodics and suggests
its use in other spasmodic and reflex nervous diseases as whooping
cough, asthma, etc.
I have practiced medicine for eight years. I sold my practice one
year ago and since have devoted my entire attention to the
cultivation of Ginseng and experimenting with Ginseng in diseases and
am satisfied that it is all that the Chinese claim for it; and, if
the people of the United States were educated as to its use, our
supply would be consumed in our own country and it would be a hard
blow to the medical profession.
It would make too long an article for me to enumerate the cases that
I have cured; but, I think it will suffice to say that I have cured
every case where I have used it with one exception and that was a
case of consumption in its last stages; but the lady and her husband
both told me that it was the only medicine that she took during her
illness that did her any good. The good it did her was by loosening
her cough; she could give one cough and expectorate from the lungs
without any exertion. I believe it is the best medicine for
consumption in its first stages and will probably cure.
I wish the readers of Special Crops to try it in their own
families--no difference what the disease is. Make a tea of it. A good
way is to grate it in a nutmeg grater. Grate what would make about 15
grains, or about one-fourth to one-half teaspoonful and add half a
pint or less of boiling water. The dose to be taken at meal times and
between meals. In a cold on the lungs it will cure in two or three
days, if care is taken and the patient is not exposed.
My theory is that disease comes from indigestion directly or
indirectly. Ginseng is the medicine that will regulate the digestion
and cure the disease no difference by what name it is called; if the
disease can be cured. Ginseng will cure it where no other drug will.
I will cite one case; a neighbor lady had been treated by two
different physicians for a year for a chronic cough. I gave her some
Ginseng and told her to make a tea of it and take it at meal times
and between meals; in two weeks I saw her and she told me that she
was cured and that she never took any medicine that did her so much
good, saying that it acted as a mild cathartic and made her feel
good. She keeps Ginseng in her house now all the time and takes a
dose or two when she does not feel well.
I am satisfied that wonderful cures can be made with Ginseng and am
making them myself, curing patients that doctors have given up; and
if handled properly our supply will not equal the demand at home in
course of five or six years, thus increasing the price.
* * *
At the last annual meeting of the Michigan Ginseng Association, Dr.
H. S. McMaster of Cass Co. presented a paper on the uses of this
plant, which appeared in the Michigan Farmer. He spoke in part as
"Ginseng is a mild, non-poisonous plant, well adapted to domestic as
well as professional uses. In this respect it may be classed with
such herbs as boneset, oxbalm, rhubarb and dandelion. The medicinal
qualities are known to be a mild tonic, stimulant, nervine and
stomachic. It is especially a remedy for ills incident to old age.
"Two well-known preparations made--or said to be--from Ginseng root
are on the market. One of these, called "Seng," has been for many
years on druggists' shelves. It is sometimes used for stomach
troubles and with good results. I think it is now listed by the
leading drug houses.
"Another called 'Ginseng Tone' is a more recent preparation, and is
highly spoken of as a remedy. But for home or domestic use we would
suggest the following methods of preparing this drug:
"1st. The simplest preparation and one formerly used to some extent
by the pioneers of our forest lands, is to dig, wash and eat the
green root, or to pluck and chew the green leaves. Ginseng, like
boneset, aconite and lobelia, has medicinal qualities in the leaf.
"To get the best effect, like any other medicine it should be taken
regularly from three to six times a day and in medicinal quantities.
In using the green root we would suggest as a dose a piece not larger
than one to two inches of a lead pencil, and of green leaves one to
three leaflets. These, however, would be pleasanter and better taken
in infusion with a little milk and sweetened and used as a warm drink
as other teas are.
"2nd. The next simplest form of use is the dried root carried in the
pocket, and a portion as large as a kernel of corn, well chewed, may
be taken every two or three hours. Good results come from this mode
of using, and it is well known that the Chinese use much of the root
in this way.
"3d. Make a tincture of the dried root, or leaves. The dried root
should be grated fine, then the root, fiber or leaves, separately or
together, may be put into a fruit jar and barely covered with equal
parts of alcohol and water. If the Ginseng swells, add a little more
alcohol and water to keep it covered. Screw top on to keep from
evaporating. Macerate in this way 10 to 14 days, strain off and press
all fluid out, and you have a tincture of Ginseng. The dose would be
10 to 15 drops for adults.
"Put an ounce of this tincture in a six-ounce vial, fill the vial
with a simple elixir obtained at any drug store, and you have an
elixir of Ginseng, a pleasant medicine to take. The dose is one
teaspoonful three or four times a day.
"The tincture may be combined with the extracted juice of a ripe
pineapple for digestion, or combined with other remedies for
rheumatism or other maladies.
"4th. Lastly I will mention Ginseng tea, made from the dry leaves or
blossom umbels. After the berries are gathered, select the brightest,
cleanest leaves from mature plants. Dry them slowly about the kitchen
stove in thick bunches, turning and mixing them until quite dry, then
put away in paper sacks.
"Tea from these leaves is steeped as you would ordinary teas, and may
be used with cream and sugar. It is excellent for nervous
"These home preparations are efficacious in neuralgia, rheumatism,
gout, irritation of bronchi or lungs from cold, gastro-enteric
indigestion, weak heart, cerebro-spinal and other nervous affections,
and is especially adapted to the treatment of young children as well
as the aged. Ginseng is a hypnotic, producing sleep, an anodyne,
stimulant, nerve tonic and slightly laxative."
GINSENG IN CHINA.
With the exception of tea, says the Paint, Oil and Drug Review,
Ginseng is the most celebrated plant in all the Orient. It may well
be called the "cure-all" as the Chinese have a wonderful faith in its
curative and strengthening properties, and it has been appropriately
called the "cinchona of China." It is considered to be a sovereign
cure for fevers and weaknesses of all kinds, and is, indeed, the
chief and most costly medicine of the Chinese Empire.
Ginseng is found wild in the mountain forests of eastern Asia from
Nepa to Manchuria. It once grew in Fukien, Kaighan and Shansi, but
was supplanted by the Manchuria wild root. The root is carefully
hunted for by the Manchus, who boast that the weeds of their country
are the choice drugs of the Chinese, a boast which has much
foundation in fact. Of the thirty-seven ports in China where the
imperial maritime customs are established to import Ginseng, imports
during 1905 were as follows: Shanghai, 103,802 pounds; Wuhu, 2,374;
Kiuhiang, 2,800; Hankow, American clarified, 34,800; Wenchau 9,100;
Chungking, American clarified, 6,200; Chefoo, 80,408; Canton, 75,800,
and Foochow, 15,007.
The total importation at these ports for the last four years were:
1902, 407,021 pounds; 1903, 404,000 pounds; 1904, 313,598 pounds, and
1905, 331,381 pounds. These figures, however, by no means cover all
the Ginseng entering China, as much of it comes thru the native
custom houses, which keep no tabulated data of exports and imports,
and great quantities of it are smuggled into the country, especially
over the Korean boundary line. Niuchwang is the one Chinese port
which exports native Ginseng. Its exports for the last four years
were, respectively, 228,000, 215,000, 57,000 and 160,900 pounds.
To give an accurate price for Ginseng would be impossible, so greatly
does it differ from the variety of the root offered to consumers.
Some wild roots have been known to realize their weight in gold;
while the cultivated variety can be purchased from 5 cents a pound
up. Generally speaking, the present average prices are, for the best
Ginseng, $12.00 a pound; for fair quality, $6.50, and for the
ordinary, 50 cents to $1.00. Japan sends to China the cheapest
Ginseng, a great deal of which is used to adulterate the highest
quality from Korea.
In values and quality of the root the four principal producing
countries rank as follows: Manchuria, Korea, America and Japan.
Prices often vary in accordance with the method used in clarifying
the root. Some Chinese provinces prefer it white, others reddish and
still others require it of a yellowish tinge. The Korean root is
reddish in color, due, some say, to the ferruginous soil on which it
grows, and, according to others, to a peculiar process of clarifying.
Most of the Korean product goes to southern China by way of Hongkong.
Wild Ginseng, from whatever country, always commands a better price
than the cultivated article, chiefly because of Chinese superstition,
which prefers root resembling man or some grotesque creature to that
of the regular normal roots which cultivation naturally tends to
produce. Chinese druggists, when questioned as to the real difference
between the Manchuria wild and the American cultivated Ginseng root,
admit that the difference in quality is mostly imaginary, altho there
is a real difference in the appearance of the roots.
But the Manchuria Ginseng comes from the Emperor's mother country and
from the same soil whence sprang the "god of heaven" and therefore
the Chinese regard it as infinitely more efficacious as a curative
agent than any other Ginseng could possibly be. Many assert that the
future demand for Ginseng will be a decreasing one, from the fact
that its imaginary properties of curing every disease on earth will
be dissipated in proportion to the advance of medical science. There
can be no doubt, however, that Ginseng does possess certain curative
properties and it can be safely asserted that it will require many
generations, perhaps centuries, to shake the Chinaman's faith in his
mysterious time-honored cure-all.
[Illustration: Root Resembling Human Body.]
American Ginseng, of which large quantities are annually exported to
China, is classed, as a rule, with hsiyang, that is, west ocean,
foreign or western country Ginseng. The imports of this article at
Niuchwang for 1905 amounted in value to $4,612 gold. The exports of
Manchurian Ginseng thru Niuchwang to Chinese ports for 1905
aggregated in value $180,199 gold and for 1904, $205,431 gold. Wild
Manchuria Ginseng is rare, even in Manchuria, and its estimated
valuation ranges at present from $450 to $600 gold a pound.
The total imports of Ginseng into China for 1904 aggregated 277 tons,
valued at $932,173.44 and for 1905 to 1,905 tons, valued at
$1,460,206.59. The increased valuation of the imports of last year
emphasizes the increased price of Ginseng in the Chinese market.
Hsiyang, or American Ginseng, is marketed in China largely thru
Hongkong and Shanghai foreign commission houses. Importations of the
American product are increasing in bulk with each succeeding year,
and the business gives every indication of becoming a very large one
in a short time.
* * *
In most of the booklets and articles we have seen on Ginseng, the
writers quote exorbitant figures as to what the root sells for in
China. A good many of them quote from reports received from U. S.
Consuls, who, when they give prices, reckon on Mexican dollars which
are only about half the value of ours and some of them go so far as
to quote retail prices for very small quantities of extra quality
Some of the growers and dealers in this country, therefore, imagine
that they are not paid what they should be for their stock and that
there is an enormous profit for the men who ship to China. Such is an
entirely wrong idea and can be best proven by the fact that during
the past couple of years three of the leading export houses have gone
out of business, owing to there being no money in it. We do not know
of any business conducted on as small a percentage profit as Ginseng.
Frequently prices paid in this country are in excess of the market in
This not only means a direct loss to the exporter on his goods but
also the cost of making clean (removing fibres, siftings and stems)
shrinkage, insurance and freight. Business is also conducted on
different lines from years ago. Then the buyers in China bought
readily, prices were lower and more people could afford to use it.
Today, prices are tripled and while the supply is smaller, the demand
is very much less and Chinese buyers make the exporters carry it
until they really need it, in a good many cases buying root and not
taking it for three or four months, and consequently keeping the
exporters without their money. The expense of carrying Ginseng is
also heavy owing to the high rate of interest, which is 8% and over.
The folly of depending upon U. S. Consul reports is shown in the
great difference in the figures which they send. Many of these men
have but very little knowledge of business, most of them knowing more
about politics. It is not likely that this class of men will spend
very much time in investigating a subject of this character.
The market here for wild root since June 1st has been the dullest we
have ever known and the same condition prevails in China. We are glad
to state that cultivated root is selling at much better prices than
last year. It is hard to account for the disfavor with which it was
regarded a year ago in China, and the prejudice against it has been
overcome more rapidly than we expected. At this time last year it was
almost unsalable and we were buying as low as $3.00 to $4.00 per
pound. Many houses declined to buy at all.
Now that the prejudice against it has sort of worn off, we look for a
good market and consider the outlook very favorable and would advise
people not to give up their gardens in too great a hurry. We make a
specialty of cultivated root and will be pleased to give information
as to handling, drying, etc., to any reader who desires it. We have
been buying Ginseng for over thirty years.
Belt, Butler Co. New York.
* * *
Consul-General Amos P. Wilder of Hongkong, in response to numerous
American inquiries as to the trade in Ginseng, with especial
reference to the cultivated root, prices and importations, reports as
The Ginseng business is largely in the hands of the Chinese, the
firms at Hongkong and Canton having American connections. (The five
leading Hongkong Chinese firms in the Ginseng importing business are
named by Mr. Wilder, as also the leading "European" importing
concern, and all the addresses are obtainable from the Bureau of
I am authorized to say that American growers may correspond with the
European concern direct relative to large direct shipments. They
receive goods only on consignment and have some forty years' standing
in this industry. This firm, as do the Chinese, buys in bulk and
distributes thru jobbers to the medicine shops, which abound in all
Chinese communities. The Cantonese have prestige in cleaning and
preparing the root for market.
Last year the best quality of Ginseng brought from $2,000 to $2,300
Mexican per picul (equal to 133 1/2 pounds), but selected roots have
brought $2,400 to $2,550. It is estimated here that growers should
net about $7.25 gold per pound. The buying price of Ginseng is
uncertain. There being no standard, no price can be fixed. The
American-Chinese shippers have the practice of withholding the
Ginseng to accord with the demand in China. Owing to failures among
Chinese merchants since the war and the confusion in San Francisco,
trade in this industry has been slack and prices have fallen off. If
the root is perfect and unbroken it is preferred. Much stress should
be laid on shipping clean, perfect and attractive roots. Size, weight
and appearance are factors in securing best prices, the larger and
heavier the root the better.
When the shipment arrives the importer invites jobbers to inspect the
same. The roots are imported in air-tight casks in weight of about
100 pounds. It is certain that there are many different qualities of
Ginseng and the price is difficult to fix (except on inspection in
As to wild and cultivated roots, two or three years ago when
cultivated Ginseng was new, buyers made no distinction and the price
ruled the same; but having learned of the new industry, experts here
assure me the roots can readily be distinguished. They say that the
wild root is darker in color and rougher. The wild is preferred.
Experts now allege a prejudice against the cultivated root, affirming
that the wild root has a sweeter taste. The cultivated roots being
larger and heavier, they first earned large prices, but are now at a
disadvantage, altho marketable.
[Illustration: Wild Ginseng Roots.]
The cultivated is as yet but a small percentage of the entire
importations, but is increasing. Seventy-five per cent of all
importations are in the hands of the Chinese. Small growers in
America will do best to sell to the collecting buyers in New York,
Cincinnati and other cities. Hongkong annual importations are now
about 100,000 pounds.
Too many misleading and conflicting articles have been published on
the subject of Ginseng culture in Korea, a true statement of the
facts may be of interest. We all know the Korean Ginseng always
commands a high price in China and I believe there must be a very
good reason for it. Either the Korean method of cultivation, curing
or marketing was superior to the American method or centuries of
experience in its cultivation had taught him a lesson and a secret we
had yet to learn. After considerable correspondence with parties in
Korea which gave me very little information and to set my mind at
rest on these questions, I went to Korea in 1903 for the sole purpose
of obtaining all the information possible on Ginseng culture
according to Korean methods and also if possible to secure enough
nursery stock to plant a Ginseng garden in America with the best
Strange to say, even after I reached the city of Seoul, the capital
of Korea, I could not obtain any more reliable information on Ginseng
than I already knew before I left America. They told me where the
great Ginseng district was located, that 40,000 cattys were packed
each year for export, etc., but as to the soil, planting,
cultivation, irrigation, shading, curing, packing, etc., they knew
nothing that was reliable.
All the American people use sugar in one form or another, but how
many could tell a person seeking for reliable information concerning
the planting of the cane or sugar beet, of the character of the soil
necessary, of its cultivation and irrigation, the process of
refining, packing and marketing, etc. Comparatively few, indeed, and
so it is with the Koreans on the cultivation of Ginseng. They all use
it, but, like the Chinese, not one in several thousand ever saw a
Ginseng plant growing. After considerable delay I secured a competent
interpreter, a cook, and food supplies, and started from Seoul for
the great Ginseng district, traveling part of the way by rail, then
by sampan, and finally reached my destination on Korean ponies.
Arriving at the Ginseng center, I lived among the Ginseng growers
from the time the seed crop ripened until nearly all the
five-year-old roots, or older ones, were dug up and delivered to the
government at their drying grounds, which is about four acres in
extent. This compound is enclosed on three sides by buildings from
100 to 150 feet in length and a uniform width of twelve feet and the
rest of the compound with a high stone wall with a gate, which is
closely guarded by soldiers armed with guns. Near the center of this
compound is a well where the roots are washed as soon as they are
received. There is no entrance from the outside to any of these
buildings. Every one must pass the guards at the gate, for the
buildings, together with the wall, make a complete enclosure.
The Ginseng gardens are scattered over considerable territory, most
of which is surrounded by a high stone wall about twenty or
twenty-five miles in circumference, similar to the great wall of
China, and which many years ago was the site of one of the ancient
capitals of Korea.
Part of the growers make a specialty of raising one-year-old plants,
to supply those who have sufficient means to wait four years more for
the roots to mature. Generally, speaking, the grower that produces
the commercial root raises but little if any one-year roots.
All Ginseng gardens are registered as required by law, stating how
many kan (a kan of Ginseng is the width of the bed, about 30 inches
and 5 1/2 feet long) are under cultivation, so the High Government
Official, specially appointed for the Ginseng district, always knows
how many roots should be available at harvest time and every grower
must sell his entire crop that is five years old or over to the
government and his responsibility does not cease until he has
delivered his crop at the government drying grounds.
His roots are then carefully selected and all that do not come up to
a required size are rejected and delivered back to the grower and
these he can either dry for his own use or he can transplant them and
perhaps next year they will come up to the required standard. The
Koreans pay great attention to the selection of their Ginseng seed.
No plant is allowed to bear seed that is less than four years old and
very little seed is used from four-year plants. Nearly all the seed
comes from five-year-old plants and a little from six-year-old. Only
the best and strongest appearing plants are allowed to bear seed, and
even these very sparingly, as part of the seed head is picked off
while in the blossom and from which they make a highly prized tea.
The seed stem of all other plants are pinched off, forcing all the
strength, as well as medicinal properties, into the root.
Many of the best growers never allow their plants to bear seed, and
only the required amount of seed is raised each year to supply the
demand. After the seed is gathered, it is graded by passing it thru a
screen of a certain size. This grader is made like an old-fashioned
flour sieve, only the bottom is made of a heavy oil paper with round
holes cut in it, and all seed that will pass thru these holes are
destroyed, so only the largest and best seed are kept for planting.
The soil which they use for their Ginseng garden is a very poor
disintegrate granite, to which has been added leaf mould mostly from
the chestnut oak, in the proportion of three-eighths leaf mould to
five-eighths granite. The leaves are gathered in the spring and
summer, dried in the sun, pulverized and sprinkled with water to help
decomposition. This is the only fertilizer used. The beds are raised
about eight inches above the level of the ground and are carefully
edged with slabs of slate. What is called a holing board is used to
mark the places for the seed. It is made of a board as long as the
beds are wide (about thirty inches) and has three rows of pegs
1/2-inch long and 1 1/2 inches apart each way.
A seed is planted in each hole and covered by pressing the soil down
with the hands. About 1/4-inch of prepared soil is added to the bed
and smoothed over. No other mulch is used. The roots are transplanted
each year, setting them a little farther apart each time, until at
the third transplanting, or at four years old, they are 6x6 inches
apart, and at each transplanting the amount of leaf mould used in the
prepared soil is reduced. (Note the difference between this and the
American method of heavy fertilizing). Only germinated seed is
planted and the time for planting is regulated by the Korean Calendar
and not by the weather and if at that time it is at all cold, the
beds are immediately covered with one or two thickness of rice straw
thatch and as soon as the weather is suitable this thatch is removed
and the shade erected. Each bed is shaded separately by setting a row
of small posts in the ground 4 feet high and 5 1/2 feet or 1 kan
apart, on the north side of each bed and on the south side a similar
row, only about 1 foot high. Bamboo poles are securely lashed to
these posts and they in turn support the cross pieces on which rests
the roof covering, made of reeds woven together with a very small
straw rope. At the time of the summer solstice, the rainy season
comes on, so a thick covering of thatch is spread over the reed
covering, which sheds the rain into the walks, while the back and
front are enclosed with rush blinds, that on the north side being
raised or lowered according to the temperature. If it is a very hot
day the blinds are lowered from about 10 A. M. to 4 P. M., leaving
the beds in almost darkness.
The beds are all protected from the rain and are irrigated by
sprinkling them when needed. At the close of the growing season,
after the roots have gone dormant, all that are not dug up are
covered with a layer of soil 7 or 8 inches thick. All the shade is
pulled down except the posts and spread over the soil and the garden
is left thus for the winter, and the grower selects another site to
which he can move his plants in the spring, and each year new soil is
prepared. From the time the roots are two years old there is another
added care. They are now worth stealing, consequently the garden has
to be watched day and night. A watch tower about 16 feet high is
erected and the hands take turn about, occupying it as a sentry.
Another man constantly patrols the garden during the night.
The Koreans are the largest consumers of Ginseng in the world, in
proportion to their population, and they have carefully cultivated it
for centuries with the one particular object in view, "its medicinal
properties." For quality always, rather than quantity. They sacrifice
everything else for a powerful medicinal root, and they surely grow
it. I have seen some remarkable results from its use during my stay
in Korea. Say what we may about it, but it plays a very important
part in the life of both the Korean and the Chinese people. Do you
wonder now that the Korean Ginseng always commands a high price? If
the American growers had followed closer along the lines of the
Korean growers and aimed for a high grade of medicinal root, the
market for American Ginseng would not be where it is today. That is,
the cultivated Ginseng. The American growers have it in their own
hands to either make a success or failure of Ginseng culture, but one
thing is certain, heavy seed bearing, excessive fertilizing and rapid
drying will never produce a high standard of Ginseng. The principal
market of the world is ours if we only reach out for it with that
high standard and maintain it and especially so if we will unite
together and market our product thru one central agency controlled by
the producers. Mr. Chinaman may sometimes be mistaken as to whether
Ginseng is wild or cultivated. He may also be mistaken as to whether
it comes from Korea or China (I have seen him make this mistake), but
let him once sample a liberal dose of it, and he won't make any
mistake as to whether it is good, medium or bad.
* * *
The Ginseng Trade.
The following article by Mr. Burnett appeared in the Minneapolis
Journal last February and shows what dealers think of the Ginseng
I wish you would give room for what I have to say in regard to an
article in your Journal last fall by our ex-Consul, John Goodnow.
Some things he says are correct: That the demand is based entirely on
superstition; that the root has life-giving qualities; and that those
having the nearest resemblance to human beings are most valuable.
That is quite true. I have seen the Chinese exporters' eyes dance
when they saw such roots in a lot.
Now for the errors in what he said. He says the trade is in the hands
of a syndicate and they only handle Korean Ginseng. Possibly this
syndicate tells the Chinese retail merchants that to keep them from
boycotting our American Ginseng. If so, why is it that the wild root
this fall has been at ready sale at $6.75 to $7.10 per pound? We, who
buy it, do not hold it and if we did not find a ready sale for it we
would soon cease to buy it.
There has been marketed in Minneapolis probably $50,000 worth this
year and in the United States a million dollars' worth. So you see
his error: for, either directly or indirectly, it gets to China at
Now in regard to the cultivated root, to show your readers how the
value is based on superstition, we will cite one instance in our
experience. We sent our clerk to a laundry where there were a half
dozen "Celestials" to sell some nice cultivated root. Some roots were
manlike in shape. They tasted it, were delighted with it and bought
it readily and told him to bring them all he could get, as what they
did not need for their own use they would ship to their exporter in
Our man told them he would be around in one week. We sent him again
in just a week. He said on his return they "looked daggers" at him
and said, "We no wantee your cultivated root." This convinced us they
had shipped it to the agents of the syndicate at 'Frisco and received
their returns. Now, does this not show that the demand is all based
on superstition? It was very good until they were informed that it
Now your readers may say, how can they distinguish between the
cultivated and the wild? I will tell you; the cultivated is usually
much firmer and twice as heavy as the wild and generally much
cleaner. Then most of the cultivated has been raised from small, wild
roots dug from the forests and in transplanting they have not taken
pains to place the tap root straight in the earth. This causes it to
be clumpy--that is, not straight like most wild roots. This, with its
solidity and cleanliness makes it easy to tell from the wild roots.
[Illustration: Pennsylvania Grower's Garden.]
The Cultivated Plant.
Now we have had a number of lots of cultivated that we got full
prices for. They were roots grown from seeds, symmetrical in shape,
not too large, not too clean and dug before they became very solid.
My idea is, if not allowed to grow more than as large as one's
fingers, when dry and dug immediately after the seeds are ripe, or
even before, if seeds are not needed, and not washed too clean, we
can find sale for such. At present the ordinary cultivated does not
bring quite half the price of the wild. There are some who buy that
for American use, several firms putting up Ginseng cures. Some
people, like the Chinese, believe it has merits, but as the demand is
limited the price is low. That the Chinese think that the root grown
by nature has life-giving qualities and that cultivated has no
virtues, is certain. The only way to do is to grow in natural woods
soil (manure of any kind must be avoided, as it causes a rank growth)
dig and wash it so they can't tell the difference. One thing is
certain, it's a hardy plant, altho slow to get started, and good
money can be made at $2.00 to $3.00 a pound. Instead of being hard to
grow, as many persons think, it is very hard to kill.
* * *
A belief among the Chinese people is that Ginseng roots, especially
if of peculiar shape, will cure practically all diseases of mind and
body. The Chinese are not given to sentiment; their emotional nature
is not highly developed; they are said to be a people who neither
"kiss nor cuss," and their physical sensibilities are so dull that a
Chinaman can lie down on his back across his wheelbarrow with feet
and head hanging to the ground, his mouth wide open and full of flies
and sleep blissfully for hours under the hottest July sun. There is
nothing about them, therefore, to suggest that they possess the
lively imagination to make them have faith in a remedy with purely
imaginary virtues. Nevertheless, among these people, a plant not
found by any medical scientist to possess any curative powers is used
almost universally, to cure every kind of ailment and has been so
used for generations.
Intelligent Chinese resent the imputation of superstition to their
people. But the fact remains that the Ginseng roots are valued
according to the peculiarity of their shapes. The word Ginseng is
composed of two Chinese words which mean man and plant, and the more
nearly shaped like a man the roots are, the more they are valued. A
root which is bifurcated and otherwise shaped like a man, may be sold
as high as $10.00 an ounce; a recent secretary of the Chinese
Legation explains this on the ground of being valued as a curio; but
the curio is finally made into a decoction and swallowed, and the
swallower evidently hopes that the fantastic shape of the root will
make the medicine more potent.
GINSENG--GOVERNMENT DESCRIPTION, ETC.
The following is from a bulletin issued by the U. S. Department of
Agriculture--Bureau of Plant Industry--and edited by Alice Henkel:
Panax Quinquefolium L.
Other Common Names--American Ginseng, sang, red-berry, five-fingers.
Habitat and Range--Ginseng is a native of this country, its favorite
haunts being the rich, moist soil in hardwood forests from Maine to
Minnesota southward to the mountains of northern Georgia and
Arkansas. For some years Ginseng has been cultivated in small areas
from central New York to Missouri.
Description of Plant--Ginseng is an erect perennial plant growing
from 8 to 15 inches in height and bearing three leaves at the summit,
each leaf consisting of five thin, stalked ovate leaflets, long
pointed at the apex, rounded or narrow at the base, the margins
toothed; the three upper leaflets are largest and the two lower ones
smaller. From 6 to 20 greenish yellow flowers are produced in a
cluster during July and August, followed later in the season by
bright crimson berries. It belongs to the Ginseng family
Description of Root--Ginseng has a thick, spindle-shaped root, 2 to 3
inches long or more, and about one-half to 1 inch in thickness, often
branched, the outside prominently marked with circles or wrinkles.
The spindle-shaped root is simple at first, but after the second year
it usually becomes forked or branched, and it is the branched root,
especially if it resembles the human form, that finds particular
favor in the eyes of the Chinese, who are the principal consumers of
[Illustration: Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolium).]
Ginseng root has a thick, pale yellow white or brownish yellow bark,
prominently marked with transverse wrinkles, the whole root fleshy
and somewhat flexible. If properly dried, it is solid and firm.
Ginseng has a slight aromatic odor, and the taste is sweetish and
Collection and Uses--The proper time for digging Ginseng root is in
autumn, and it should be carefully washed, sorted and dried. If
collected at any other season of the year, it will shrink more and
not have the fine, plump appearance of the fall dug root.
The National Dispensatory contains an interesting item concerning the
collection of the root by the Indians. They gather the root only
after the fruit has ripened, and it is said that they bend down the
stem of ripened fruit before digging the root, covering the fruit
with earth, and thus providing for future propagation. The Indians
claim that a large percentage of the seeds treated in this way will
Altho once official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, from 1840 to
1880, it is but little used medicinally in this country except by the
Chinese residents, most of the Ginseng produced in this country being
exported to China. The Chinese regard Ginseng root as a panacea. It
is on account of its commercial prominence that it is included in
Cultivation--There is probably no plant that has become better known,
at least by name, during the past ten years or more than Ginseng. It
has been heralded from north to south and east to west as a
money-making crop. The prospective Ginseng grower must not fail to
bear in mind, however, that financial returns are by no means
immediate. Special conditions and unusual care are required in
Ginseng cultivation, diseases must be contended with, and a long
period of waiting is in store for him before he can realize on his
Either roots or seeds may be planted, and the best success with
Ginseng is obtained by following as closely as possible the
conditions of its native habitat. Ginseng needs a deep, rich soil,
and being a plant accustomed to the shade of forest trees, will
require shade, which can be supplied by the erection of lath sheds
over the beds. A heavy mulch of leaves or similar well rotted
vegetable material should be applied to the beds in autumn.
If roots are planted, they are set in rows about 8 inches apart and 8
inches apart in the row. In this way a marketable product will be
obtained sooner than if grown from seed. The seed is sown in spring
or autumn in drills 6 inches apart and about 2 inches apart in the
row. The plants remain in the seed bed for two years and are then
transplanted, being set about 8 by 8 inches apart. It requires from
five to seven years to obtain a marketable crop from the seed. Seed
intended for sowing should not be allowed to dry out, as this is
supposed to destroy its vitality.
Price--The price of wild Ginseng roots ranges from $5.00 a pound
upward. The cultivated root generally brings a lower price than the
wild root, and southern Ginseng roots are worth less than those from
Exports--The exports of Ginseng for the year ended June 30, 1906,
amounted to 160,949 pounds, valued at $1,175,844.
MICHIGAN MINT FARM.
Very few people know that the largest Mint farm in the world is owned
and operated by an unassuming Michigan man named A. M. Todd, says
Special Crops. His career is interesting. Born on a farm near St.
Joseph, Mich., he early developed an idea that money was to be made
in the growing of Peppermint. At that time the Mint oil industry was
small and in a state of crudeness in America, for Europe was supposed
to be the stronghold of the industry. To Europe went Mr. Todd to see
about it. He returned filled with plans and enthusiasm.
Some Details of the Business.
The details are long, but the main facts can be briefly told.
Eventually, while still a very young man, Mr. Todd purchased 1,400
acres of wild, swampy land in Allegan County, Mich. The purchase
price was $25,000. He proceeded to hire a force of men to clear and
ditch the new Mint farm. That was 20 or more years ago.
Now, let us take a look at that farm as it is today. First we come to
the main farm, called Campania, and comprising just 1,640 acres. Here
are huge barns, comfortable houses for employer and employees,
warehouses, ice houses, windmills, library, club rooms and bathrooms
for use of employes; 17 miles of wide, deep, open drainage ditches;
stills for distilling Peppermint oil; roadways, telephones and all
the system and comfort of a little village founded and maintained by
one thoughtful man.
Not far away is a second farm, recently purchased where somewhat
similar improvements are now going on. This farm is named Mentha, and
consists of 2,000 acres.
Then, farther north, a third farm completes the Todd domain. This
place contains 7,000 acres and is known as Sylvania Range. The three
farms, with a total acreage of 10,640 acres, are under one management
and they form together the largest Mint farm in all the world.
Starting with $100.00 capital, Mr. Todd's plant today is worth
several hundred thousand dollars.
Distiller as Well as Grower.
But Mr. Todd is more than a Mint grower. With his distilleries he
turns the crop into crude Peppermint oil; with his refineries he
turns the crude oil into the refined products that find a ready
market in the form of menthol, or as a flavoring essence for drinks,
confectionery and chewing gum, or for use in medicine. Furthermore,
he has been shrewd enough to figure out a method of utilizing,
profitably, the by-products of the business, Mint hay. In other
words, after the oil is extracted from a mass of Mint plants in a
distillery vat, the resulting cake of leaves and stems is dried and
fed to cattle. And, oddly enough, the animals greatly relish it and
thrive upon it.
Raises Shorthorns on Mint Hay.
During the summer Mr. Todd has 500 Shorthorns grazing on his
7000-acre range, where they require no human attention during the
season when his men are busy planting, cultivating and harvesting the
first crop. Later, these same Shorthorns are driven from pasture to
the big Campania barns, where the men care for them and feed them
Mint hay from Mr. Todd's distilleries at a season when such workmen
have little else to do. In this way the by-product is utilized and
the regular force of men is kept employed all the year around.
The growing of Mint is simple, yet there are some peculiar features
about it. For instance, the land is so shaky at some seasons of the
year that horses can not work on it unless they wear special, broad
wooden shoes. This Mint soil, indeed, is something like the muck
found in typical celery fields, being black, damp and loose. But it
is less firm and more damp than the celery land at Kalamazoo.
Setting New Mint Fields.
The Mint root is perennial. Once in two or three years, however, the
fields are renewed to improve the crop. When setting a new field the
land is plowed and harrowed in the usual way. It is then marked out
in shallow furrows into which the sets are evenly dropped by skilled
planters who cover each dropped root by shoveling dirt over it with
the foot. The rows are about 2 1/2 feet apart and the planting is
done in early spring. The sets are obtained by digging up and
separating the runners and roots from old plants.
The planted rows soon send up shoots above ground and the new plants
rapidly run or spread, necessitating hoeing and cultivating only
until late July, at which time the field should be densely covered
with a rank growth of waving green plants that forbid further
Harvesting the Mint.
In August or September the field is mowed, raked and bunched; in
fact, handled quite similarly to a clover hay field. After allowing
the plants to dry a short time, the crop is loaded onto hay wagons
and carted to the stills, where the essential oil is extracted by
means of a system of steam distillation.
The second year's crop is obtained by the simple method of plowing
under the plants in the fall. The roots send up new shoots next
season, while weeds are temporarily discouraged. No cultivation is
attempted the second year, altho the hand pulling of weeds may
sometimes prove desirable.
We think the growing of Mint should not be attempted except on a
large scale. We have had many queries touching the plant and manner
of cultivation that we have taken this means to answer them. In
boyhood days we were well acquainted with this industry in all its
branches and can not advise the average Ginseng grower to undertake
its culture for the reason that there is not money enough in it to be
profitable on small areas of land.
Remember, unless thoroughly dried roots, herbs, leaves, barks,
flowers and seeds are apt to heat or mold which greatly lessens their
value. If badly molded they are of little value.
The best time to collect barks is in the spring (when the sap is up)
as it will peel easier at that time. Some barks must be rossed, that
is, remove the outer or rough woody part. In this class are such
barks as white pine, wild cherry, etc.
Leaves and herbs should only be gathered when the plant is
mature-grown. In curing they should be kept from the sun as too rapid
curing tends to draw the natural color and this should be preserved
as much as possible.
Flowers should be gathered in the "height of bloom," for best
results. They require considerable attention to preserve as they are
apt to turn dark or mold.
The time to gather seeds is when they are ripe. This can easily be
determined by the leaves on the plant, vine or shrub which produced
the seeds. Generally speaking, seeds are not ripe until early fall,
altho some are.
There has been a heavy demand for years for wild cherry bark,
sassafras bark, black haw bark, prickly ash bark, slippery elm bark,
cotton root bark as well as scullcap plants, (herbs) lobelia herb,
golden thread herb and red clover tops.
There has been a cash market for years for the following roots:
Blood, senega, golden seal, poke, pink, wild ginger, star, lady
slipper, black, mandrake, blue flag and queen's delight.
If you have a few pounds of Ginseng or Golden Seal, pack carefully in
a light box and ship by express. If less than four pounds, you can
send by mail--postage is only one cent an ounce. A four-pound package
by mail can be sent anywhere in America for 64 cents. Expressage,
unless short distances, is apt to be more.
[Illustration: Lady Slipper.]
In shipping roots, herbs, leaves, seeds, etc., where the value is
only a few cents per pound it is best to collect 50 pounds or more
before making a shipment. In fact, 100 pounds by freight costs no
more than 10, 20, 50 or any amount less than 100 as 100 pounds is the
Some of the biggest liars in America seem to be connected with the
"seng" growing business. They probably have seed or plants to sell.
Be careful in buying--there are many rascals in the business.
There is always a cash market for Ginseng and Golden Seal. In the
large cities like New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis,
Montreal, Cincinnati, etc., are dealers who make a special business
of buying these roots. In hundreds of smaller cities and towns
druggists, merchants, raw fur dealers, etc., buy them also. The
roots, barks, leaves, etc., of less value are also bought pretty
generally by the above dealers, but if you are unable to find a
market for them it will pay you to send 10 cents for copy of
Hunter-Trader-Trapper, Columbus, Ohio, which contains a large number
of root buyers' advertisements as well as several who want bark,
leaves, seeds, flowers, herbs, etc.
Since 1858 Ginseng has increased in value one thousand four hundred
per cent., but Golden Seal has increased in value in the same time
two thousand four hundred per cent.
Ginseng and Golden Seal should be packed tightly--light but strong
boxes and shipped by express. The less valuable roots can be shipped
in burlap sacks, boxes, barrels, etc., by freight.
The various roots, barks, leaves, plants, etc., as described in this
book are found thruout America. Of course there is no state where all
grow wild, but there are many sections where several do. After
reading this book carefully you will no doubt be able to distinguish
those of value.
Plants are of three classes--annuals, biennials, perennials. Annuals
grow from seed to maturity in one year and die; biennials do not
flower or produce seed the first year, but do the second and die;
perennials are plants which live more than two years. Ginseng plants
Roots, leaves, barks, etc., should be spread out thin in some dry,
shady place. A barn floor or loft in some shed is a good place,
providing it is light and "airy," altho the direct sunlight should
not shine upon the articles being "cured." Watch while curing and
turn or stir each day.
Prices given for roots, plants, leaves, etc., were those paid by
dealers during 1907 unless otherwise specified. These prices, of
course, were paid in the leading markets for fair sized lots. If you
have only a few pounds or sold at some local market the price
received was probably much less. The demand for the various articles
varies and, of course, this influences prices--when an article is in
demand prices are best.
After studying the "habitat and range" of the various plants as
published together with the illustrations, there should be no
difficulty in determining the various plants. By "habitat" is meant
the natural abode, character of soil, etc., in which the plant
thrives best and is found growing wild. To illustrate: Seneca
Snakeroot--habitat and range--rocky woods and hillsides are its
favorite haunts. It is found in such places from New Brunswick,
Canada and Western New England States to Minnesota and the Canadian
Rocky Mountains, and south along the Allegheny Mountains to North
Carolina and Missouri.
From this it will be seen that it is useless to look for this plant
in the Southern States, on the plains or in old cultivated fields,
for such places are not its natural home.
GOLDEN SEAL CULTIVATION.
I learned when a boy, by actual experience, that Golden Seal and
Ginseng will not grow in open cultivated fields or gardens. I tried
it faithfully. The soil must be virgin, or made practically so by the
application of actual "new land" in such quantities that to prepare
an acre for the proper growth of these plants would be almost
impossible. And to furnish and keep in repair artificial shade for,
say, an acre, would cost quite a little fortune. Of course one may
cultivate a few hundred or few thousand in artificially prepared beds
and shaded by artificial means, but to raise these plants
successfully in anything like large quantities we must let nature
herself prepare the beds and the shade.
When we follow nature closely we will not be troubled with diseases,
such as blight and fungus. I know this by actual experience dear, and
therefore dear to me.
Plants propagate themselves naturally by seedage, root suckers, and
by root formation upon the tips of pendulous boughs coming in contact
with the ground. Man propagates them artificially in various ways, as
by layering, cuttings, grafting or budding, in all of which he must
follow nature. The Golden Seal plant is readily propagated by any of
the three following methods: (1) by seed; (2) by division of the
large roots; (3) by suckers, or small plants which form on the large
The seed berries should be gathered as soon as ripe, and mashed into
a pulp, and left alone a day or two in a vessel, then washed out
carefully and the seed stored in boxes of sandy loam on layers of
rock moss, the moss turned bottom side up and the seed scattered
thickly over it, then cover with about one-half inch of sandy loam,
then place another layer of moss and seed, until you have four or
five layers in a box. The box may be of any convenient size. The
bottom of the box should be perforated with auger holes to secure
good drainage. If water be allowed to stand upon the seeds they will
not germinate, neither will they germinate if they become dry. The
seeds should be kept moist but not wet. They may be sown in the fall,
but, I think the better way, by far, is to keep your box of seeds in
a cellar where they will not freeze until the latter part of winter
or very early spring. If your seeds have been properly stratified and
properly kept you will find by the middle of January that each little
black seed has burst open and is wearing a beautiful shining golden
vest. In fact, it is beginning to germinate, and the sooner it is put
into the seed-bed the better. If left too long in the box you will
find, to your displeasure, a mass of tangled golden thread-like
rootlets and leaflets, a total loss.
To prepare a seed-bed, simply rake off the forest leaves from a spot
of ground where the soil is rich and loamy, then with your rake make
a shallow bed, scatter the seeds over it, broadcast, being careful
not to sow them too thick. Firm the earth upon them with the back of
the hoe or tramp them with the feet. This bed should not be near a
large tree of any kind, and should be protected from the sun,
especially from noon to 3 P. M.
The Golden Seal seedling has two round seed leaves upon long stems
during the first season of its growth. These seed leaves do not
resemble the leaves of the Golden Seal plant. The second and usually
the third years the plant has one leaf. These seedlings may be set in
rows in beds for cultivation in the early spring of the second or
third year. This plant grows very slowly from seed for the first two
or three years, after which the growth is more satisfactory.
By the second method, i. e., by division of the large roots, simply
cut the roots up into pieces about one-fourth inch long and stratify
in the same way as recommended for seeds, and by spring each piece
will have developed a bud, and will be ready to transplant into beds
for cultivation. This is a very satisfactory and a very successful
method of propagating this plant. The plants grow off strong and
robust from the start and soon become seed bearing.
[Illustration: Young Golden Seal Plant in Bloom.]
By the third method we simply let nature do the work. If the plants
are growing in rich, loose, loamy soil, so the fibrous roots may
easily run in every direction, the whole bed will soon be thickly set
with plants. These may be taken up and transplanted or may be allowed
to grow and develop where they are.
This is the method by which I propagate nearly all of my plants. It
is a natural way and the easiest of the three ways to practice.
As to the proper soil and location for a Golden Seal garden I would
recommend a northern or northeastern exposure. The soil should be
well drained and capable of a thrifty growth of deciduous trees. It
should contain an ample supply of humus made of leaf mold. It will
then be naturally loose and adapted to the growth of Golden Seal. Cut
out all undergrowth and leave for shade trees that will grow into
value. I am growing locust trees for posts in my Golden Seal garden.
I do not think fruit trees of any kind suitable for this purpose.
In preparing the ground for planting simply dig a trench with a
mattock where you intend to set a row. This loosens up the soil and
makes the setting easy. Set the plants in this row four to six inches
apart. For convenience I make the rows up and down the hill. In
setting spread the fibrous roots out each way from the large main
root and cover with loose soil about one to two inches deep, firming
the soil around the plant with the hands. Be very careful not to put
the fibrous roots in a wad down in a hole. They do not grow that way.
Plants may be set any time through the summer, spring or fall, if the
weather he not too dry. The tops will sometimes die down, in which
case the root will generally send up a new top in a few days. If it
does not it will form a bud and prepare for growth the next spring.
The root seldom if ever dies from transplanting. I know of no plant
that is surer to grow when transplanted than Golden Seal. I make the
rows one foot to fifteen inches apart. It does not matter as it will
soon fill the spaces with sucker plants any way.
The cultivation of Golden Seal is very simple. If you have a deep,
loose soil filled with the necessary humus your work will be to rid
the plot of weeds, and each fall add to the fall of forest leaves a
mulch of rotten leaves.
Do not set the plants deeper than they grew in a natural state, say
about 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Spread the fibrous roots out in all directions
and cover with leaf mold or some fine, loamy new soil. Water if the
ground be at all dry. Then mulch with old forest leaves that have
begun to decay. Let the mulch be about three or four inches deep and
held on by a few light brush. The wind would blow the leaves away if
not thus held in place. Be careful, however, not to press the leaves
down with weights.
[Illustration: Golden Seal Plants.]
Remove the brush in the early spring, but let the leaves remain. The
plants will come up thru them all right. This plant grows best in a
soil made up entirely of decayed vegetation, such as old leaf beds
and where old logs have rotted and fallen back to earth. If weeds or
grass begin to grow in your beds pull them up before they get a
start. Be careful to do this. Do not hoe or dig up the soil any way,
The fibrous roots spread out in all directions just under the mulch.
To dig this up would very much injure the plants.
I think the plants should be set in rows about one foot apart, and
the plants three or four inches apart in the rows. This would require
about 1,000 plants to set one square rod. My Golden Seal garden is in
a grove of young locust trees that are rapidly growing into posts and
cash. The leaves drop down upon my Golden Seal and mulch it
sufficiently. The locust belongs to the Leguminous family of plants,
so while the leaves furnish the necessary shade they drink in the
nitrogen from the atmosphere and deposit great stores of it in the
soil. This makes the soil porous and loose and gives the plant a very
healthy dark green appearance.
We have only to follow the natural manner of the growth of the Golden
Seal to be successful in its culture. Select a piece of sloping land,
so as to be well drained, on the north or northeast side of the
hill--virgin soil if possible. Let the soil be rich and loamy, full
of leaf mold and covered with rotting leaves and vegetation. This is
the sort of soil that Golden Seal grows in, naturally.
It is hard to fix up a piece of ground, artificially, as nature
prepares it, for a wild plant to grow in. So select a piece if
possible that nature has prepared for you. Do not clear your land.
Only cut away the larger timber. Leave the smaller stuff to grow and
shade your plants. There is no shade that will equal a natural one
for Ginseng or Golden Seal.
Now, take a garden line and stretch it up and down the hill the
distance you want your bed to be wide. Mark the place for the row
along the line with a mattock, and dig up the soil to loosen it, so
as to set the plants, or, rather, plant the roots easily. With a
garden dibble, or some other like tool make a place for each plant.
Set the plants 4 to 6 inches apart in the row. The crown of the plant
or bud should be set about 1 inch beneath the surface.
Firm the earth around the plant carefully. This is an important point
and should be observed in setting any plant. More plants are lost
each year by carelessly leaving the earth loose over and around the
roots than from any other cause. Do not leave a trench in the row.
This may start a wash. Let the rows be about 1 foot apart. If land is
no item to you, the rows may be further apart. They will, if properly
cared for, in a few years, by sending up sprouts from the roots, fill
up the end completely.
[Illustration: Thrifty Golden Seal Plant.]
When you have finished setting your bed, cover it with a good mulch
of rotten leaves from the forest and throw upon them some brush to
keep the wind from blowing them away. By spring the leaves will
settle down compactly and you will be pleased to see your plants grow
luxuriously. October and November are the best months of the year in
which to set Golden Seal plants. They are, also, the months in which
it should be dug for the market. It may be set in the spring if the
plants are near by. The roots will always grow if not allowed to dry
If your bed does not supply you with plants fast enough by suckering,
you may propagate plants by cutting the roots into pieces about
one-fourth inch long, leaving as many fibrous roots on each piece as
possible. These cuttings should be made in September or October and
placed in boxes of sand over winter. The boxes should be kept in a
cellar where they will not freeze. By spring these pieces will have
developed a bud and be ready for transplanting, which should be done
just as early as the frost leaves the ground so it can be worked.
All the culture needed by this plant is to mulch the beds with forest
leaves each fall and keep it clear of grass and field weeds. Wild
weeds do not seem to injure it.
Golden Seal transplants easily and responds readily to proper
cultivation. There is no witchcraft in it. The seeds ripen in a large
red berry in July to germinate, if planted at once, the next spring.
The fibrous roots, if stratified in sand loam in the autumn, will
produce fine plants. Any good, fresh, loamy soil, that is partially
shaded will produce a good Golden Seal.
You want soil that is in good tilth, full of humus and life, and free
from grasses and weeds. It will stand a great deal more sunlight than
Ginseng. It will also produce a crop of marketable roots much quicker
than Ginseng. There is no danger of an over supplied market, as the
whims of a nation changing, or of a boycott of a jealous people. I
have my little patch of Golden Seal that I am watching and with which
I am experimenting.
I want to say right here that you do not need a large capital to
begin the culture of these plants that are today being exploited by
different parties for cultivation. Just get a little plot of virgin
soil, say six yards long by one yard wide and divide it into two
equal lots. Then secure from the woods or from some one who has stock
to sell about 100 plants of each, then cultivate or care for your
apron garden and increase your plantation from your beds as you
increase in wisdom and in the knowledge of the culture of these
The Bible says "Despise not the day of small things." Do not, for
your own sake, invest a lot of money in a "Seng" or Seal plantation
or take stock in any exploiter's scheme to get rich quick by the
culture of these plants. Some one has written a book entitled
"Farming by Inches." It is a good book and should be in every
gardener's library. Now, if there be any crops that will pay a big
dividend on the investment farmed by inches "Seng" and Seal are the
GOLDEN SEAL, HISTORY, ETC.
The increasing use of Golden Seal in medicine has resulted in a wide
demand for information about the plant, its identification,
geographical distribution, the conditions under which it grows,
methods of collecting and preparing the rhizomes, relations of supply
and demand, and the possibilities of its cultivation. This paper with
the exception of the part relating to cultivation was prepared (under
the direction of Dr. Rodney H. True, Physiologist in Charge of Drug
and Medicinal Plant Investigations) by Miss Alice Henkel, Assistant
in Drug and Medicinal Plant Investigations; and Mr. G. Fred Klugh,
Scientific Assistant in the same office, in charge of Cultural
Experiments in the Testing Gardens, furnished the part treating of
the cultivation of this plant. In the preparation of this paper,
which was undertaken to meet the demand for information relative to
Golden Seal, now fast disappearing from our forests, many facts have
been obtained from Lloyd's Drugs and Medicines of North America.
Lyster H. Dewey, Acting Botanist.
Office of Botanical Investigations and Experiments,
Washington, D. C, Sept. 7, 1904.
As in the case of many other native medicinal plants, the early
settlers learned of the virtues of Golden Seal thru the American
Indians, who used the root as a medicine and the yellow juice as a
stain for their faces and a dye for their clothing.
The Indians regarded Golden Seal as a specific for sore and inflamed
eyes and it was a very popular remedy with pioneers of Ohio and
Kentucky for this affliction, as also for sore mouth, the root being
chewed for the relief of the last named trouble.
Barton in his "Collection for an Essay towards a Materia Medica of
the United States," 1804, speaks of the use of a spiritual infusion
of the root of Golden Seal as a tonic bitters in the western part of
Pennsylvania and the employment of an infusion of the root in cold
water as a wash for inflammation of the eyes.
According to Dr. C. S. Rafinesque, in his Medical Flora in 1829, the
Indians also employed the juice or infusion for many "external
complaints, as a topic tonic" and that "some Indians employ it as a
diuretic stimulant and escharotic, using the powder for blistering
and the infusion for the dropsy."
He states further that "internally it is used as a bitter tonic, in
infusion or tincture, in disorders of the stomach, the liver," etc.
It was not until the demand was created for Golden Seal by the
eclectic school of practitioners, about 1747, that it became an
article of commerce, and in 1860 the root was made official in the
Pharmacopoeia of the United States, which place it has held to the
Habitat and Range.
Golden Seal occurs in patches in high open woods where there is
plenty of leaf mold, and usually on hillsides or bluffs affording
nature drainage, but it is not found in very moist or swampy
situations, in prairie land, or in sterile soil. It is native from
southern New York to Minnesota and western Ontario, south to Georgia
and Missouri, ascending to an altitude of 2,500 feet in Virginia. It
is now becoming scarce thruout its range. Not all of this region,
however, produced Golden Seal in abundance. Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky
and West Virginia have been the greatest Golden Seal producing
states, while in some localities in southern Illinois, southern
Missouri, northern Arkansas, and central and western Tennessee the
plant, tho common, could not be said to be sufficiently plentiful to
furnish any large amount of the root. In other portions of its range
it is sparingly distributed.
Many common names have been applied to this plant in different
localities, most of them bearing some reference to the characteristic
yellow color of the root, such as yellow root, yellow puccoon,
orange-root, yellow paint, yellow Indian paint, golden root, Indian
dye, curcuma, wild curcuma, wild tumeric, Indian tumeric, jaundice
root and yellow eye; other names are eyebalm, eye-root and ground
raspberry. Yellow root, a popular name for it, is misleading, as it
has been applied to other plants also, namely to gold thread, false
bittersweet, twinleaf and the yellow-wood. The name Golden Seal,
derived from its yellow color and seal-like scars on the root, has
been, however, generally adopted.
Description of the Plant.
It is a perennial plant and the thick yellow rootstock sends up an
erect, hairy stem about a foot in height, around the base of which
are two or three yellowish scales. The stems, as they emerge from the
ground, are bent over, the tops still remaining underground, and
sometimes the stems show some distance above the surface before the
tops are brought out from the soil. The yellow color of the roots and
scales extends partly up the stem so far as it is covered by soil,
while the portion of the stem above the ground has a purplish color.
Golden seal has only two leaves (rarely three), the stem bearing
these seeming to fork at the top, one branch supporting a large leaf
and the other a smaller one and a flower. Occasionally there is a
third leaf, much smaller than the other two and stemless.
The leaves are prominently veined on the lower surface, and are
palmately 5 to 9 lobed, the lobes broad, acute, sharply and unequally
toothed. The leaves are only partially developed at flowering time
and are very much wrinkled, but they continue to expand until they
are from 6 to 8 inches in diameter, becoming thinner in texture and
smoother. The upper leaf subtends or encloses the flower bud.
Early in spring, about April or May, the flower appears, but few ever
see it as it lasts only five or six days. It is greenish-white, less
than half an inch in diameter, and has no petals, but instead three
small petal-like sepals, which fall away as soon as the flower
expands, leaving only the stamens--as many as 40 or 50--in the center
of which are about a dozen pistils, which finally develop into a
round, fleshy, berrylike head. The fruit ripens in July or August,
turning a bright red and resembling a large raspberry, whence the
common name ground raspberry, is derived. Each fruit contains from 10
to 20 small, black, shining, hard seeds.
If the season has been moist, the plant sometimes persists to the
beginning of winter, but if it has been a dry season it dies soon
after the fruit is ripe, so that by the end of September no trace of
the plant remains above the ground. In a patch of Golden Seal there
are always many sterile stems, simple and erect, bearing a solitary
leaf at the apex but no flower.
Mr. Homer Bowers, of Montgomery county, Ind., who propagated Golden
Seal from the seed for the purpose of studying its germination and
growth, states that the plant grown from naturally sown seed often
escapes observation during the first year of its existence owing to
the fact that in this entire period nothing but two round seed leaves
are produced and at this stage the plant does not look materially
different from other young seedings. During its second year from seed
one basal leaf is sent up, followed in the third year by another
smaller leaf and the flower.
Description of the Rhizome, or Rootstock.
The rhizome (rootstock) and rootlets of Golden Seal, or hydrastis, as
it is also known in the drug trade, are the parts employed in
medicine. The full-grown rhizome, when fresh, is of a bright yellow
color, both internally and externally, about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches in
length, and from one-fourth to three-fourths of an inch in thickness.
Fibrous yellow rootlets are produced from the sides of the rhizome.
The fresh rhizome contains a large amount of yellow juice, and gives
off a rank, nauseating odor. When dry the rhizome measures from one
to two inches in length and from one-eighth to one-third of an inch
It is crooked, knotty, wrinkled, of a dull brown color outside, and
breaks with a clean, short, resinous fracture, showing a lemon-yellow
color if the root is not old. If the dried root is kept for a long
time it will be greenish-yellow or brown internally, and becomes
inferior in quality. On the upper surface of the rhizome are several
depressions, left by former annual stems, which resemble the imprint
of a seal; hence the name Golden Seal.
The fibrous rootlets become very wiry and brittle in drying, break
off readily and leaving only small protuberances, so that the root as
found in commerce is sometimes almost bare. The dried rhizome has
also a peculiar, somewhat narcotic, disagreeable odor, but not so
pronounced as in the fresh material; an exceedingly bitter taste; and
a persistent acridity which causes an abundant flow of saliva when
the rhizome is chewed.
Collection and Preparation of the Root.
The root should be collected in autumn after the plants have matured.
Spring-dug root shrinks far more in drying and always commands a
lower price than the fall-dug root. After the roots are removed from
the earth they should be carefully freed from soil and all foreign
particles. They should then be sorted and small, undeveloped roots
and broken pieces may be laid aside for replanting. After the roots
have been cleaned and sorted they are ready to be dried or cured.
Great care and judgment are necessary in drying the roots. It is
absolutely necessary that they should be perfectly dry before packing
and storing, as the presence of moisture induces the development of
molds and mildews, and of course renders them worthless. The roots
are dried by the exposure to the air, being spread out in thin layers
on drying frames or upon a large, clean, dry floor. They should be
turned several times during the day, repeating this day after day
until the roots are thoroughly dried. If dried out of doors they
should be placed under cover upon indication of rain and at night so
that they may not be injured by dew. After the roots are thoroughly
dried they may be packed as tightly as possible in dry sacks or
barrels and they are then ready for shipment.
Diminution of Supply.
Altho, perhaps, in some secluded localities Golden Seal may still be
found rather abundantly, the supply is rapidly diminishing and there
is a growing scarcity of the plant thruout its range. With the
advance of civilization and increase in population came a growing
demand for many of our native medicinal plants and a corresponding
decrease in the sources of supply. As the rich forest lands of the
Ohio valley and elsewhere were required for the needs of the early
settlers they were cleared of timber and cultivated, and the Golden
Seal, deprived of the shelter and protection necessary to its
existence, gradually disappeared, as it will not thrive on land that
Where it was not destroyed in this manner the root diggers,
diligently plying their vocation, did their share toward
exterminating this useful little plant, which they collected
regardless of the season, either before the plants had made much
growth in the spring or before the seeds had matured and been
disseminated, thus destroying all means of propagation. The demand
for the root appears to be increasing, and the time seems to be not
far distant when this plant will have become practically
exterminated, so far as the drug supply is concerned.
The cultivation of golden seal seems now to have become a necessity
in order to meet the demand and save the plant from extinction. Prior
to 1900 there seemed to be no one, so far as the Department of
Agriculture could ascertain, who had ever attempted the cultivation
of golden seal for the market. From that time on, many inquiries were
directed to the Department by persons who were quick to note the
upward tendency of prices for golden seal and there are now several
growers in different parts of the country who have undertaken the
cultivation of golden seal on a commercial scale.
The United States Department of Agriculture has been carrying on
experiments in the cultivation of Golden Seal on a small scale at
Washington, D. C., since the spring of 1899, in the hope that methods
might be worked out according to which this valuable wild drug plant
could be grown on a commercial scale. In these experiments the aim
has been to imitate the natural conditions of growth as closely as
possible. The results that have thus far been obtained, while not as
complete in some respects as would be desirable, seem to justify the
conclusion that Golden Seal can be successfully cultivated. The
methods of operation described apply to the conditions at Washington,
and the treatment may need to be somewhat modified under other
conditions of soil and climate.
Necessary Soil Conditions.
The soil conditions should imitate as closely as possible those seen
in thrifty deciduous forest. The soil should contain an ample supply
of humus, well worked into the ground, to secure the lightness and
moisture-retaining property of forest soils. The best form of humus
is probably leaf mold, but good results may be obtained by mulching
in the autumn or early winter with leaves, straw, stable manure, or
After the soil has been prepared and planted, it is well to add a
mulch in the fall as a partial protection to the roots during the
winter, and the decay of this material adds to the value of the soil
by the time the plants appear in the spring. The forest conditions
are thus imitated by the annual addition of vegetable matter to the
soil, which by its gradual decay accumulates an increasing depth of a
soil rich in materials adapted to the feeding of the plants and to
the preservation of proper physical conditions.
The growth of the weeds is also hindered to a considerable extent. If
sufficient attention is given to the presence of this mulch, the
nature of the underlying soil is of less importance than otherwise.
In the case of clay the thorough incorporation of a large amount of
decayed vegetable matter tends to give lightness to the otherwise
heavy soil, facilitating aeration and drainage. Since the roots of
the Golden Seal do not grow well in a wet soil, thorough drainage is
necessary. A lighter, sandy soil is improved by the addition of
humus, since its capacity to hold moisture is thereby increased and
the degree of fertility is improved.
The looser the soil, the easier it is to remove the roots in digging
without breaking or injuring them. Before planting, the soil should
be thoroughly prepared to a depth of at least 6 or 8 inches, so as to
secure good aeration and drainage. The good tilth thus secured will
be in a degree preserved by the continued addition of the mulch. A
further advantage of a careful preparation is seen in a decrease in
the amount of cultivation required later.
Since the Golden Seal grows naturally in the woods, it must be
protected from the full light of the sun by artificial shade. That
used in connection with the experiments of the Department was made of
ordinary pine plastering lath, nailed to a suitable frame elevated on
posts. The posts were of cedar 8 1/2 feet long, set 2 1/2 feet in the
ground in rows 11 feet apart, and 16 feet distance from each other in
the rows. Supports 2 by 4 inches were set on cedar blocks 2 feet long
sunk below the soil surface in the middle of the 16-foot spaces. Pine
pieces 2 by 4 inches were nailed edgewise to the tops of the posts
and supports. The posts were notched to receive the 2 by 4-inch
sticks. Pieces 2 by 4 inches were nailed across these at intervals of
4 feet. The laths were nailed to these, leaving spaces about an inch
This shade has been found to be satisfactory, as it is high enough
above the ground to allow such work as is necessary in preparing and
cultivating the land. If the lathing is extended 2 or 3 feet beyond
the posts on the sunny sides, injury from the sun's rays at the edges
of the area will be prevented. The sides may be protected by portable
board walls about 2 feet high set around the edges. Protection from
injury by winds when the tops are large may be thus secured. Too much
dampness should be guarded against in the use of the board sides,
since conditions might be developed favorable to the damping off
fungus and to aphides during the hot, rainy periods.
Trees may be used for shade, but this is in some ways to be regarded
as unsatisfactory. When the shade produced is of the right density,
the use of the moisture and raw food materials of the soil by the
trees is an undesirable feature.
The cultivation of Golden Seal is simple. Having secured a deep,
loose soil, rich in humus, renewed annually by the application of a
new mulch, the removal of weeds is the chief care. The soil, if
properly prepared, will tend to maintain itself in good condition.
The manner of treatment is very similar to that required by Ginseng,
which is also a plant of moist woods. If the ground is thoroughly
prepared, beds are not absolutely necessary. The plants may be grown
in rows 1 foot apart and 6 inches apart in the rows. Beds may be
thought by some to be more convenient, enabling the grower to remove
the weeds and collect the seed more readily. If beds are used, they
may be made from 4 to 8 feet wide, running the entire length of the
shade, with walks from 18 inches to 2 feet wide between. Boards 6 or
8 inches wide are set up around the sides of the beds, being held in
place by stakes driven on each side of the board in the center and at
the ends. These beds are filled with prepared soil, and the plants
are set 8 inches apart each way.
Methods of Propagation.
There are three possible ways of propagating the plant: (1) by seed;
(2) by division of the rhizomes; (3) by means of small plants formed
on the stronger fibrous roots. Thus far no success has been attained
in growing Golden Seal from the seed. The second and third methods
have given better results.
Experiments With Seeds.
Seeds just after ripening were planted in sandy soil mixed with well
rotted stable manure and mulched lightly with manure. Other lots were
kept over winter in a dry condition and planted in the spring in
potting soil in a greenhouse. No seedlings have appeared, but a long
rest period may be demanded and the seed may yet germinate.
Experiments With Divided Rhizomes.
In the spring of 1902, 40 plants were secured and planted under a
shade of temporary character, but the season was too far advanced to
permit of much growth during that year. In 1903, proper shade was
supplied, all other conditions were better, and the plants made a
good growth. The crop was dug about the middle of November 1903; the
roots were weighed and divided. They were again planted and in May,
1904, there were found to be 150 strong plants and a few smaller ones
as a result of this division, an increase of 275 per cent.
This method of propagation seems to be the most important and the
other two of second importance. The processes are simple and no skill
is needed. The plant dies down in late summer and the stem decays,
leaving a scar in its place on the rhizome. Two or more buds are
formed on the sides of the rhizome and these accumulate energy for
growth the following spring. If the root is cut in as many pieces as
there are buds, giving each plant a portion of the rhizome, some
fibrous roots, and one or more buds, the number of the plants can be
doubled. The roots are planted and mulched and the process is
complete. The rains pack the soil around the roots and they are ready
to grow when spring comes. The process may be repeated every year and
the number of roots increased indefinitely.
The stronger fibrous roots of the larger plants dug in the autumn of
1903 were formed from a few inches to a foot from the rhizome. Some
were about half an inch long, but the majority of them were smaller.
The larger ones need no special treatment and may be planted with the
main crop. The smaller ones should be planted in boxes or beds of
well prepared soil, at a distance of about 3 inches apart, mulched
with a thin coating of leaf mold or similar material, and grown in
shade until large enough to transplant to the shelter with the larger
plants. They will probably require at least three years to reach
their full development.
If they could be left undisturbed in the beds where they are formed
they would receive nourishment from the older rhizomes and perhaps
grow faster, but it is probably best to divide the older roots every
year where propagation alone is desired, planting the smaller roots
and the plants made by division of the rhizomes. The larger roots are
marketed to more advantage than the smaller ones, so it is best to
have the surplus consist of the larger roots. The frequent working of
the soil allowed by this treatment will keep it in better condition
than if left undisturbed for a longer period.
Yield of Roots.
The yield from the small plant grown by the Department was 4 pounds
of green roots to an eighth of a square rod of soil, or 5,120 pounds
per acre. This, when dried, would give about 1,500 pounds of
marketable roots. The conditions were not very good, the shade being
too close to the plants and the plants being set too far apart. The
yield will probably be larger with the shade now in use. The 150
roots obtained by dividing the above crop now occupy less than
one-fourth of a square rod and are set in rows one foot apart and 6
inches apart in the rows.
Time Necessary to Mature Crop.
The number of years necessary to produce the largest crop has not
been definitely determined, but the roots begin to decay after the
fourth year and the central and largest part of the root decays at
the oldest scar, leaving two or more plants in place of the old one.
No advantage can be gained by growing the plants more than three
years and probably very little by growing them more than two years.
For propagation alone, one year will give good results, while for
maintaining a constant area and producing a crop, two or three years,
depending upon the growth made, will give a good crop of large,
Golden Seal is a root the price of which has fluctuated widely,
because of the alternate oversupply and scarcity, manipulation of the
market, lack of demand, or other influences. High prices will cause
the diggers to gather the root in abundance, thus overstocking the
market, which the next season results in lower prices, at which
diggers refuse to collect the root, thus again causing a shortage in
the supply. Lack of demand usually brings about a shrinkage in price,
even tho the supply is light, while an active demand will cause
prices to advance in spite of a plentiful supply.
The arrival of spring dug root has a weakening effect on the market,
altho the fall dug root is always preferred. For the past few years,
however, high prices have been steadily maintained and there appears
to be but one cause for this and that is, as already pointed out,
that the forests no longer yield unlimited quantities of this
valuable root, as in former years, and the scant supply that can be
had is inadequate to meet the constantly increasing demand.
According to the market reports contained in the Oil, Paint and Drug
Reporter, the year 1904 opened with a quotation of 74 to 75 cents,
will soon advance (in one week early in February) from 76 cents to 95
cents. A still further advance occurred about the end of February,
when the price went up from $1.00 to $1.25 per pound. In March the
market was almost destitute of supplies, but lack of interest brought
the price down to $1.10. In May the price again advanced to $1.25 and
it was stated that the local supplies were being held by a small
number of dealers, altho it was believed that together they held not
more than 1,000 pounds. About June 1st the arrival of spring dug
roots caused the market to sag, prices ranging from $1.10 to $1.18
during that month and in July from 90 cents to $1.10.
In August the lowest price was $1.15 and the highest $1.50, no
discrimination being made between the fall dug and the spring dug
roots. From September 1st to October 15th, 1904, the price of Golden
Seal varied but little, $1.35 being the lowest and $1.40 the highest
quotation. No supplies worth mentioning can be obtained in the West;
the stock in New York is short and the demand, especially for export,
is increasing. It is impossible to ascertain the exact annual
consumption of Golden Seal root, but the estimates furnished by
reliable dealers place these figures at from 200,000 to 300,000
pounds annually, about one-tenth of which is probably used for
It will be observed that the price of this article is very sensitive
to market conditions and it seems probable that the point of
overproduction would be easily reached if a large number of Golden
Seal growers were to meet with success in growing large areas of this
By Alice Henkel, Assistant, and G. Fred Flugh,
Scientific Assistant, Drug and Medicinal Plant Investigations.
U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Considerable has been said the past few years concerning Hydrastis
(Golden Seal) and I do not wish to enter on a long article describing
this plant, but will make the facts brief and narrate some of my
experiences with the plant under cultivation.
The scientific name is Hydrastis Candensis, the common name Golden
Seal, yellow root, puccoon root, Indian tumeric, etc., according to
the section in which it is found. It is a perennial plant with an
annual stem same as Ginseng, and appears above ground in the spring
at the same time and manner. The stalk coming thru the ground bent
and leaves folded. It has from one to three palmately five to nine
lobed leaves, uneven and sharply toothed.
The fruit or seed grows from the base of one of these leaves. Flower
is first whitish green producing the fruit red and resembling a
strawberry, maturing last of July and the first of August.
The berry contains from fifteen to twenty small oval black shinny
seeds. Only a portion of the stalks ever bear seed. From the middle
to the last of September the stalks die down and when winter comes on
the hydrastis bed appears the same as a Ginseng bed.
The root stalk or rhizome is thick, rough covered with rounded
indentations or eyes, dark yellow in color and having many long
threadlike bright yellow fibres branching in all directions. It has
one and sometimes as many as four buds which will produce the next
season's stalks. Besides these there are many latent buds and little
plantlets on the runners of fibrous roots.
The root and all of its fibres is the part used in medicine.
I presume it will be difficult to fix a date when this plant was
first used in medicine. But it is known that the Indians used it in
healing diseases and in preparing stains and paints when first
observed by the white man. Dr. Rafinesque first makes mention of it
in a medical work in 1828 and the elective physicians adopted it in
their practice in 1847. The Pharmacopoeia of the U. S. in 1860 made
Hydrastis an official drug and described the manufacture of different
It has since gained in favor and in extent of application until at
present it is almost the specific in the treatment of certain
catarrhal conditions. Thousands of pounds being used by the
physicians in different parts of the world variously estimated from
200,000 to 300,000 pounds annually, more extensively, as you see,
The price has advanced as given by the Drug Reporter, from 1894 of 18
to 23 cents a pound, to 1903, of 52 to 75 cents a pound, since 1903
to 1906 it has advanced to $1.10 to $1.30 a pound. The figures
representing the highest and lowest quotations of those years. The
price of the plant has advanced first because investigation has
proven the value of the plant as a drug in the healing art increasing
its consumption, second the consumption of and destruction of its
habitat is limiting its supply. It is used in all countries, but not
found in all countries in its wild state. The United States supplies
the majority of the root.
Its cultivation is very promising and profitable because only very
few have entered the industry yet, the wild supply is becoming
exhausted, the drug trade demands it and its consumption depends upon
a sound demand.
There is a promising opportunity in this industry and when I am
speaking I am not offering inducements to get the rich quick
individual, but to the careful, painstaking, plodding individual who
is willing to give at least some labor for a handsome compensation. I
have been one of the pioneers to begin the investigation and
cultivation of this plant, and shall tell some of my experience in
handling the plants.
[Illustration: Golden Seal in an Upland Grove.]
I procured four years ago several pounds of green Hydrastis root from
a digger and set them out in three different patches. One in the open
garden, one in an inclosure shaded in the garden, and one bed in a
grove. I had the beds made the same as instructions had been given me
for making beds for Ginseng. Ground loose and mellow, I selected only
roots with buds formed, and set an inch under ground and six inches
This was in June. All the plants came up and all made a good growth
except those in the open, the leaves on these remained small and
pinched about two to three inches from the ground. In digging them I
found that they had thrown out a number of fibrous roots. In the fall
I procured and set several thousand roots in the woods.
The next fall I set many more, but this time I cut the roots into
three or four pieces and planted. All came the next summer, some not
appearing above ground until June. I have had no success in planting
seeds, so do not use this means of raising the plants. The method I
use now is to cut the roots across so a latent bud will be on one
piece, all small pieces broken and the fibers for some of these grow
After preparing the beds loose I lay little trenches across and drop
the pieces in these every two or three inches apart, then cover about
an inch with loose dirt, then leaves and mulch. The best time I have
found to plant is in September, the earlier the better, for the buds
then form before freezing up and are ready to come in the spring
They grow larger and thriftier if well rotted manure is in the ground
and this does not interfere with the quality of the root. The largest
roots I have seen grew in a hog lot supplied with hog manure. In
three or four years I dig the roots, using a manure fork, the largest
ones I wash and dry; the smaller ones and pieces I use for planting.
I am arranging a barrel shaped affair closed at the ends and covered
around with wire to wash the roots. The method is to put a rod thru
with handles on ends and rest on grooves on posts immersed half way
of barrel in running water and revolve. In this way I believe the
roots can be washed readily by splashing and falling in the water,
and tons of the roots easily handled and washed clean with little
I have dried them by spreading on racks to dry in the sun. In bright
sun it requires two or three days. As they wilt, I place on paper in
order to save the fibres that break off. When making a business of
growing these roots and having good, fresh roots in considerable
quantity, a better price can be commanded by dealing direct with the
drug mill. A great many of the roots when dug will weigh one ounce or
more and the roots lose in weight about the same as drying Ginseng.
Dr. L. C. Ingram, Wabasha County, Minn.
* * *
There has never been a time in the history of this country when the
cultivation of certain medicinal plants, as Golden Seal, Ginseng,
Seneca and others appealed so much to those interested in such things
as the present.
Many of these plants have hitherto been found growing wild in our
woods and fields, and along our road sides and waste places, and have
usually been gathered in an immature state and out of season, washed
and cured in a slovenly manner and bartered at country stores for
coffee and calico and other commodities. In this way the drugs and
drug trade of the country have been supplied. I think it is very
evident to the casual observer that this manner of supply is nearing
its close finally and forever.
The merchant who handles the stock may not know as yet the great and
growing scarcity of almost all our medicinal plants. But the digger
who has stood at the first end of the drug trade, in touch with the
natural supply, knows that the fountains are dried up, in great
measure, and that the streams of the trade must necessarily soon
cease to flow or be supplied by artificial means. In most cases
medicinal plants grow naturally in the best soils, the sandy, loamy,
moist north hill sides, the rich, black coves at the heads of our
small streams and in the rich alluvial bottoms along our larger
creeks and small rivers. They will not grow in wet lands or on south
hill sides. This should be remembered by the would-be culturist and
the natural whims of the plant attended to, else failure and
disappointment are sure.
What I have said is peculiarly the case with Golden Seal, the yellow
root of our locality, the ground raspberry of another, the yellow
puccoon of another and probably bearing other local names in other
localities. The natural habitat of Golden Seal has been cleared up
for farming or grazing purposes, while the keen eyed "sanger" has
ferreted out every nook and corner adapted to the growth of this
plant and then ruthlessly dug it, little and big, old and young,
until today it is a very scarce article.
The Indians regarded Golden Seal as a sure remedy for sore and
inflamed eyes, sore mouths, old sores, wounds, etc., and first taught
the whites its use as a remedy.
The pioneers used it as teas, washes and salves years before it
became known to the medical fraternity. It did not become an article
of commerce in any way until about the year 1847, and then it was so
plentiful and so little used that the trade was supplied at 3 cents
per pound for the dried root. I dug it myself, when a boy, as late as
1868, and received 5 cents per pound for the dried root, in trade, at
a country store. I found it plentiful in patches in open woods where
the ground was rich and favored the growth of paw paw, dogwood,
walnut, elm, sugar maple, etc. It grew best in land well drained and
full of leaf mold. Remember this, ye planters.
Well, the demand has rapidly increased, and the supply, from the
causes afore mentioned, has more rapidly decreased, until the price
has risen from 3 cents to $1.50 per pound. Golden Seal was originally
found growing in favorable localities from Southern New York west to
Minnesota, thence south to Arkansas and east to Georgia and the hill
regions of the Carolinas. Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and Eastern
Kentucky have been by far the greatest Golden Seal producing
Golden Seal is a perennial plant, the gnarly, knotty root of which is
the part used in medicine. These knotty roots send out in every
direction many long, slender, bright yellow, fibrous roots. Each root
in spring early sends up one to six hairy stems six inches to fifteen
or twenty inches in height, each stem supporting at the top one, or
if a seed yielding plant, two large leaves, in shape somewhat
resembling the leaf of the sugar maple, but thicker and more
leathery. At the base of each stem are two or three scale like leaves
starting from the root, around the stem and extending to the surface
of the ground. These scales are yellow while the leaf stems are
somewhat purplish in color. The seed bearing stocks fork near the top
of the plant, each stem supporting a leaf, the smaller leaf enclosing
a flower bud at the base and at the top of the leaf stem. The plants
that are not of seed bearing age and size do not fork and have but
one leaf. The flowers are greenish, about an inch in diameter and
open, here, about the first of May. Then continue open about five
days when the petals fall and the development of the seed berry
This berry ripens in July. When ripe it is red in color and resembles
a large raspberry and contains about 20 to 30 small, round, black,
shiny, hard seeds. These seeds, if stratified at once and kept in
moist, sandy loam, will begin to open by the first of February, each
seed showing a beautiful, bright, shiny, golden bud. The seeds should
be planted very early. When it comes up the young plant has two
leaves and does not develop any further leaf or stem growth during
the first summer. The first two leaves do not look at all like those
that follow. So, be careful or you will destroy your plants for
Plants may be readily propagated by cutting up the roots into pieces,
say 1/4-inch long and placing these root cuttings in boxes of loamy
sand in the autumn. By spring each root cutting will have developed a
fine bud and be ready for transplanting, which should be done as
early as possible. The plant also propagates itself by sending up
suckers from the fibrous roots.
[Illustration: Locust Grove Seal Garden.]
As to culture, I would say, follow nature. Do not plow and hoe and
rake and make a bed as for onions. Just simply select a piece of
virgin soil, if possible, and make rows, say one foot apart and set
the plants about three or four inches apart in the rows. All the
culture needful is to pull out the weeds, and, if the trees in the
patch be not sufficient to furnish a good leaf mulch in the fall,
attend to this by mulching with a good coat of forest leaves.
My Golden Seal garden is in a locust grove that is rapidly growing
into posts, so, you see, I am getting two very profitable crops off
the same land at the same time. The plants should grow in a bed of
this kind until it becomes full of roots, which will require three to
five years. It is all the better if they are allowed to grow longer.
The whole patch should be dug in the fall when the tops die down. The
large roots should be carefully washed and cleansed of all foreign
roots and fibers and dried on clean cloths in the shade, when it is
ready for market and should be shipped in clean, new bags to some
reliable dealer in the larger cities. There are plenty of them and I
would advise that you write to several of them, telling them just
what you have before you ship.
I know from actual experience that good money may be made by the
right party in the culture of Golden Seal. If a young man would start
a garden of medicinal plants and attend to it at odd times, studying
the nature of the plants and carefully save all seeds and add them to
his stock, in a few years he would have a garden with a large sum of
money. I have estimated an acre of Golden Seal at full maturity and
as thick on the ground as it should be grown to be worth $4,840, or
one dollar per square yard. It will not take a very great while to
fill an acre with plants. Besides, if the land is planted in locust
trees it is yielding two crops of wonderful value at the same time.
One young man from Virginia says: "I have a piece of new ground just
cleared up which I think would be just the thing, and then I could
set out short stem red cherries to shade and cover the ground. Please
let me hear from you at once." Well, if this piece of ground is on
the right side of the hill, that is, the north or northeast or west
slope, and is rich, loose and loamy, full of leaf mold and naturally
well drained, it is all right for Golden Seal, but would it suit
cherries? Cherries might do very well for shade, but I would prefer
catalpa or locust or some other quick growing timber tree to any sort
of fruit tree.
One reason is that in gathering the fruit and in caring for the trees
I think the Golden Seal would be trampled upon and injured, also the
ground would be trampled and compacted and thus rendered unsuitable
for this plant. The ground in which Golden Seal grows should be kept
in its "new state" as much as possible. However, my Virginia friend
may succeed well with his cherries and Seal. He must keep up the
primitive condition of the soil and keep out weeds and grass.
Another question, "How long will it take it to mature?" As to its
"maturity," it may be dug, cleansed, dried and marketed at any time
and in any stage of its growth. But I think that a setting of Golden
Seal should be dug in the fall three or four years after planting;
the large roots washed and cleansed and made ready for market, while
the smaller roots should be used for resetting the bed. You will have
enough small roots to set a patch ten or twelve times the size of the
one you dig, as each root set will in three or four years produce ten
to fifteen good plants besides yielding a lot of seed.
"How much will it cost to plant one-eighth of an acre?" One-eighth of
an acre contains twenty square rods, and to set one square rod, in
rows eighteen inches apart would take 363 plants, and twenty square
rods would take 20 times 363 plants, or 7,260 plants, which at $10.00
per thousand, would cost $72.60. But I would advise the beginner to
"make haste slowly" in trying new things. A thing may be all right
and very profitable if we understand it and give it proper culture,
while it is very easy to make sad failure by over doing a good thing.
So let the beginner procure a thousand or so plants and start his
garden on a small scale, and increase his plantation from his own
seed bed as his knowledge of the plant and its culture increases. A
very large garden may be set in a few years from 1,000 plants.
"Should the seed be sown broadcast?" To be successful with the seed
requires great patience and pains. I make a large flat brush heap and
burn it off in the fall. I then dig up the ground to the depth of
three or four inches and place boards edgewise around this bed,
letting them down into the ground two or three inches. These boards
are to keep out mice and to prevent washing. I then sow the seeds in
little trenches made with a hoe handle about six inches apart and
pretty thick in the trenches and smooth over and tramp solid.
Then sow a few handfuls of bone dust mulched with forest leaves and
cover with brush to keep the leaves from blowing away. You are done
now until spring. In the early spring, after freezing weather is
over, carefully remove the brush and the mulch of leaves. Remember
this must be done early as the plant wants to come up early. Watch
for your young plants and carefully pull up every weed as soon as it
shows itself. Mulch again in the fall and remove as before the next
spring. Keep down weeds as before, and by fall you will have a fine
lot of No. 1 two-year-old plants, which may be transplanted to the
garden at once or early the next spring.
I should have stated that Golden Seal seed should not be allowed to
dry after gathering. They should be placed in layers of sand in a box
and kept moist until planting time. They begin to germinate very
early, and if you delay planting until spring you are nearly sure to
As to the "profits," I want it distinctly understood that I do not
think that every one who starts a bed or patch of Golden Seal will be
a millionaire in a few years. But I do think, and in fact I know,
that considering the land in cultivation, the time and expense of its
culture, it is one of the most profitable crops that can be grown in
Lee S. Dick, Wayne County, W. Va.
GOLDEN SEAL--GOVERNMENT DESCRIPTION, ETC.
The following is from a bulletin issued by the U. S. Department of
Agriculture--Bureau of Plant Industry--and edited by Alice Henkel:
Hydrastis Canadensis L.
Other Common Names--Yellowroot, yellow puccoon, orange-root, yellow
Indian-paint, turmeric-root, Indian turmeric, Ohio curcuma, ground
raspberry, eye-root, eye-balm, yellow-eye, jaundice-root, Indian-dye.
Habitat and Range--This native forest plant occurs in patches in
high, open woods, and usually on hill sides or bluffs affording
natural drainage, from southern New York to Minnesota and western
Ontario, south to Georgia and Missouri.
Golden Seal is now becoming scarce thruout its range. Ohio, Indiana,
Kentucky and West Virginia have been the greatest Golden Seal
[Illustration: Golden Seal (Hydrastis Canadensis) Flowering Plant
Description of Plant--Golden Seal is a perennial plant belonging to
the same family as the buttercup, namely the crowfoot family
(Ranunculaceae.) It has a thick yellow rootstock, which sends up an
erect hairy stem about 1 foot in height, surrounded at the base by 2
or 3 yellowish scales. The yellow color of the roots and scales
extends up the stem so far as it is covered by soil, while the
portion of the stem above ground has a purplish color. The stem,
which has only two leaves, seems to fork at the top, one branch
bearing a large leaf and the other a smaller one and a flower. A
third leaf, which is much smaller than the other two and stemless, is
occasionally produced. The leaves are palmately 5 to 9 lobed, the
lobes broad, acute, sharply and unequally toothed; they are
prominently veined on the lower surface and at flowering time, when
they are very much wrinkled, they are only partially developed, but
they continue to expand until they are from 6 to 8 inches in diameter
becoming thinner in texture and smoother. The upper leaf subtends or
incloses the flower bud. The greenish white flower appears about
April or May, but it is of short duration, lasting only five or six
days. It is less than half an inch in diameter, and, instead of
petals, has three small petal-like sepals, which fall away as soon as
the flower expands, leaving only the numerous stamens (as many as 40
or 50), in the center of which are about a dozen pistils, which
finally develop into a round fleshy, berry-like head which ripens in
July or August. The fruit when ripe turns a bright red and resembles
a large raspberry, whence the common name "ground-raspberry" is
derived. It contains from 10 to 20 small black, shining, hard seeds.
[Illustration: Golden Seal Rootstock.]
Description of Rootstock--The fresh rootstock of Golden Seal, which
has a rank, nauseating odor, is bright yellow, both internally and
externally, with fibrous yellow rootlets produced from the sides. It
is from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches in length, from 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch
in thickness, and contains a large amount of yellow juice.
In the dried state the rootstock is crooked, knotty and wrinkled,
from 1 to 2 inches in length, and from one-eighth to one-third of an
inch in diameter. It is a dull brown color on the outside and breaks
with a clean, short, resinous fracture, showing a lemon-yellow color
inside. After the rootstock has been kept for some time it will
become greenish yellow or brown internally and its quality impaired.
The cup-like depressions or stem scars on the upper surface of the
rootstock resemble the imprint of a seal, whence the most popular
name of the plant, golden seal, is derived. The rootstock as found in
commerce is almost bare, the fibrous rootlets, which in drying become
very wiry and brittle, breaking off readily and leaving only small
The odor of the dried rootstock, while not so pronounced as in the
fresh material, is peculiar, narcotic and disagreeable. The taste is
exceedingly bitter, and when the rootstock is chewed there is a
persistent acridity, which causes an abundant flow of saliva.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root should be collected in autumn
after the seeds have ripened, freed from soil, and carefully dried.
After a dry season Golden Seal dies down soon after the fruit is
mature, so that it often happens that by the end of September not a
trace of the plant remains above ground; but if the season has been
moist, the plant sometimes persists to the beginning of winter. The
price of Golden Seal ranges from $1 to $1.50 a pound.
Golden Seal, which is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, is
a useful drug in digestive disorders and in certain catarrhal
affections of the mucous membranes, in the latter instance being
administered both internally and locally.
Cultivation--Once so abundant in certain parts of the country,
especially in the Ohio Valley, Golden Seal is now becoming scarce
thruout its range, and in consequence of the increased demand for the
root, both at home and abroad, its cultivation must sooner or later
be more generally undertaken in order to satisfy the needs of
medicine. In some parts of the country the cultivation of Golden Seal
is already under way.
The first thing to be considered in growing this plant is to furnish
it, as nearly as possible, the conditions to which it has been
accustomed in its native forest home. This calls for a well-drained
soil, rich in humus, and partially shaded. Golden Seal stands
transplanting well, and the easiest way to propagate it is to bring
the plants in from the forest and transplant them to a properly
prepared location, or to collect the rootstocks and to cut them into
as many pieces as there are buds, planting these pieces in a deep,
loose, well-prepared soil, and mulching, adding new mulch each year
to renew the humus. With such a soil the cultivation of Golden Seal
is simple and it will be necessary chiefly to keep down the weeds.
The plants may be grown in rows 1 foot apart and 6 inches apart in
the row, or they may be grown in beds 4 to 8 feet wide, with walks
between. Artificial shade will be necessary and this is supplied by
the erection of lath sheds. The time required to obtain a marketable
crop is from two to three years.
COHOSH--BLACK AND BLUE.
Cimicifuga Racemosa (L.) Nutt.
Synonym--Actaea Racemosa L.
Other Common Names--Black snakeroot, bugbane, bugwort,
rattlesnakeroot, rattleroot, rattleweed, rattletop, richweed,
Habitat and Range--Altho preferring the shade of rich woods, black
cohosh will grow occasionally in sunny situations in fence corners
and woodland pastures. It is most abundant in the Ohio Valley, but it
occurs from Maine to Wisconsin, south along the Allegheny Mountains
to Georgia and westward to Missouri.
Description of Plant--Rising to a height of 3 to 8 feet, the showy,
delicate-flowered spikes of the Black Cohosh tower above most of the
other woodland flowers, making it a conspicuous plant in the woods
and one that can be easily recognized.
[Illustration: Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa) Leaves, Flowering
Spikes and Rootstock.]
Black Cohosh is an indigenous perennial plant belonging to the
same family as the Golden Seal, namely, the crowfoot family
(Ranunculaceae). The tall stem, sometimes 8 feet in height, is rather
slender and leafy, the leaves consisting of three leaflets, which are
again divided into threes. The leaflets are about 2 inches long,
ovate, sharp pointed at the apex, thin and smooth, variously lobed
and the margins sharply toothed. The graceful, spikelike terminal
cluster of flowers, which is produced from June to August, is from 6
inches to 2 feet in length. Attractive as these flower clusters are
to the eye, they generally do not prove attractive very long to those
who may gather them for their beauty, since the flowers emit an
offensive odor, which account for some of the common names applied to
this plant, namely, bugbane and bugwort, it having been thought that
this odor was efficacious in driving away bugs. The flowers do not
all open at one time and thus there may be seen buds, blossoms, and
seed pods on one spike. The buds are white and globular and as they
expand in flower there is practically nothing to the flower but very
numerous white stamens and the pistil, but the stamens spread out
around the pistil in such a manner as to give to the spike a somewhat
feathery or fluffy appearance which is very attractive. The seed pods
are dry, thick and leathery, ribbed, and about one-fourth of an inch
long, with a small beak at the end. The smooth brown seeds are
enclosed within the pods in two rows. Any one going thru the woods in
winter may find the seed pods, full of seeds, still clinging to the
dry, dead stalk, and the rattling of the seeds in the pods as the
wind passes over them has given rise to the common names
rattle-snakeroot (not "rattlesnake"-root), rattleweed, rattletop and
Description of Rootstock--The rootstock is large, horizontal and
knotty or rough and irregular in appearance. The upper surface of the
rootstock is covered with numerous round scars and stumps, the
remains of former leaf stems, and on the fresh rootstocks may be seen
the young, pinkish white buds which are to furnish the next season's
growth. From the lower part of the rootstock long, fleshy roots arc
produced. The fresh rootstock is very dark reddish brown on the
outside, white within, showing a large central pith from which
radiate rays of a woody texture, and on breaking the larger roots
also the woody rays will be seen in the form of a cross. On drying,
the rootstock becomes hard and turns much darker, both internally and
externally, but the peculiar cross formation of the woody rays in
both rootstock and roots, being lighter in color, is plainly seen
without the aid of a magnifying glass. The roots in drying become
wiry and brittle and break off very readily. Black cohosh has a heavy
odor and a bitter, acrid taste.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root should be collected after the
fruit has ripened, usually in September. The price ranges from 2 to 3
cents a pound.
The Indians had long regarded black cohosh as a valuable medicinal
plant, not only for the treatment of snake bites, but it was also a
very popular remedy among their women, and it is today considered of
value as an alterative, emmenagogue, and sedative, and is recognized
as official in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
Caulophyllum Thalictroides (L.) Michx.
Other Common Names--Caulophyllum, pappoose-root, squawroot,
blueberryroot, blue ginseng, yellow ginseng.
[Illustration: Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum Thalictroides).]
Habitat and Range--Blue Cohosh is found in the deep rich loam of
shady woods from New Brunswick to South Carolina, westward to
Nebraska, being abundant especially thruout the Allegheny Mountain
Description of Plant--This member of the barberry family
(Berberidaceae) is a perennial herb, 1 to 3 feet in height, and
indigenous to this country. It bears at the top one large, almost
stemless leaf, which is triternately compound--that is, the main leaf
stem divides into three stems, which again divide into threes, and
each division bears three leaflets. Sometimes there is a smaller
leaf, but similar to the other, at the base of the flowering branch.
The leaflets are thin in texture, oval, oblong, or obovate and 3 to 5
In the early stage of its growth this plant is covered with a sort of
bluish green bloom, but it generally loses this and becomes smooth.
The flowers are borne in a small terminal panicle or head, and are
small and greenish yellow. They appear from April to May, while the
leaf is still small. The globular seeds, which ripen about August,
are borne on stout stalks in membranous capsules and resemble
Description of Rootstock--The thick, crooked rootstock of Blue Cohosh
is almost concealed by the mass of matted roots which surrounds it.
There are numerous cup-shaped scars and small branches on the upper
surface of the rootstock, while the lower surface gives off numerous
long, crooked, matted roots. Some of the scars are depressed below
the surface of the rootstock, while others are raised above it. The
outside is brownish and the inside tough and woody. Blue Cohosh
possesses a slight odor and a sweetish, somewhat bitter and acrid
taste. In the powdered state it causes sneezing.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root is dug in the fall. Very often
the roots of Golden Seal or twinleaf are found mixed with those of
Blue Cohosh. The price of Blue Cohosh root ranges from 2 1/2 to 4
cents a pound.
Blue Cohosh, official in the United States Pharmacopoeia for 1890, is
used as a demulcent, antispasmodic, emmenagogue and diuretic.
SNAKEROOT--CANADA AND VIRGINIA.
Asarum Canadense L.
Other Common Names--Asarum, wild ginger, Indian ginger, Vermont
snakeroot, heart-snakeroot, southern snakeroot, black snakeroot,
colt's-foot, snakeroot, black snakeweed, broadleaved asarabacca,
false colt's-foot, cat's foot, colicroot.
Habitat and Range--This inconspicuous little plant frequents rich
woods or rich soil along road sides from Canada south to North
Carolina and Kansas.
Description of Plant--Canada snakeroot is a small, apparently
stemless perennial, not more than 6 to 12 inches in height, and
belongs to the birthwort family (Aristolochaceae). It usually has but
two leaves which are borne on slender, finely hairy stems; they are
kidney shaped or heart shaped, thin, dark green above and paler green
on the lower surface, strongly veined, and from 4 to 7 inches broad.
The solitary bell-shaped flower is of an unassuming dull brown or
brownish purple and this modest color, together with its position on
the plant, renders it so inconspicuous as to escape the notice of the
casual observer. It droops from a short, slender stalk produced
between the two leaf stems and is almost hidden under the two leaves,
growing so close to the ground that it is sometimes buried beneath
old leaves, and sometimes the soil must be removed before the flower
can be seen. It is bell shaped, wooly, the inside darker in color
than the outside and of a satiny texture. The fruit which follows is
in the form of a leathery 6-celled capsule.
[Illustration: Canada Snakeroot (Asarum Canadense).]
Description of Rootstock--Canada snakeroot has a creeping, yellowish
rootstock, slightly jointed, with this rootlets produced from joints
which occur about every half inch or so. In the drug trade the
rootstock is usually found in pieces a few inches in length and about
one-eighth of an inch in diameter. These are four-angled, crooked,
brownish and wrinkled on the outside, whitish inside and showing a
large central pith, hard and brittle and breaking with a short
fracture. The odor is fragrant and the taste spicy and aromatic, and
has been said to be intermediate between ginger and serpentaria.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The aromatic root of Canada snakeroot is
collected in autumn and the price ranges from 10 to 15 cents a pound.
It was reported as very scarce in the latter part of the summer of
1906. Canada Snakeroot, which was official in the United States
Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1880, is used as an aromatic, diaphoretic
(1) Aristolochia serpentaris L. and (2) Aristolochia reticulata Nutt.
[Illustration: Verginia Serpentaria (Aristolochia serpentaris).]
Other Common Names--(1) Virginia serpentaria, Virginia snakeroot,
serpentary, snakeweed, pelican-flower, snagrel, sangrel,
sangree-root; (2) Texas serpentaria, Texas snakeroot, Red River
Habitat and Range--Virginia serpentaria is found in rich woods from
Connecticut to Michigan and southward, principally along the
Alleghenies, and Texas serpentaria occurs in the Southwestern States,
growing along river banks from Arkansas to Louisiana.
Description of Virginia Serpentaria--About midsummer the queerly
shaped flowers of this native perennial are produced. They are very
similar to those of the better known "Dutchman's-pipe," another
species of this genus, which is quite extensively grown as an
ornamental vine for covering porches and trellises. Virginia
serpentaria and Texas serpentaria both belong to the birth wort
family (Aristolochiaceae). The Virginia serpentaria is nearly erect,
the slender, wavy stem sparingly branched near the base, and usually
growing to about a foot in height, sometimes, however, even reaching
3 feet. The leaves are thin, ovate, ovate lance shaped or oblong
lance shaped, and usually heart shaped at the base; they are about 2
1/2 inches long and about 1 or 1 1/2 inches in width. The flowers are
produced from near the base of the plant, similar to its near
relative, the Canada snakeroot. They are solitary and terminal, borne
on slender, scaly branches, dull brownish purple in color, and of a
somewhat leathery texture; the calyx tube is curiously bent or
contorted in the shape of the letter S. The fruit is a roundish
6-celled capsule, about half an inch in diameter and containing
Description of Texas Serpentaria--This species has a very wavy stem,
with oval, heart-shaped, clasping leaves, which are rather thick and
strongly reticulated or marked with a network of veins; hence the
specific name reticulata. The entire plant is hairy, with numerous
long, coarse hairs. The small, densely hairy purplish flowers are
also produced from the base of the plant.
Description of Rootstock--Serpentaria has a short rootstock with many
thin, branching, fibrous roots. In the dried state it is thin and
bent, the short remains of stems showing on the upper surface and the
under surface having numerous thin roots about 4 inches in length,
all of a dull yellowish brown color, internally white. It has a very
agreeable aromatic odor, somewhat like camphor, and the taste is
described as warm, bitterish and camphoraceous.
The Texas serpentaria has a larger rootstock, with fewer roots less
interlaced than the Virginia serpentaria.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The roots of serpentaria are collected
in autumn. Various other roots are sometimes mixed with serpentaria,
but as they are mostly high-priced drugs, such as golden seal,
pinkroot, senega and ginseng, their presence in a lot of serpentaria
is probably accidental, due simply to proximity of growth of these
plants. Abscess-root (Polemonium Reptans L.) is another root with
which serpentaria is often adulterated. It is very similar to
serpentaria, except that it is nearly white. The price of serpentaria
ranges from 35 to 40 cents a pound.
Serpentaria is used for its stimulant, tonic, and diaphoretic
properties. Both species are official in the United States
Phytolacca Decandra L. a.
Synonym--Phytolacca Americana (L). a.
Other Common Names--Poke, pigeon-berry, garget, scoke, pocan, coakum,
Virginia poke, inkberry, red inkberry, American nightshade,
Habitat and Range--Pokeweed, a common, familiar, native weed, is
found in rich, moist soil along fence rows, fields, and uncultivated
land from the New England States to Minnesota south to Florida and
Description of Plant--In Europe, where pokeweed has become
naturalized from his country, it is regarded as an ornamental garden
plant, and, indeed, it is very showy and attractive with its reddish
purple stems, rich green foliage, and clusters of white flowers and
The stout, smooth stems, arising from a very large perennial root,
attain a height of from 3 to 9 feet and are erect and branched, green
at first, then reddish. If a piece of the stem is examined, the pith
will be seen to be divided into disk-shaped parts with hollow spaces
between them. The smooth leaves are borne on short stems and are
about 5 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide, ovate or ovate oblong,
acute at the apex, and the margins entire. The long-stalked clusters
of whitish flowers, which appear from July to September are from 3 to
4 inches in length, the flowers numerous and borne on reddish stems.
In about two months the berries will have matured and assumed a rich
dark-purple color. These smooth and shining purple berries are
globular, flattened at both ends, and contain black seeds embedded in
a rich crimson juice. This plant belongs to the pokeweed family
a. Phytolacca Americana L. by right of priority should be accepted
but P. Decandra L. is used in conformity with the Pharmacopoeia.
[Illustration: Pokeweed (Phytolacca Decandra), Flowering and
Description of Root--Pokeweed has a very thick, long, fleshy root,
conical in shape and branches very much resembling that of
horseradish and poisonous. In commerce it usually occurs in
transverse or lengthwise slices, the outside a yellowish brown and
finely wrinkled lengthwise and thickly encircled with lighter colored
ridges. It breaks with a fibrous fracture and is yellowish gray
within. The transverse slices show many concentric rings. There is a
slight odor and the taste is sweetish and acrid. The root when
powdered causes sneezing.
[Illustration: Pokeweek Root.]
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root of the Pokeweed, which is
official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, is collected in the
latter part of autumn, thoroughly cleaned, cut into a transverse or
lengthwise slices, and carefully dried. It brings from 2 1/2 to 4
cents a pound.
The root is used for its alterative properties in treating various
diseases of the skin and blood, and in certain cases in relieving
pain and allaying inflammation. It also acts upon the bowels and
The berries when fully matured are also used in medicine.
The young and tender shoots of the pokeweed are eaten in spring, like
asparagus, but bad results may follow if they are not thoroughly
cooked or if they are cut too close to the root.
Podophyllum Peltatum L.
Other Common Names--Mandrake, wild mandrake, American mandrake, wild
lemon, ground-lemon, hog-apple, devil's-apple, Indian apple,
raccoon-berry, duck's-foot, umbrella-plant, vegetable calomel.
Habitat and Range--The May-apple is an indigenous plant, found in low
woods, usually growing in patches, from western Quebec to Minnesota,
south to Florida and Texas.
Description of Plant--A patch of May-apple can be distinguished from
afar, the smooth, dark-green foliage and close and even stand making
it a conspicuous feature of the woodland vegetation.
May-apple is a perennial plant, and belongs to the barberry family
(Berberidaceae.) It is erect and grows about 1 foot in height. The
leaves are only two in number, circular in outline, but with five to
seven deep lobes, the lobes 2 cleft, and toothed at the apex; they
are dark green above, the lower surface lighter green and somewhat
hairy or smooth, sometimes 1 foot in diameter, and borne on long
leafstalks which are fixed to the center of the leaf, giving it an
umbrella-like appearance. The waxy-white, solitary flower, sometimes
2 inches in diameter, appears in May, nodding on its short stout
stalk, generally right between the two large umbrella-like leaves,
which shade and hide it from view. The fruit which follows is lemon
shaped, at first green, then yellow, about 2 inches in length and
edible, altho when eaten immoderately it is known to have produced
In a patch of May-apple plants there are always a number of sterile
or flowerless stalks, which bear leaves similar to those of the
[Illustration: May-apple (Podophyllum Pellatum), Upper Portion of
Plant with Flower and Rootstock.]
Description of Rootstock--The horizontally creeping rootstock of
May-apple when taken from the ground, is from 1 to 6 feet or more in
length, flexible, smooth, and round, dark brown on the outside and
whitish and fleshy within; at intervals of a few inches are thickened
joints, on the upper surface of which are round stem scars and on the
lower side a tuft of rather stout roots. Sometimes the rootstock
bears lateral branches. The dried rootstock, as it occurs in the
stores, is in irregular, somewhat cylindrical pieces, smooth or
somewhat wrinkled, yellowish brown or dark brown externally, whitish
to pale brown internally, breaking with a short, sharp fracture, the
surface of which is mealy. The odor is slight and the taste at first
sweetish, becoming very bitter and acrid.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The proper time for collecting the
rootstock is in the latter half of September or in October. The price
paid for May-apple root ranges from 3 to 6 cents a pound.
May-apple root, which is recognized as official in the United States
Pharmacopoeia, is an active cathartic and was known as such to the
Polygala Senega L.
Other Common Names--Senega snakeroot, Seneca-root, rattlesnake-root,
Habitat and Range--Rocky woods and hillsides are the favorite haunts
of this indigenous plant. It is found in such situations from New
Brunswick and western New England to Minnesota and the Canadian Rocky
Mountains, and south along the Allegheny Mountains to North Carolina
Description of Plant--The perennial root of this useful little plant
sends up a number of smooth, slender, erect stems (as many as 15 to
20 or more), sometimes slightly tinged with red, from 6 inches to a
foot in height, and generally unbranched. The leaves alternate on the
stem, are lance shaped or oblong lance shaped, thin in texture, 1 to
2 inches long, and stemless. The flowering spikes are borne on the
ends of the stems and consist of rather crowded, small, greenish
white, insignificant flowers. The flowering period of Seneca
Snakeroot is from May to June. The spike blossoms gradually, and when
the lower-most flowers have already fruited the upper part of the
spike is still in flower. The seed capsules are small and contain two
black, somewhat hairy seeds. The short slender stalks supporting
these seed capsules have a tendency to break off from the main axis
before the seed is fully mature, leaving the spike in a rather
ragged-looking condition, and the yield of seed, therefore, is not
very large. Seneca Snakeroot belongs to the milkwort family
A form of Seneca Snakeroot, growing mostly in the North Central
States and distinguished by its taller stems and broader leaves, has
been called Polygala Senega Var. Latifolia.
[Illustration: Seneca Snakeroot (Polygala Senega), Flowering Plant
Description of Root--Seneca Snakeroot is described in the United
States Pharmacopoeia as follows: "Somewhat cylindrical, tapering,
more or less flexuous, 3 to 15 cm. long and 2 to 8 mm. thick, bearing
several similar horizontal branches and a few rootlets; crown knotty
with numerous buds and short stem remnants; externally yellowish gray
or brownish yellow, longitudinally wrinkled, usually marked by a keel
which is more prominent in perfectly dry roots near the crown;
fracture short, wood light yellow, usually excentrically developed;
odor slight, nauseating; taste sweetish, afterwards acrid."
The Seneca Snakeroots found in commerce vary greatly in size, that
obtained from the South, which is really the official drug, being
usually light colored and small. The principal supply of Seneca
Snakeroot now comes from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and farther northward,
and this western Seneca Snakeroot has a much larger, darker root,
with a crown or head sometimes measuring 2 or 3 inches across and the
upper part of the root very thick. It is also less twisted and not so
Seneca Snakeroot is often much adulterated with the roots of other
species of Polygala and of other plants.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The time for collecting Seneca Snakeroot
is in autumn. Labor conditions play a great part in the rise and fall
of prices for this drug. It is said that very little Seneca Snakeroot
has been dug in the Northwest during 1906, due to the fact that the
Indians and others who usually engage in this work were so much in
demand as farm hands and railroad laborers, which paid them far
better than the digging of Seneca Snakeroot. Collectors receive from
about 55 to 70 cents a pound for this root.
This drug, first brought into prominence as a cure for snake bite
among the Indians, is now employed as an expectorant, emetic and
diuretic. It is official in the Pharmacopoeia of the United States.
(1) Cypripedium hirsutum Mill and (2) Cypripedium parviflorum Salisb.
Synonym--(1) Cypripedium Pubescens Wild.
Other Common Names--(1) Large yellow lady's-slipper, yellow
lady's-slipper, yellow moccasin-flower, Venus'-shoe, Venus'-cup,
yellow Indian-shoe, American valerian, nerve-root, male nervine,
yellow Noah's-ark, yellows, monkey-flower, umbil-root, yellow umbil;
(2) small yellow lady's-slipper.
Habitat and Range--Both of these native species frequent bogs and wet
places in deep shady woods and thickets. The large yellow
lady's-slipper may be found from Nova Scotia south to Alabama and
west to Nebraska and Missouri. The range for the small yellow
lady's-slipper extends from Newfoundland south along the mountains to
Georgia and west to Missouri, Washington and British Columbia.
Description of Plants--The orchid family (Orchicaceae), to which the
lady's-slipper belong, boasts of many beautiful, showy and curious
species and the lady's-slipper is no exception. There are several
other plants to which the name lady's-slipper has been applied, but
one glance at the peculiar structure of the flowers in the species
under consideration, as shown in the illustration will enable any one
to recognize them as soon as seen.
The particular species of lady's-slipper under consideration in this
article do not differ very materially from each other. Both are
perennials, growing from 1 to about 2 feet in height, with rather
large leaves and with yellow flowers more or less marked with purple,
the main difference being that in hirsutum the flower is larger and
pale yellow, while in parviflorum the flower is small, bright yellow,
and perhaps more prominently striped and spotted with purple. The
stem, leaves and inside of corolla or lip are somewhat hairy in the
large yellow lady's-slipper, but not in the small yellow
lady's-slipper. These hairs are said to be irritating to some people
in whom they cause an eruption of the skin.
[Illustration: Large Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cyrpripedium
The leaves of the Lady's-Slipper vary in size from 2 to 6 inches in
length and from 1 to 3 inches in width, and are broadly oval or
elliptic, sharp pointed, with numerous parallel veins, and sheathing
at the base, somewhat hairy in the large Lady's-Slipper. The solitary
terminal flower, which appears from May to June, is very showy and
curiously formed, the lip being the most prominent part. This lip
looks like a large inflated bay (1 to 2 inches long in the large
Lady's-Slipper), pale yellow or bright yellow in color, variously
striped and blotched with purple. The other parts of the flower are
greenish or yellowish, with purple stripes, and the petals are
Description of Rootstock--The Rootstock is of horizontal growth,
crooked, fleshy and with numerous wavy, fibrous roots. As found in
commerce, the rootstocks are from 1 to 4 inches in length, about an
eighth of an inch in thickness, dark brown, the upper surface showing
numerous round cup-shaped scars, the remains of former annual stems,
and the lower surface thickly covered with wavy, wiry, and brittle
roots, the latter breaking off with a short, white fracture. The odor
is rather heavy and disagreeable and the taste is described as
sweetish, bitter and somewhat pungent.
Collection, Prices and Uses--Both rootstock and roots are used and
these should be collected in autumn, freed from dirt and carefully
dried in the shade. These beautiful plants are becoming rare in many
localities. Sometimes such high priced drugs as golden seal and
senega are found mixed with the lady's-slipper, but as these are more
expensive than the lady's-slipper it is not likely that they are
included with fraudulent intent and they can be readily
distinguished. The prices paid to collectors of this root range from
32 to 35 cents a pound.
The principal use of Lady's-Slipper, which is official in the United
States Pharmacopoeia, is as an antispasmodic and nerve tonic, and it
has been used for the same purposes as valerian.
The facts set forth in the following pages are from American Root
Drugs, a valuable pamphlet issued in 1907 by U. S. Department of
Agriculture--Bureau of Plant Industry--and written by Alice Henkel.
Trillium Erectum L.
Other Common Names: Trillium, red trillium, purple trillium,
ill-scented trillium, birthroot, birthwort, bathwort, bathflower, red
wake-robin, purple wake-robin, ill-scented wake-robin, red-benjamin,
bumblebee-root, daffydown-dilly, dishcloth, Indian balm, Indian
shamrock, nosebleed, squawflower, squawroot, wood-lily, true-love,
orange-blossom. Many of these names are applied also to other species
Habitat and Range--Bethroot is a native plant growing in rich soil in
damp, shady woods from Canada south to Tennessee and Missouri.
Description of Plant--This plant is a perennial belonging to the
lily-of-the-valley family (Convallariaceae). It is a low growing
plant, from about 8 to 16 inches in height, with a rather stout stem,
having three leaves arranged in a whorl near the top. These leaves
are broadly ovate, almost circular in outline, sharp pointed at the
apex and narrowed at the base, 3 to 7 inches long and about as wide,
and practically stemless.
Not only the leaves of this plant, but the flowers and parts of the
flowers are arranged in threes, and this feature will serve to
identify the plant. The solitary terminal flower of Bethroot has
three sepals and three petals, both more or less lance shaped and
spreading, the former greenish, and the petals, which are 1 1/4
inches long and one-half inch wide, are sometimes dark purple, pink,
greenish, or white. The flower has an unpleasant odor. It appears
from April to June and is followed later in the season by an oval,
[Illustration: Bethroot (Trillium Erectum).]
Various other species of Trillium are used in medicine, possessing
properties similar to those of the species under consideration. These
are also very similar in appearance to Trillium Erectum.
Description of Root--Bethroot, as found in the stores, is short and
thick, of a light-brown color externally, whitish or yellowish
inside, somewhat globular or oblong in shape, and covered all around
with numerous pale brown, shriveled rootlets. The top of the root
generally shows a succession of fine circles or rings, and usually
bears the remains of stem bases.
The root has a slight odor, and is at first sweetish and astringent,
followed by a bitter and acrid taste. When chewed it causes a flow of
Collection, Prices and Uses--Bethroot is generally collected toward
the close of summer. The price ranges from 7 to 10 cents a pound.
It was much esteemed as a remedy among the Indians and early
settlers. Its present use is that of an astringent, tonic, and
alterative, and also that of an expectorant.
Veronica Virginia L. (a)
Synonym--Leptandra Virginica (L) Nutt. (a)
Other Common Names--Culver's physic, blackroot, bowman's-root,
Beaumont-root, Brinton-root, tall speedwell, tall veronica,
Habitat and Range--This common indigenous herb is found abundantly in
moist, rich woods, mountain valleys, meadows and thickets from
British Columbia south to Alabama, Missouri and Nebraska.
Description of Plant--Culver's-Root is a tall, slender stemmed
perennial belonging to the figwort family (Scrophulariaceae). It is
from 3 to 7 feet in height, with the leaves arranged around the
simple stems in whorls of three to nine. The leaves are borne on very
short stems, are lance shaped, long pointed at the apex, narrowed at
the base, and sharply toothed, 3 to 6 inches in length and 1 inch or
less in width. The white tube-shaped flowers, with two long
protruding stamens, are produced from June to September and are borne
in several terminal, densely crowded, slender, spikelike heads from 3
to 8 inches long.
(a) Some authors hold that this plant belongs to the genus Leptandra
and that its name should be Leptandra virginica (L.) Nutt. The
Pharmacopoeia is here followed.
[Illustration: Culver's Root (Veronica Virginica), Flowering Top
The flowers, as stated, are usually white, tho the color may vary
from a pink to a bluish or purple and on account of its graceful
spikes of pretty flowers it is often cultivated in gardens as an
ornamental plant. The fruits are small, oblong, compressed,
Description of Rootstock--After they are dried the rootstocks have a
grayish brown appearance on the outside, and the inside is hard and
yellowish, either with a hollow center or a brownish or purplish
pith. When broken the fracture is tough and woody. The rootstock
measures from 4 to 6 inches in length, is rather thick and bent, with
branches resembling the main rootstock. The upper surface has a few
stem scars, and from the sides and underneath numerous coarse,
brittle roots are produced which have the appearance of having been
artificially inserted into the rootstock. Culver's-root has a bitter
and acrid taste, but no odor.
Collection, Price and Uses--The rootstock and roots should be
collected in the fall of the second year. When fresh these have a
faint odor resembling somewhat that of almonds, which is lost in the
drying. The bitter, acrid taste of Culver's-root also becomes less
the longer it is kept, and it is said that it should be kept at least
a year before being used. The price paid to collectors ranges from 6
to 10 cents a pound.
Culver's-root, which is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia,
is used as an alterative, cathartic and in disorders of the liver.
Collinsonia Canadensis L.
Other Common Names--Collinsonia, knob-root, knobgrass, knobweed,
knotroot, horse-balm, horseweed, richweed, richleaf, ox-balm,
Habitat and Range--Stoneroot is found in moist, shady woods from
Maine to Wisconsin, south to Florida and Kansas.
Description of Plant--Like most of the other members of the mint
family (Menthaceae), Stoneroot is aromatic also, the fresh flowering
plant possessing a very pleasant, lemon-like odor. It is a tall
perennial herb, growing as high as 5 feet. The stem is stout, erect,
branched, smooth, or the upper part hairy.
[Illustration: Stoneroot (Collinsonia Canadensis).]
The leaves are opposite, about 3 to 8 inches long, thin, ovate,
pointed at the apex, narrowed or sometimes heart-shaped at the base,
and coarsely toothed; the lower leaves are largest and are borne on
slender stems, while the upper ones are smaller and almost stemless.
Stoneroot is in flower from July to October, producing large, loose,
open terminal panicles or heads of small, pale-yellow lemon-scented
flowers. The flowers have a funnel-shaped 2-lipped corolla, the lower
lip, larger, pendant and fringed, with two very much protruding
Description of Root--Even the fresh root of this plant is very hard.
It is horizontal, large, thick, and woody, and the upper side is
rough and knotty and branched irregularly. The odor of the root is
rather disagreeable, and the taste pungent and spicy. In the fresh
state, as well as when dry, the root is extremely hard, whence the
common name "stoneroot." The dried root is grayish brown externally,
irregularly knotty on the upper surface from the remains of branches
and the scars left by former stems and the lower surface showing a
few thin roots. The inside of the root is hard and whitish.
Collection, Prices and Uses--Stoneroot, which is collected in autumn,
is employed for its tonic, astringent, diuretic and diaphoretic
effects. The price of the root ranges from 2 to 3 1/2 cents a pound.
The leaves are used by country people as an application to bruises.
Corallorhiza Odontorhiza (Wild) Nutt.
Other Common Names--Corallorhiza, crawley, coralroot, small
coralroot, small-flowered coralroot, late coralroot, dragon's-claw,
chickentoe, turkey-claw, feverroot.
Habitat and Range--Rich, shady woods having an abundance of leaf mold
produce this curious little plant. It may be found in such situations
from Maine to Florida, westward to Michigan and Missouri.
Description of Plant--This peculiar native perennial, belonging to
the orchid family (Orchidaceae) is unlike most other plants, being
leafless, and instead of a green stem it has a purplish brown,
sheathed scape, somewhat swollen or bulbous at the base and bearing a
clustered head of purplish flowers 2 to 4 inches long. It does not
grow much taller than about a foot in height.
The flowers, 6 to 20 in a head, appear from July to September, and
consist of lance-shaped sepals and petals, striped with purple and a
broad, whitish, oval lip, generally marked with purple and narrowed
at the base. The seed capsule is large oblong, or some what globular.
[Illustration: Crawley-root (Corallorhiza Odontorhiza).]
Description of Rootstock--The rootstock of this plant is also
curious, resembling in its formation a piece of coral on account of
which it is known by the name of "coralroot." The other common names,
such as chickentoe, turkey-claw, etc., all have reference to the form
of the rootstock. As found in commerce, Crawley-root consists of
small, dark-brown wrinkled pieces, the larger ones branched like
coral. The taste at first is sweetish, becoming afterwards slightly
bitter. It has a peculiar odor when fresh, but when dry it is without
Collection, Prices and Uses--Crawley-root should be collected in July
or August The price ranges from 20 to 50 cents a pound. Other species
of Corallorhiza are sometimes collected and are said to probably
possess similar properties. This root is aid to be very effective for
promoting perspiration and it is also used as a sedative and in
Pharmacopoeial Name--Aspidium. Other Common Names: (1) Male
shield-fern, sweet brake, knotty brake, basket-fern, bear's-paw
root; (2) marginal-fruited shield-fern, evergreen wood-fern.
Habitat and Range--These ferns are found in rocky woods, the
male shield-fern inhabiting the region from Canada westward to the
Rocky Mountains and Arizona. It is widely distributed also through
Europe, northern Asia, northern Africa, and South America. The
marginal-fruited shield-fern, one of our most common ferns, occurs
from Canada southward to Alabama and Arkansas.
Description of Plants--Both of these species are tall, handsome
ferns, the long, erect fronds, or leaves, arising from a chaffy,
scaly base, and consisting of numerous crowded stemless leaflets,
which are variously divided and notched. There is but little
difference between these two species. The male shield-fern is perhaps
a trifle stouter, the leaves growing about 3 feet in length and
having a bright-green color, whereas the marginal-fruited shield-fern
has lighter green leaves, about 2 1/2 feet in length, and is of more
slender appearance. The principal difference, however, is found in
the arrangement of the "sori," or "fruit dots," These are the very
small, round, tawny dots that are found on the backs of fern leaves,
and in the male shield-fern these will be found arranged in short
rows near the midrib, while in the marginal-fruited shield-fern, as
this name indicates, the fruit dots are placed on the margins of the
fronds. Both plants are perennials and members of the fern family
[Illustration: Marginal-Fruited Shield-Fern (Dryopteris
Description of the Rootstock--These ferns have stout ascending or
erect chaffy rootstocks, or rhizomes as they are technically known.
As taken from the ground the rootstock is from 6 to 12 inches in
length and 1 to 2 inches thick, covered with closely overlapping,
brown, slightly curved stipe bases or leaf bases and soft, brown,
chaffy scales. The inside of the rootstock is pale green. As found in
the stores, however, male-fern with the stipe bases and roots removed
measure about 3 to 6 inches in length and about one-half to 1 inch in
thickness, rough where the stipe bases have been removed, brown
outside, pale green and rather spongy inside.
The stipe bases remain green for a very long period, and these small,
claw-shaped furrowed portions, or "fingers" as they are called, form
a large proportion of the drug found on the American market and, in
fact, are said to have largely superseded the rootstock. Male-fern
has a disagreeable odor, and the taste is described as bitter-sweet,
astringent, acrid, and nauseous.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The best time for collecting Male-fern
root is from July to September. The root should be carefully cleaned,
but not washed, dried out of doors in the shade as quickly as
possible, and shipped to druggists at once. The United States
Pharmacopoeia directs that "the chaff, together with the dead
portions of the rhizome and stipes, should be removed, and only such
portions used as have retained their internal green color."
Great care is necessary in the preservation of this drug in order to
prevent it from deteriorating. If kept too long its activity will be
impaired, and it is said that it will retain its qualities much
longer if it is not peeled until required for use. The unreliability
sometimes attributed to this drug can in most instances be traced to
the presence of the rootstocks of other ferns with which it is often
adulterated, or it will be found to be due to improper storing or to
the length of time that it has been kept.
The prices paid for Male-fern root range from 5 to 10 cents a pound.
Male-fern, official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, has been used
since the remotest times as a remedy for worms.
Grave results are sometimes caused by overdoses.
Coptis Trifolia (L.) Salisb.
Other Common Names--Coptis, cankerroot, mouthroot, yellowroot.
Habitat and Range--This pretty little perennial is native in damp,
mossy woods and bogs from Canada and Alaska south of Maryland and
Minnesota. It is most common in the New England States, northern New
York and Michigan, and in Canada, where it frequents the dark
sphagnum swamps, cold bogs and in the shade of dense forests of
cedars, pines and other evergreens.
[Illustration: Goldthread (Coptis Trifolia).]
Description of Plant--Any one familiar with this attractive little
plant will agree that it is well named. The roots of Goldthread,
running not far beneath the surface of the ground, are indeed like so
many tangled threads of gold. The plant in the general appearance of
its leaves and flowers very closely resembles the strawberry plant.
It is of low growth, only 3 to 6 inches in height, and belongs to the
crowfoot family (Ranunculaceae). The leaves are all basal, and are
borne on long, slender stems; they are evergreen, dark green and
shining on the upper surface and lighter green beneath, divided into
three parts, which are prominently veined and toothed. A single
small, white, star-shaped flower is borne at the ends of the
flowering stalks, appearing from May to August. The 5 to 7 sepals or
lobes of the calyx are white and like petals, and the petals of the
corolla, 5 to 7 in number, are smaller, club shaped, and yellow at
the base. The seed pods are stalked, oblong, compressed, spreading,
tipped with persistent style and containing small black seeds.
Description of Root--Goldthread has a long, slender, creeping root,
which is much branched and frequently matted. The color of these
roots is a bright golden yellow. As found in the stores, Goldthread
consists usually of tangled masses of these golden-yellow roots,
mixed with the leaves and stems of the plant, but the root is the
part prescribed for use. The root is bitter and has no odor.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The time for collecting Goldthread is in
autumn. After removing the covering of dead leaves and moss, the
creeping yellow roots of Goldthread will be seen very close to the
surface of the ground, from which they can be easily pulled. They
should, of course, be carefully dried. As already stated, altho the
roots and rootlets are the parts to be used, the commercial article
is freely mixed with the leaves and stems of the plant. Evidences of
the pine-woods home of this plant, in the form of pine needles and
bits of moss, are often seen in the Goldthread received for market.
Goldthread brings from 60 to 70 cents a pound.
The Indians and early white settlers used this little root as a
remedy for various forms of ulcerated and sore mouth, and it is still
used as a wash or gargle for affections of this sort. It is also
employed as a bitter tonic.
Goldthread was official in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1820
Jeffersonia Diphylla (L.) Pers.
Other Common Names--Jeffersonia, rheumatism-root, helmetpod,
ground-squirrel pea, yellowroot.
Habitat and Range--Twinleaf inhabits rich, shady woods from New York
to Virginia and westward to Wisconsin.
Description of Plant--This native herbaceous perennial is only about
6 to 8 inches in height when in flower. At the fruiting stage it is
frequently 18 inches in height. It is one of our early spring plants,
and its white flower, resembling that of bloodroot, is produced as
early as April.
[Illustration: Twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla), Plant and Seed
The long-stemmed, smooth leaves, produced in pairs and arising from
the base of the plant, are rather oddly formed. They are about 3 to 6
inches long, 2 to 4 inches wide, heart shaped or kidney shaped, but
parted lengthwise into two lobes or divisions, really giving the
appearance of two leaves; hence the common name "Twinleaf." The
flower with its eight oblong, spreading white petals measures about 1
inch across, and is borne at the summit of a slender stalk arising
from the root. The many-seeded capsule is about 1 inch long,
leathery, somewhat pear shaped, and opening half way around near the
top, the upper part forming a sort of lid. Twinleaf belongs to the
barberry family. (Berberidaceae.)
Description of Rootstock--Twinleaf has a horizontal rootstock, with
many fibrous, much-matted roots, and is very similar to that of blue
cohosh, but not so long. It is thick, knotty, yellowish brown
externally, with a resinous bark, and internally yellowish. The inner
portion is nearly tasteless, but the bark has a bitter and acrid
Collection, Prices and Uses--The rootstock is collected in autumn and
is used as a diuretic, alterative, antispasmodic and a stimulating
diaphoretic. Large doses are said to be emetic and smaller doses
tonic and expectorant. The price paid for Twinleaf root ranges from
about 5 to 7 cents a pound.
Menispermum Canadense L.
Other Common Names--Menispermum, yellow parilla, Texas sarsaparilla,
yellow sarsarparilla, vine-maple.
Habitat and Range--Canada Moonseed is usually found along streams in
woods, climbing over bushes, its range extending from Canada to
Georgia and Arkansas.
[Illustration: Canada Moonseed (Menispermum Canadense).]
Description of Plant--This native perennial woody climber reaches a
length of from 6 to 12 feet, the round, rather slender stem bearing
very broad, slender-stalked leaves. These leaves are from 4 to 8
inches wide, smooth and green on the upper surface and paler beneath,
roundish in outline and entire, or sometimes lobed and resembling the
leaves of some of our maples, whence the common name "vine-maple" is
probably derived. The bases of the leaves are generally heart shaped
and the apex pointed or blunt. In July the loose clusters of small,
yellowish or greenish white flowers are produced, followed in
September by bunches of black one-seeded fruit, covered with a
"bloom" and very much resembling grapes. Canada Moonseed belongs to
the moonseed family (Menispermaceae.)
Description of Rootstock--The rootstock and roots are employed in
medicine. In the stores it will be found in long, straight pieces,
sometimes 3 feet in length, only about one-fourth of an inch in
thickness, yellowish brown or grayish brown, finely wrinkled
lengthwise, and giving off fine, hairlike, branched, brownish roots
from joints which occur every inch or so. The inside shows a distinct
white pith of variable thickness and a yellowish white wood with
broad, porous wood rays, the whole breaking with a tough, woody
fracture. It has practically no odor, but a bitter taste.
Collection, Prices and Uses--Canada Moonseed is collected in autumn
and brings from 4 to 8 cents a pound. It is used as a tonic,
alterative, and diuretic and was official in the United States
Pharmacopoeia for 1890.
Synonym--Arum Triphyllum L.
Other Common Names--Arum, three-leaved arum, Indian turnip,
jack-in-the-pulpit, wake robin, wild pepper, dragon-turnip, brown
dragon, devil's-ear, marsh-turnip, swamp-turnip, meadow-turnip,
pepper-turnip, starch-wort, bog-onion, priest's-pintle and
Habitat and Range--Wild Turnip inhabits moist woods from Canada to
Florida and westward to Kansas and Minnesota.
Description of Plant--Early in April the quaint green and brownish
purple hooded flowers of the wild turnip may be seen in the shady
depths of the woods.
[Illustration: Wild Turnip (Arisaema Triphyllum).]
It is a perennial plant belonging to the arum family (Araceae), and
reaches a height of from 10 inches to 3 feet. The leaves, of which
there are only one or two, unfold with the flowers; they are borne on
long, erect, sheathing stalks, and consist of three smooth, oval
leaflets, the latter are 3 to 6 inches long, and from 1 1/2 to 3 1/2
inches wide, net veined, and with one vein running parallel with the
margins. The "flower" is curiously formed, somewhat like the calla
lily, consisting of what is known botanically as a spathe, within
which is inclosed the spadix. The spathe is an oval, leaflike part,
the lower portion of which, in the flower under consideration, is
rolled together so as to form a tube, while the upper, pointed part
is usually bent forward, thus forming a flap of hood over the tube
shaped part which contains the spadix. In fact it is very similar to
the familiar flower of the calla lily of the gardens, except that,
instead of being white, the wild turnip is either all green or
striped with very dark purple, sometimes seeming almost black, and in
the calla lily the "flap" is turned back, whereas in the wild turnip
it is bent forward over the tube. Inside of the spathe is the spadix,
also green or purple, which is club shaped, rounded at the summit,
and narrowly contracted at the base, where it is surrounded by either
the male or female flowers or both, in the latter case (the most
infrequent) the male flowers being placed below the female flowers.
In autumn the fruit ripens in the form of a bunch of bright scarlet,
shining berries. The entire plant is acrid, but the root more
Description of the Root--The underground portion of this plant is
known botanically as a "corm," and is somewhat globular and shaped
like a turnip. The lower part of the corm is flat and wrinkled, while
the upper part is surrounded by coarse, wavy rootlets. The outside is
brownish gray and the inside white and mealy. It has no odor, but an
intensely acrid, burning taste, and to those who may have been
induced in their school days to taste of this root wild turnip will
be familiar chiefly on account of its never-to-be-forgotten acrid,
indeed, caustic, properties. The dried article of commerce consists
of round, white slices, with brown edges, only slightly shrunken, and
breaking with a starchy fracture.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The partially dried corm is used in
medicine. It is dug in summer, transversely sliced, and dried. When
first dug it is intensely acrid, but drying and heat diminish the
acridity. It loses its acridity rapidly with age. Wild Turnip brings
from 7 to 10 cents a pound.
The corm of Wild turnip, which was official in the United States
Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1870, is used as a stimulant, diaphoretic,
expectorant, and irritant.
Black Indian Hemp.
Apocynum Cannabinum L.
Other Common Names--Canadian hemp, American hemp, amy-root,
bowman's-root, bitterroot, Indian-physic, rheumatism-weed, milkweed,
wild cotton, Choctaw-root.
The name "Indian hemp" is often applied to this plant, but it should
never be used without the adjective "black." "Indian hemp" is a name
that properly belongs to Canabis indica, a true hemp plant, from
which the narcotic drug "hashish" is obtained.
Habitat and Range--Black Indian hemp is a native of this country and
may be found in thickets and along the borders of old fields thruout
the United States.
Description of Plant--This is a common herbaceous perennial about 2
to 4 feet high, with erect or ascending branches, and, like most of
the plants belonging to the dogbane family (Apocynaceae), contains a
milky juice. The short-stemmed opposite leaves are oblong, lance
shaped oblong or ovate-oblong, about 2 to 6 inches long, usually
sharp pointed, the upper surface smooth and the lower sometimes
hairy. The plant is in flower from June to August and the small
greenish white flowers are borne in dense heads, followed later by
the slender pods, which are about 4 inches in length and pointed at
Other Species--Considerable confusion seems to exist in regard to
which species yields the root which has proved of greatest value
medicinally. The Pharmacopoeia directs that "the dried rhizome and
roots of Apocynum cannabinum or of closely allied species of
Apocynum" be used.
[Illustration: Black Indian Hemp (Apocynum Cannabinum), Flowering
Portion, Pods, and Rootstock.]
In the older botanical works and medical herbals only two species of
Apocynum were recognized, namely, A. cannabinum L. and A.
androsaemifolium L., altho it was known that both of these were very
variable. In the newer botanical manuals both of these species still
hold good, but the different forms and variations are now recognized
as distinct species, those formerly referred to cannabium being
distinguished by the erect or nearly erect lobes of the corolla, and
those of the androsaemifolium group being distinguished by the
spreading or recurved lobes of the corolla.
Among the plants that were formerly collected as Apocynum or varietal
forms of it, and which are now considered as distinct species, may be
mentioned in the following:
Riverbank-dogbane (A. Album Greene), which frequents the banks of
rivers and similar moist locations from Maine to Wisconsin, Virginia
and Missouri. This plant is perfectly smooth and has white flowers
and relatively smaller leaves than A. cannabinum.
Velvet dogbane (A. pubescens R. Br.), which is common from Virginia
to Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. The entire plant has a soft, hairy or
velvety appearance, which renders identification easy. According to
the latest edition of the National Standard Dispensatory it is not
unlikely that this is the plant that furnishes the drug that has been
so favorably reported upon.
Apocynum androsaemifolium is also gathered by drug collectors for
Apocynum cannabinum. Its root is likewise employed in medicine, but
its action is not the same as that of cannabinum and it should
therefore not be substituted for it. It closely resembles cannabinum.
Description of Rootstock--The following description of the drug as
found in commerce is taken from the United States Pharmacopoeia: "Of
varying length, 3 to 8 mm. thick, cylindrical or with a few angles
produced by drying, lightly wrinkled, longitudinally and usually more
or less fissured transversely; orange-brown, becoming gray-brown on
keeping; brittle; fracture sharply transverse, exhibiting a thin
brown layer of cork, the remainder of the bark nearly as thick as the
radius of the wood, white or sometimes pinkish, starchy, containing
laticiferous ducts; the wood yellowish, having several rings, finely
radiate and very coarsely porous; almost inodorous, the taste
starchy, afterwards becoming bitter and somewhat acrid."
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root of black Indian hemp is
collected in autumn and brings from 8 to 10 cents a pound.
It is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia and has emetic,
cathartic, diaphoretic, expectorant and diuretic properties, and on
account of the last-named action it is used in dropsical affections.
The tough, fibrous bark of the stalks of Black Indian Hemp was
employed by the Indians as a substitute for hemp in making twine,
fishing nets, etc.
Chamaelirium, or Helonias.
Chamaelirium Luteum (L.) A. Gray.
Synonym--Helonias Dioica Pursh.
Other Common Names--Unicorn root, false unicorn-root, blazing star,
drooping starwort, starwort, devil's-bit, unicorn's-horn.
In order to avoid the existing confusion of common names of this
plant, it is most desirable to use the scientific names Chamaelirium
or Helonias exclusively. Chamaelirium is the most recent botanical
designation and will be used thruout this article, but the synonym
Helonias is a name very frequently employed by the drug trade. The
plant with which it is so much confused, Aletris farinosa, will also
be designated thruout by its generic name, Aletris.
[Illustration: Chamaelirium (Chamaelirium Luteum).]
Habitat and Range--This native plant is found in open woods from
Massachusetts to Michigan, south to Florida and Arkansas.
Description of Plant--Chamaelirium and Aletris (Aletris farinosa)
have long been confused by drug collectors and others, owing
undoubtedly to the transposition of some of their similar common
names, such as "starwort" and "stargrass." The plants can scarcely be
said to resemble each other, however, except perhaps in their general
habit of growth.
The male and female flowers of Chamaelirium are borne on separate
plants, and in this respect are entirely different from Aletris;
neither do the flowers resemble those of Aletris.
Chamaelirium is an erect, somewhat fleshy herb, perennial, and
belongs to the bunchflower family (Melanthiaceae.) The male plant
grows to a height of from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet, and the female plant
is sometimes 4 feet tall and is also more leafy.
The plants have both basal and stem leaves, where as Aletris has only
the basal leaves. The basal leaves of Chamaelirium are broad and
blunt at the top, narrowing toward the base into a long stem; they
are sometimes so much broadened at the top that they may be
characterized as spoon shaped, and are from 2 to 8 inches long and
from one-half to 1 1/2 inches wide. The stem leaves are lance shaped
and sharp pointed, on short stems or stemless.
The white starry flowers of Chamaelirium are produced from June to
July, those of the male plant being borne in nodding, graceful,
plume-like spikes 3 to 9 inches long, and those of the female plant
in erect spikes. The many seeded capsule is oblong, opening by three
valves at the apex.
Another species is now recognized, Chamaelirium obovale Small, which
seems to differ chiefly in having larger flowers and obovoid
Description of Rootstock--The rootstock of Chamaelirium does not in
the least resemble that of Aletris, with which it is so generally
confused. It is from one-half to 2 inches in length, generally curved
upward at one end in the form of a horn (whence the common name,
"unicorn") and having the appearance of having been bitten off. It is
of a dark brown color with fine transverse wrinkles, rough, on the
upper surface showing a few stem scars, and giving off from all sides
numerous brown fibrous rootlets. The more recent rootlets have a soft
outer covering, which in the older rootlets has worn away, leaving
the fine but tough and woody whitish center. The rootlets penetrate
to the central part of the rootstock, and this serves as a
distinguishing character from Aletris, as a transverse section of
Chamaelirium very plainly shows these fibers extending some distance
within the rootstock. Furthermore, the rootstock of Chamaelirium
exhibits a number of small holes wherever these rootlets have broken
off, giving it the appearance of having become "wormy." It is hard
and horny within and has a peculiar odor and a very bitter,
disagreeable taste, whereas Aletris is not at all bitter.
Collection, Prices and Uses--Chamaelirium should be collected in
autumn. The prices paid to collectors may be said to range from about
30 to 45 cents a pound. In the fall of 1906 a scarcity of this root
was reported. As already indicated, Chamaelirium and Aletris are
often gathered and mistaken for each other by collectors, but, as
will be seen from the preceding description, there is really no
excuse for such error.
From the confusion that has existed properties peculiar to the one
plant have also been attributed to the other, but it seems now
generally agreed that Chamaelirium is of use especially in
derangements of women.
Dioscorea Villosa L.
Other Common Names--Dioscorea, colicroot, rheumatism-root, devil's
Habitat and Range--Wild yam grows in moist thickets, trailing over
adjacent shrubs and bushes, its range extending from Rhode Island to
Minnesota, south to Florida and Texas. It is most common in the
central and southern portions of the United States.
Description of Plant--This native perennial vine is similar to and
belongs to the same family as the well-known cinnamon vine of the
gardens--namely, the yam family (Dioscoreaceae.) It attains a length
of about 15 feet, the stem smooth, the leaves heart shaped and 2 to 6
inches long by 1 to 4 inches wide.
[Illustration: Wild Yam (Dioscorea Villosa).]
The leaves, which are borne on long, slender stems, are thin, green,
and smooth on the upper surface, paler and rather thickly hairy on
the under surface. The small greenish yellow flowers are produced
from June to July, the male flowers borne in drooping clusters about
3 to 6 inches long, and the female flowers in drooping spikelike
heads. The fruit, which is in the form of a dry, membranous,
3-winged, yellowish green capsule, ripens about September and remains
on the vine for some time during the winter.
Growing farther south than the species above mentioned is a variety
for which the name Glabra has been suggested.
According to C. G. Lloyd, there is a variety of Dioscorea Villosa,
the root of which first made its appearance among the true yam roots
of commerce, and which was so different in form that it was rejected
as an adulteration. The plant, however, from which the false root was
derived was found upon investigation to be almost identical with the
true yam, except that the leaves were perfectly smooth, lacking the
hairiness on the under surface of the leaf which is characteristic of
the true wild yam. The false variety also differs in its habit of
growth, not growing in dense clumps like the true wild yam, but
generally isolated. The root of the variety, however, is quite
distinct from that of the true wild yam, being much more knotty.
Lloyd states further that the hairiness or lack of hairiness on the
under side of the leaf is a certain indication as to the form of the
Lloyd, recognizing the necessity of classifying these two yam roots
of commerce, has designated the smooth-leaved variety as Dioscorea
Villosa var. Glabra.
Description of Rootstocks--The rootstock of the true wild yam runs
horizontally underneath the surface of the ground. As found in
commerce, it consists of very hard pieces, 6 inches and sometimes 2
feet in length, but only about one-fourth or one-half of an inch in
diameter, twisted, covered with a thin, brown bark, whitish within
and showing stem scars almost an inch apart on the upper surface,
small protuberances on the sides, and numerous rather wiry rootlets
on the lower surface.
The false wild yam, on the other hand, has a much heavier, rough,
knotty rootstock, with thick branches from 1 inch to 3 inches long,
the upper surface covered with crowded stem scars and the lower side
furnished with stout, wiry rootlets. Within it is similar to the true
Collection, Prices and Uses--The roots are generally collected in
autumn, and bring from 2 1/2 to 4 cents a pound. Wild Yam is said to
possess expectorant properties and to promote perspiration, and in
large doses providing emetic. It has been employed in bilious colic,
and by the negroes in the South in the treatment of muscular
Synonyms--Dracontium Foetidum L.
Other Common Names--Dracontium, skunk-weed, polecat-weed,
swamp-cabbage, meadow-cabbage, collard, fetid, hellebone, stinking
Habitat and Range--Swamps and other wet places from Canada to
Florida, Iowa and Minnesota abound with this ill-smelling herb.
Description of Plant--Most of the common names applied to this plant,
as well as the scientific names, are indicative of the most striking
characteristic of this early spring visitor, namely, the rank,
offensive, carrion odor that emanates from it. Skunk-Cabbage is one
of the very earliest of our spring flowers, appearing in February or
March, but it is safe to say that it is not likely to suffer
extermination at the hand of the enthusiastic gatherer of spring
flowers. In the latitude of Washington Skunk-Cabbage has been known
to be in flower in December.
It is a curious plant, with its hood shaped, purplish striped flowers
appearing before the leaves. It belongs to the arum family (Araceae)
and is a perennial. The "flower" is in the form of a thick, ovate,
swollen spathe, about 3 to 6 inches in height, the top pointed and
curved inward, spotted and striped with purple and yellowish green.
The spathe is not like that of the wild turnip or calla lily, to
which family this plant also belongs, but the edges are rolled
inward, completely hiding the spadix. In this plant the spadix is not
spike-like, as in the wild turnip, but is generally somewhat
globular, entirely covered with numerous, dull-purple flowers. After
the fruit has ripened the spadix will be found to have grown
considerably, the spathe meantime having decayed.
The leaves, which appear after the flower, are numerous and very
large, about 1 to 3 feet in length and about 1 foot in width; they
are thin in texture, but prominently nerved with fleshy nerves, and
are borne on deeply channeled stems.
[Illustration: Skunk Cabbage (Spathyema Foetida).]
Description of Rootstock--Skunk-Cabbage has a thick, straight,
reddish brown rootstock, from 3 to 5 inches long, and about 2 inches
in diameter, and having a whorl of crowded fleshy roots which
penetrate the soil to considerable depth. The dried article of
commerce consists of either the entire rootstock and roots, which are
dark brown and wrinkled within, or of very much compressed, wrinkled,
When bruised, the root has the characteristic fetid odor of the plant
and possesses a sharp acrid taste, both of which become less the
longer the root is kept.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The rootstock of Skunk-Cabbage are
collected early in spring, soon after the appearance of the flower,
or after the seeds have ripened, in August or September. It should be
carefully dried, either in its entire state or deprived of the roots
and cut into transverse slices. Skunk-Cabbage loses its odor and
acridity with age, and should therefore not be kept longer than one
season. The range of prices is from 4 to 7 cents a pound.
Skunk-Cabbage, official from 1820 to 1880, is used in affections of
the respiratory organs, in nervous disorders, rheumatism, and
Veratrum Viride Ait.
Other Common Names--True veratrum, green veratrum, American veratrum,
green hellebore, swamp-hellebore, big hellebore, false hellebore,
bear-corn, bugbane, bugwort, devil's-bite, earth-gall, Indian poke,
itchweed, tickleweed, duckretter.
Habitat and Range--American Hellebore is native in rich, wet woods,
swamps and wet meadows. Its range extending from Canada, Alaska, and
Minnesota south to Georgia.
Description of Plant--Early in spring, usually in company with the
Skunk-Cabbage, the large bright green leaves of American Hellebore
make their way thru the soil, their straight, erect leaf spears
forming a conspicuous feature of the yet scanty spring vegetation.
Later in the season a stout and erect leafy stem is sent up,
sometimes growing as tall as 6 feet. It is solid and round, pale
green, very leafy, and closely surrounded by the sheathing bases of
the leaves, unbranched except in the flowering head. The leaves are
hairy, prominently nerved, folded or pleated like a fan. They have no
stems, but their bases encircle or sheathe the main stalk, and are
very large, especially the lower ones, which are from 6 to 12 inches
in length, from 3 to 6 inches in width, and broadly oval. As they
approach the top of the plant the leaves become narrower. The
flowers, which appear from May to July, are greenish yellow and
numerous, and are borne in rather open clusters. American Hellebore
belongs to the bunchflower family (Melanthiaceae) and is a perennial.
This species is a very near relative of the European white hellebore
(Veratrum album L.), and in fact has by some been regarded as
identical with it, or at least as a variety of it. It is taller than
V. album and has narrower leaves and greener flowers. Both species
are official in the United States Pharmacopoeia.
[Illustration: American Hellebore (Veratrum Viride).]
Description of Rootstock--The fresh rootstock of American Hellebore
is ovoid or obconical, upright, thick, and fleshy, the upper part of
it arranged in layers, the lower part of it more solid, and producing
numerous whitish roots from all sides. In the fresh state it has a
rather strong, disagreeable odor. As found in commerce, American
Hellebore rootstock is sometimes entire, but more generally sliced,
and is of a light brown or dark brown color externally and internally
yellowish white. The roots, which are from 4 to 8 inches long, have a
shriveled appearance, and are brown or yellowish. There is no odor to
the dried rootstock, but when powdered it causes violent sneezing.
The rootstock, which has a bitter and very acrid taste, is poisonous.
Collection, Prices and Uses--American Hellebore should be dug in
autumn after the leaves have died and washed and carefully dried,
either in the whole state or sliced in various ways. It deteriorates
with age, and should therefore not be kept longer than a year.
The adulterations sometimes met with are the rootstocks of related
plants, and the skunk-cabbage is also occasionally found mixed with
it, but this is probably unintentional, as the two plants usually
grow close together.
Collectors of American Hellebore root receive from about 3 to 10
cents a pound.
American Hellebore, official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, is
an acrid, narcotic poison, and has emetic, diaphoretic, and sedative
Eryngium Yuccifolium Michx.
Synonym--Eryngium aquaticum. L.
Other Common Names--Eryngium, eryngo, button-snakeroot,
corn-snakeroot, rattlesnake-master, rattlesnake-weed,
[Illustration: Water-Eryngo (Eryngium Yuccifolium).]
Habitat and Range--Altho sometimes occurring on dry land,
Water-Eryngo usually inhabits swamps and low, wet ground, from the
pine barrens of New Jersey westward to Minnesota and south to Texas
Description of Plant--The leaves of this plant are grasslike in form,
rigid, 1 to 2 feet long and about one-half inch or a trifle more in
width; they are linear, with parallel veins, pointed, generally
clasping at the base, and the margins briskly soft, slender spines.
The stout, furrowed stem reaches a height of from 2 to 6 feet and is
generally unbranched except near the top. The insignificant whitish
flowers are borne in dense, ovate-globular, stout-stemmed heads,
appearing from June to September, and the seed heads that follow are
ovate and scaly. Water-Eryngo belongs to the parsley family
(Apiaceae) and is native in this country.
Description of Rootstock--The stout rootstock is very knotty, with
numerous short branches, and produces many thick, rather straight
roots, both rootstock and roots of a dark brown color, the latter
wrinkled lengthwise. The inside of the rootstock is yellowish white.
Water-Eryngo has a somewhat peculiar, slightly aromatic odor, and a
sweetish mucilaginous taste at first, followed by some bitterness and
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root of this plant is collected in
autumn and brings from 5 to 10 cents a pound.
Water-Eryngo is an old remedy and one of its early uses, as the
several common names indicate, was for the treatment of snake bites.
It was official in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1860,
and is employed now as a diuretic and expectorant and for promoting
perspiration. In large doses it acts as an emetic and the root, when
chewed, excites a flow of saliva. It is said to resemble Seneca
snakeroot in action.
Yellow Jasmine or Jessamine.
Gelsemium Sempervirens (L.) Ait. f.
Other Common Names--Carolina jasmine or jessamine, Carolina wild
woodbine, evening trumpet-flower.
Habitat and Range--Yellow jasmine is a plant native to the South,
found along the banks of streams, in woods, lowlands, and thickets,
generally near the coast, from the eastern part of Virginia to
Florida and Texas, south to Mexico and Guatemala.
Description of Plant--This highly ornamental climbing or trailing
plant is abundantly met with in the woods of the Southern states, its
slender stems festooned over trees and fences and making its presence
known by the delightful perfume exhaled by its flowers, filling the
air with fragrance that is almost overpowering wherever the yellow
jasmine is very abundant.
[Illustration: Yellow Jasmine (Gelsensium Sempervirens).]
The smooth, shining stems of this beautiful vine sometimes reach a
length of 20 feet. The leaves are evergreen, lance shaped, entire, 1
1/2 to 3 inches long, rather narrow, borne on short stems, and
generally remaining on the vine during the winter. The flowers, which
appear from January to April, are bright yellow, about 1 to 1 1/2
inches long, the corolla funnel shaped. They are very fragrant but
poisonous, and it is stated the eating of honey derived from jasmine
flowers has brought about fatal results.
Yellow Jasmine is a perennial and belongs to a family that is noted
for its poisonous properties, namely, the Logania family
(Loganiaceae), which numbers among its members such powerful
poisonous agents as the strychnine-producing tree.
Description of Rootstock--The rootstock of the Yellow Jasmine is
horizontal and runs near the surface of the ground, attaining great
length, 15 feet or more; it is branched, and here and there produces
fibrous rootlets. When freshly removed from the ground it is very
yellow, with a peculiar odor and bitter taste. For the drug trade it
is generally cut into pieces varying from 1 inch to 6 inches in
length, and when dried consists of cylindrical sections about 1 inch
in thickness, the roots, of course, thinner. The bark is thin,
yellowish brown, with fine silky bast fibers and the wood is tough
and pale yellow, breaking with a splintery fracture and showing
numerous fine rays radiating from a small central pith. Yellow
Jasmine has a bitter taste and a pronounced heavy odor.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root of Yellow Jasmine is usually
collected just after the plant has come into flower and is cut into
pieces from 1 to 6 inches long. It is often adulterated with portions
of the stems, but these can be distinguished by their thinness and
dark purplish color. The prices range from 3 to 5 cents a pound.
Yellow Jasmine, which is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia,
is used for its powerful effect on the nervous system.
Acorus Calamus L.
Other Common Names--Sweet cane, sweet grass, sweet myrtle, sweet
rush, sweet sedge, sweet segg, sweetroot, cinnamon-sedge,
myrtle-flag, myrtle-grass, myrtle-sedge, beewort.
Habitat and Range--This plant frequents wet and muddy places and
borders on streams from Nova Scotia to Minnesota, southward to
Florida and Texas, also occurring in Europe and Asia. It is usually
partly immersed in water, and is generally found in company with the
cat-tail and other water-loving species of flag.
[Illustration: Sweet Flag (Acorus Calamus).]
Description of Plant--The sword like leaves of the Sweet-Flag
resemble those of other flags so much that before the plant is in
flower it is difficult to recognize simply by the appearance of its
leaves. The leaves of the blue flag or "poison-flag," as it has been
called, are very similar to those of the Sweet-Flag, and this
resemblance often leads to cases of poisoning among children who thus
mistake one for the other. However, as the leaves of the Sweet-Flag
are fragrant, the odor will be a means of recognizing it. Of course
when the Sweet-Flag is in flower the identification of the plant is
The sheathing leaves of this native perennial, which belongs to the
arum family (Araceae), are from 2 to 6 feet in height and about 1
inch in width; they are sharp pointed and have a ridged midrib
running their entire length. The flowering head, produced from the
side of the stalk, consists of a fleshy spike sometimes 3 1/2 inches
long and about one-half inch in thickness, closely covered with very
small, greenish yellow flowers, which appear from May to July.
Description of Rootstock--The long, creeping rootstock of the
Sweet-Flag is thick and fleshy, somewhat spongy, and producing
numerous rootlets. The odor is aromatic and agreeable, and taste
pungent and bitter. The dried article, as found in the stores,
consists of entire or split pieces of various lengths from 3 to 6
inches, light brown on the outside with blackish spots, sharply
wrinkled lengthwise, the upper surface marked obliquely with dark
leaf scars, and the lower surface showing many small circular scars,
which, at first glance, give one the impression that the root is
worm-eaten, but which are the remains of rootlets that have been
removed from the rootstock. Internally the rootstock is whitish and
of a spongy texture. The aromatic odor and pungent, bitter taste are
retained in the dried article.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The United States Pharmacopoeia directs
that the unpeeled rhizome, or rootstock, be used. It is collected
either in early spring or late in autumn. It is pulled or grubbed
from the soft earth, freed from adhering dirt, and the rootlets
removed, as these are not so aromatic and more bitter. The rootstock
is then carefully dried, sometimes by means of moderate heat.
Sweet-Flag deteriorates with age and is subject to the attacks of
worms. It loses about three-fourths of its weight in drying.
Some of the Sweet-Flag found in commerce consists of handsome white
pieces. These usually come from Germany, and have been peeled before
drying, but they are not so strong and aromatic as the unpeeled
roots. Unpeeled Sweet-Flag brings from 3 to 6 cents a pound.
Sweet-Flag is employed as an aromatic stimulant and tonic in feeble
digestion. The dried root is frequently chewed for the relief of
Iris Versicolor L.
Other Common Names--Iris, flag-lily, liver-lily, snake-lily,
poison-flag, water-flag, American fleur-de-lis or flower-deluce.
Habitat and Range--Blue Flag delights in wet, swampy localities,
making its home in marshes, thickets, and wet meadows from
Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to Florida and Arkansas.
Description of Plant--The flowers of all of the species belonging to
this genus are similar, and are readily recognized by their rather
peculiar form, the three outer segments or parts reflexed or turned
back and the three inner segments standing erect.
Blue Flag is about 2 to 3 feet in height, with an erect stem
sometimes branched near the top, and sword shaped leaves which are
shorter than the stem, from one-half to 1 inch in width, showing a
slight grayish "bloom" and sheathing at the base. This plant is a
perennial belonging to the iris family (Iridaceae), and is a native
of this country. June is generally regarded as the month for the
flowering of the Blue Flag, altho it may be said to be in flower from
May to July, depending on the locality. The flowers are large and
very handsome, each stem bearing from two to six or more. They
consist of six segments or parts, the three outer ones turned back
and the three inner ones erect and much smaller. The flowers are
usually purplish blue, the "claw" or narrow base of the segments,
variegated with yellow, green, or white and marked with purple veins.
All of the species belonging to this genus are more or less
variegated in color; hence the name "iris," meaning "rainbow," and
the specific name "versicolor," meaning "various colors." The name
poison-flag has been applied to it on account of the poisonous effect
it has produced in children, who, owing to the close resemblance of
the plants before reaching the flowering stage, sometimes mistake it
for sweet flag.
The seed capsule is oblong, about 1 1/2 inches and contains numerous
[Illustration: Blue Flag (Iris Versicolor).]
Description of Rootstock--Blue Flag has a thick, fleshy, horizontal
rootstock, branched, and producing long, fibrous roots. It resembles
sweet-flag (Calamus) and has been mistaken for it. The sections of
the rootstock of Blue Flag, however, are flattened above and rounded
below; the scars of the leaf sheaths are in the form of rings,
whereas in sweet-flag the rootstock is cylindrical and the scars left
by the leaf sheaths are obliquely transverse. Furthermore, there is a
difference in the arrangement of the roots on the rootstock, the
scars left by the roots in Blue Flag being close together generally
nearer the larger end, while in sweet-flag the disposition of the
roots along the rootstock is quite regular. Blue Flag is grayish
brown on the outside when dried, and sweet-flag is light brown or
fawn colored. Blue Flag has no well-marked odor and the taste is
acrid and nauseous, and in sweet-flag there is a pleasant odor and
bitter, pungent taste.
Collection, Prices and Uses--Blue Flag is collected in autumn and
usually brings from about 7 to 10 cents a pound. Great scarcity of
Blue Flag root was reported from the producing districts in the
autumn of 1906. It is an old remedy, the Indians esteeming it highly
for stomach troubles, and it is said that it was sometimes cultivated
by them in near-by ponds on account of its medicinal value. It has
also been used as a domestic remedy and is regarded as an alterative,
diuretic and purgative. It was official in the United States
Pharmacopoeia of 1890.
Geranium Maculatum L.
Other Common Names--Spotted crane's-bill, wild crane's-bill,
stork's-bill, spotted geranium, wild geranium, alum-root, alumbloom,
chocolate-flower, crowfoot, dovefoot, old-maid's-nightcap, shameface.
Habitat and Range--Crane's-Bill flourishes in low grounds and open
woods from Newfoundland to Manitoba, south to Georgia and Missouri.
Description of Plant--This pretty perennial plant belongs to the
geranium family (Geraniaceae) and will grow sometimes to a height of
2 feet, but more generally it is only about a foot in height. The
entire plant is more or less covered with hairs, and is erect and
usually unbranched. The leaves are nearly circular or somewhat heart
shaped in outline, 3 to 6 inches wide, deeply parted into three or
five parts, each division again cleft and toothed. The basal leaves
are borne on long stems, while those above have short stems. The
flowers, which appear from April to June, are borne in a loose
cluster; they are rose purple, pale or violet in color, about 1 inch
or 1 1/2 inches wide, the petals delicately veined and woolly at the
base and the sepals or calyx lobes with a bristle-shaped point,
soft-hairy, the margins having a fringe of more bristly hairs. The
fruit consists of a beaked capsule, springing open elastically, and
dividing into five cells, each cell containing one seed.
[Illustration: Crane's-bill (Geranium Maculatum), Flowering Plant,
Showing also Seed Pods and Rootstock.]
Description of Rootstock--When removed from the earth the rootstock
of Crane's-bill is about 2 to 4 inches long, thick, with numerous
branches bearing the young buds for next season's growth and scars
showing the remains of stems of previous years, brown outside, white
and fleshy internally, and with several stout roots. When dry, the
rootstock turns a darker brown, is finely wrinkled externally, and
has a rough spiny appearance, caused by the shrinking of the buds and
branches and the numerous stem scars with which the root is studded.
Internally it is of a somewhat purplish color. Crane's-bill root is
without odor and the taste is very astringent.
Collection, Prices and Uses--Crane's-bill root depends for its
medicinal value on its astringent properties and as its astringency
is due to the tannin content, the root should, of course, be
collected at that season of the year when it is richest in that
constituent. Experiments have proved that the yield of tannin in
Crane's-bill is greatest just before flowering, which is in April or
May, according to locality. It should, therefore, be collected just
before the flowering periods, and not, as is commonly the case, in
autumn. The price of this root ranges from 4 to 8 cents a pound.
Crane's-bill root, which is official in the United States
Pharmacopoeia, is used as a tonic and astringent.
Taraxacum Officinale Weber, (a).
Synonyms--Taraxacum taraxacum (L.) Karst: (a) Taraxacum densleonis
Other Common Names--Blow-ball, cankerwort, doon-head, clock,
fortune-teller, horse gowan, Irish daisy, yellow gowan, one-o'clock.
Habitat and Range--With the exception, possibly, of a few localities
in the South, the dandelion is at home almost everywhere in the
United States, being a familiar weed in meadows and waste places, and
especially in lawns. It has been naturalized in this country from
Europe and is distributed as a weed in all civilized parts of the
Description of Plant--It is hardly necessary to give a description of
the dandelion, as almost every one is familiar with the coarsely
toothed, smooth, shining green leaves, the golden-yellow flowers
which open in the morning and only in fair weather, and the round
fluffy seed heads of this only too plentiful weed of the lawns. In
spring the young, tender leaves are much sought after by the colored
market women about Washington, who collect them by the basketful and
sell them for greens and salad.
Dandelion is a perennial belonging to the chicory family
(Cichoriaceae) and is in flower practically throughout the year. The
entire plant contains a white milky juice.
Description of Root--The dandelion has a large, thick and fleshy
taproot, sometimes measuring 20 inches in length. In commerce,
dandelion root is usually found in pieces 3 to 6 inches long, dark
brown on the outside and strongly wrinkled lengthwise. It breaks with
a short fracture and shows the thick whitish bark marked with circles
of milk ducts and a thin woody center, which is yellow and porous. It
is practically without odor and has a bitter taste.
[Illustration: Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale).]
Collections and Uses--Late in summer and in fall the milky juice
becomes thicker and the bitterness increases and this is the time to
collect dandelion root. It should be carefully washed and thoroughly
dried. Dandelion roots lose considerably in drying, weighing less
than half as much as the fresh roots. The dried root should not be
kept too long, as drying diminishes its medicinal activity. It is
official in the United States Pharmacopeia.
Dandelion is used as a tonic in diseases of the liver and in
Imports and Prices--Most of the dandelion root found on the market is
collected in central Europe. There has been an unusually large demand
for dandelion root during the season of 1907 and according to the
weekly records contained in "the Oil, Paint and Drug Reporter" the
imports entered at the port of New York from January 1, 1907, to the
end of May amounted to about 47,000 pounds. The price ranges from 4
to 10 cents a pound.
Saponaria Officinalis L.
Other Common Names--Saponaria, saponary, common soapwort,
bouncing-bet, soaproot, bruisewort, Boston pink, chimney-pink,
crow-soap, hedge-pink, old maid's pink, fuller's-herb,
lady-by-the-gate, London-pride, latherwort, mock-gilliflower,
scourwort, sheepweed, sweet-betty, wild sweet-william, woods-phlox,
Habitat and Range--By one or another of its many common names this
plant, naturalized from Europe, is known almost everywhere, occurring
along roadsides and in waste places.
Description of Plant--Soapwort is a rather pretty herbaceous
perennial, 1 to 2 feet high, and belonging to the pink family
(Silenaceae). Its smooth, stout and erect stem is leafy and sparingly
branched, the leaves ovate, 2 to 3 inches long, smooth, prominently
ribbed, and pointed at the apex. The bright looking, crowded clusters
of pink (or in shady localities whitish) flowers appear from about
June until far along in September. The five petals of the corolla are
furnished with long "claws" or, in other words, they are narrowly
lengthened toward the base and inserted within the tubular and pale
green calyx. The seed capsule is oblong and one-celled.
Description of Root--Soapwort spreads by means of its stolons, or
underground runners. But the roots, which are rather long are the
parts employed in medicine. These are cylindrical, tapering toward
the apex, more or less branched, and wrinkled lengthwise. The whitish
wood is covered with a brownish red, rather thick bark and the roots
break with a short, smooth fracture. It is at first sweetish, bitter,
and mucilaginous, followed by a persistently acrid taste, but it has
[Illustration: Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis).]
Collection, Prices and Uses--As already indicated, the roots without
the runners, should be collected either in spring or autumn. With
water they form a lather, like soap, whence the common names
soapwort, soaproot, latherwort, etc., are derived. The price ranges
from 5 to 10 cents a pound. The roots are employed in medicine for
their tonic, alterative and diaphoretic properties. The leaves are
Arctium Lappa L.
Synonym--Lappa major Gaertn.
Other Common Names--Cockle-button, cuckold-dock, beggar's-buttons,
hurrbur, stick-buttons, hardock, bardane.
Habitat and Range--Burdock, one of our most common weeds, was
introduced from the Old World. It grows along road sides, in fields,
pastures and waste places, being very abundant in the Eastern and
Central States and in some scattered localities in the West.
Description of Plant--Farmers are only too well acquainted with this
coarse, unsightly weed. During the first year of its growth this
plant, which is a biennial belonging to the aster family
(Asteraceae), produces only a rosette of large, thin leaves from a
long, tapering root. In the second year a round, fleshy, and branched
stem is produced, the plant when full grown measuring from 3 to 7
feet in height. This stem is branched, grooved, and hairy, bearing
very large leaves, the lower ones often measuring 18 inches in
length. The leaves are placed alternately on the stem, on long,
solid, deeply furrowed leafstalks; they are thin in texture, smooth
on the upper surface, pale and woolly underneath; usually heart
shaped, but sometimes roundish or oval, with even, wavy, or toothed
The flowers are not produced until the second year, appearing from
July until frost. Burdock flowers are purple, in small, clustered
heads armed with hooked tips, and the spiny burs thus formed are a
great pest, attaching themselves to clothing and to the wool and hair
of animals. Burdock is a prolific seed producer, one plant bearing as
many as 400,000 seeds.
[Illustration: Burdock (Arctium Lappa), Flowering Branch and Root.]
Description of Rootstock--Burdock has a large, fleshy taproot, which
when dry becomes scaly and wrinkled lengthwise and has a blackish
brown or grayish brown color on the outside, hard, breaking with a
short, somewhat fleshy fracture, and showing the yellowish wood with
a whitish spongy center. Sometimes there is a small, white, silky
tuft at the top of the root, which is formed by the remains of the
bases of the leafstalks. The odor of the root is weak and unpleasant,
the taste mucilaginous, sweetish and somewhat bitter. While the root
is met with in commerce in its entire state, it is more frequently in
broken pieces or in lengthwise slices, the edges of which are turned
inward. The roots of other species of Arctium are also employed.
Collection, Prices and Uses--Burdock root is official, and the United
States Pharmacopoeia directs that it be collected from plants of the
first year's growth, either of Arctium lappa or of other species of
Arctium. As Burdock has a rather large, fleshy root, it is difficult
to dry and is apt to become moldy, and for this reason it is better
to slice the root lengthwise, which will facilitate the drying
process. The price ranges from 5 to 10 cents a pound. The best root
is said to come from Belgium, where great care is exercised in its
collection and curing.
Burdock root is used as an alterative in blood and skin diseases. The
seeds and fresh leaves are also used medicinally to a limited extent.
Rumex Crispus L.
Other Common Names--Rumex, curled dock, narrow dock, sour dock.
Habitat and Range--This troublesome weed, introduced from Europe, is
now found thruout the United States, occurring in cultivated as well
as in waste ground, among rubbish heaps and along the road side.
Description of Plant--Yellow Dock is a perennial plant belonging to
the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae), and has a deep, spindle shaped
root, from which arises an erect, angular and furrowed stem,
attaining a height of from 2 to 4 feet. The stem is branched near the
top and leafy, bearing numerous long dense clusters formed by
drooping groups of inconspicuous green flowers placed in circles
around the stem. The flowers are produced from June to August, and
the fruits which follow are in the form of small triangular nuts,
like the grain of buckwheat, to which family the dock belongs. So
long as the fruits are green and immature they can scarcely be
distinguished from the flowers, but as they ripen the clusters take
on a rusty brown color. The leaves of the yellow dock are lance
shaped, acute, with the margins strongly waved and crisped, the lower
long-stalked leaves being blunt or heart shaped at the base from 6 to
8 inches in length, while those nearer the top are narrower and
shorter, only 3 to 6 inches in length, short stemmed or stemless.
[Illustration: Yellow Dock (Rumex Crispus), First Year's Growth.]
The broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius L.), is known also as
bitter dock, common dock, blunt-leaved dock, and butter-dock, is a
very common weed found in waste places from the New England States to
Oregon and south to Florida and Texas. It grows to about the same
height as the yellow dock, to which it bears a close resemblance,
differing principally in its more robust habit of growth. The stem is
stouter than in yellow dock and the leaves, which likewise are wavy
along the margin, are much broader and longer. The green flowers
appear from June to August and are in rather long, open clusters, the
groups rather loose and far apart.
[Illustration: Broad-Leaved Dock (Rumex Obtusifolius), Leaf,
Fruiting Spike and Root.]
Description of Roots--Yellow Dock root is large and fleshy, usually
from 8 to 12 inches long, tapering or spindle shaped, with few or no
rootlets. When dry it is usually twisted and prominently wrinkled,
the rather thick, dark, reddish brown bark marked with small scars.
The inside of the root is whitish at first, becoming yellowish. The
fracture is short, but shows some splintery fibers. The root, as it
occurs in commerce, is either entire or occasionally split
The darker colored root of the broad-leaved dock has a number of
smaller branches near the crown and more rootlets. Dock roots have
but a very faint odor and a bitter, astringent taste.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The roots should be collected in late
summer or autumn, after the fruiting tops have turned brown, then
washed, either left entire or split lengthwise into halves or
quarters and carefully dried. Yellow Dock root ranges from 4 to 6
cents a pound.
In the United States Pharmacopoeia of 1890 "the roots of Rumex
crispus and of some other species of Rumex" were official and both of
the above-named species are used, but the Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)
is the species most commonly employed in medicine. The docks are
largely used for purifying the blood and in the treatment of skin
The young root leaves of both of the species mentioned are sometimes
used in spring as pot herbs.
DRY SOIL PLANTS.
Stillingia Sylvatica L.
Other Common Names--Queen's-delight, queen's-root, silverleaf,
Habitat and Range--This plant is found in dry, sandy soil and in pine
barrens from Maryland to Florida west to Kansas and Texas.
Description of Plant--Like most of the other members of the spurge
family (Euphorbiaceae), stillingia also contains a milky juice. This
indigenous, herbaceous perennial is about 1 to 3 feet in height,
bright green and somewhat fleshy, with crowded leaves of a somewhat
leathery texture. The leaves are practically stemless and vary
greatly in form, from lance shaped, oblong, to oval and elliptical,
round toothed or saw toothed. The pale yellow flowers, which appear
from April to October, are borne in a dense terminal spike and
consist of two kinds, male and female, the male flowers arranged in
dense clusters around the upper part of the stalk and the female
flowers occurring at the base of the spike. The seeds are contained
in a roundish 3-lobed capsule.
Description of Root--Stillingia consists of somewhat cylindrical or
slenderly spindle shaped roots from 6 inches to a foot in length,
slightly branched, the yellowish white, porous wood covered with a
rather thick, reddish brown, wrinkled bark, the whole breaking with a
fibrous fracture. As found in commerce, stillingia is usually in
short transverse sections, the ends of the sections pinkish and fuzzy
with numerous fine, silky bast fibres, and the bark showing scattered
yellowish brown resin cells and milk ducts. It has a peculiar
unpleasant odor, and a bitter, acrid and pungent taste.
Collection, Prices and Uses--Stillingia root is collected in late
autumn or early in spring, usually cut into short, transverse
sections and dried. The price ranges from 3 to 5 cents a pound.
This root, which is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, has
been a popular drug in the South for more than a century and is
employed principally as an alterative.
Frasera Carolinensis Walt.
Synonym--Frasera walteri Michx.
Other Common Names--Frasera, meadowpride, pyramid-flower,
pyramid-plant, Indian lettuce, yellow gentian, ground-century.
Habit and Range American Colombo occurs in dry soil from the western
part of New York to Wisconsin, south to Georgia and Kentucky.
Description of Plant--During the first and second year of the growth
of this plant only the root leaves are produced These are generally
somewhat rounded at the summit, narrowed toward the base, and larger
than the stem leaves, which develop in the third year. The leaves are
deep green and produced mostly in whorls of four, the stem leaves
being 3 to 6 inches in length and oblong or lance shaped. In the
third year the stem is developed and the flowers are produced from
June to August. The stem is stout, erect, cylindrical, and 3 to 8
feet in height. The flowers of American Colombo are borne in large
terminal, handsome pyramidal clusters, sometimes 2 feet in length,
and are greenish yellow or yellowish white, dotted with brown purple.
They are slender stemmed, about 1 inch across, with a wheel shaped,
4-parted corolla The seeds are contained in a much compressed
capsule. American Colombo is an indigenous perennial and belongs to
the gentian family (Gentianaceae.)
Description of Root--The root is long, horizontal, spindle shaped,
yellow, and wrinkled. In the fresh state it is fleshy and quite
heavy. The American Colombo root of commerce, formerly in transverse
slices, now generally occurs in lengthwise slices. The outside is
yellowish or pale orange and the inside spongy and pale yellow. The
taste is bitter. American Colombo root resembles the official gentian
root in taste and odor, and the uses are also similar.
[Illustration: American Colombo (Frasera Carolinensis), Leaves,
Flowers and Seed Pods.]
Collection, Prices and Uses--The proper time for collecting American
Colombo root is in the autumn of the second year or in March or April
of the third year. It is generally cut into lengthwise slices before
drying. The price of American Colombo root ranges from 3 to 5 cents a
The dried root, which was official in the United States Pharmacopoeia
from 1820 to 1880, is used as a simple tonic. In the fresh state the
root possesses emetic and cathartic properties.
Agropyron repens (L.) Beauv.
Synonym--Triticum repens L.
Other Common Names--Dog-grass, quick-grass, quack-grass,
quitch-grass, quake-grass, scutch-grass, twitch-grass, witch-grass,
wheat-grass, creeping wheat-grass, devil's grass, durfa-grass,
Durfee-grass, Dutch-grass, Fin's-grass, Chandler's-grass.
Habitat and Range--Like many of our weeds, couch-grass was introduced
from Europe, and is now one of the worst pests the farmer has to
contend with, taking possession of the cultivated ground and crowding
out valuable crops. It occurs most abundantly from Maine to Maryland,
westward to Minnesota and Minnesota, and is spreading on farms on the
Pacific slope, but is rather sparingly distributed in the South.
[Illustration: Couch-Grass (Agrophyron Repens).]
Description of Plant--Couch-grass is rather coarse, 1 to 3 feet high,
and when in flower very much resemble rye or beardless wheat. Several
round, smooth, hollow stems, thickened at the joints, are produced
from the long, creeping, jointed rootstock. The stems bear 5 to 7
leaves from 3 to 12 inches long, rough on the upper surface and
smooth beneath, while the long, cleft leaf sheaths are smooth. The
solitary terminal flowering heads or spikes are compressed, and
consist of two rows of spikelets on a wavy and flattened axis. These
heads are produced from July to September. Couch Grass belongs to the
grass family (Poaceae.)
Description of Rootstock--The pale yellow, smooth rootstock is long,
tough and jointed, creeping along underneath the ground, and pushing
in every direction. As found in the stores, it consists of short,
angular pieces, from one eighth to one-fourth of an inch long, of a
shining straw color, and hollow. These pieces are odorless, but have
a somewhat sweetish taste.
Collection, Prices and Uses--Couch-Grass, which is official in the
United States Pharmacopoeia, should be collected in spring, carefully
cleaned, and the rootlets removed. The rootstock (not rootlets) is
then cut into short pieces about two-fifths of an inch in length, for
which purpose an ordinary feed-cutting machine may be used, and
Couch-Grass is usually destroyed by plowing up and burn ing, for if
any of the joints are permitted to remain in the soil new plants will
be produced. But, instead of burning, the rootstocks may be saved and
prepared for the drug market in the manner above stated. The prices
range from 3 to 5 cents a pound. At present Couch-Grass is collected
chiefly in Europe.
A fluid extract is prepared from Couch-Grass, which is used in
affections of the kidney and bladder.
Brauneria Angustifolia (DC) Heller.
Synonym--Echinacea angustifolia DC.
Other Common Names--Pale-purple coneflower, Sampson-root, niggerhead
Habitat and Range--Echinacea is found in scattered patches in rich
prairie soil or sandy soil from Alabama to Texas and northwestward,
being most abundant in Kansas and Nebraska. Tho not growing wild in
the Eastern States, It has succeeded well under cultivation in the
testing gardens of the Department of Agriculture at Washington, D. C.
[Illustration: Echinacea (Brauneria Angustifolia).]
Description of Plant--This native herbaceous perennial, belonging to
the aster family (Asteraceae), grows to a height of from 2 to 3 feet.
It sends up a rather stout bristly-hairy stem, bearing thick
rough-hairy leaves, which are broadly lance shaped or linear lance
shaped, entire, 3 to 8 inches long, narrowed at each end, and
strongly three nerved. The lower leaves have slender stems, but as
they approach the top of the plant the stems become shorter and some
of the upper leaves are stemless.
The flower heads appearing from July to October, are very pretty, and
the plant would do well as an ornamental in gardens. The flowers
remain on the plant for a long time, and the color varies from
whitish rose to pale purple. The head consists of ray flowers and
disk flowers, the former constituting the "petals" surrounding the
disk, and the disk itself being composed of small, tubular, greenish
yellow flowers. When the flowers first appear the disk is flattened
or really concave, but as the flowering progresses it becomes conical
in shape. The brown fruiting heads are conical, chaffy, stiff and
Description of Root--Echinacea has a thick, blackish root, which in
commerce occurs in cylindrical pieces of varying length and
thickness. The dried root is grayish brown on the outside, the bark
wrinkled lengthwise and sometimes spirally twisted. It breaks with a
short, weak fracture, showing yellow or greenish yellow wood edges,
which give the impression that the wood is decayed.
The odor is scarcely perceptible and the taste is mildly aromatic,
afterwards becoming acrid and inducing a flow of saliva.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root of Echinacea is collected in
autumn and brings from 20 to 30 cents a pound. It is said that
Echinacea varies greatly in quality due chiefly to the locality in
which it grows. According to J. U. Lloyd, the best quality comes from
the prairie lands of Nebraska and that from marshy places is
Echinacea is said to be an alterative and to promote perspiration and
induce a flow of saliva. The Indians used the freshly scraped roots
for the cure of snake bites.
Aletris Farinosa L.
Other Common Names--Stargrass, blazingstar, mealy starwort, starwort,
unicorn-root, true unicorn-root, unicorn-plant, unicorn's-horn,
colic-root, devil's-bit, ague-grass, ague-root, aloe-root, crow-corn,
A glance at these common names will show many that have been applied
to other plants, especially to Chamaelirium, with which Aletris is so
much confused. In order to guard against this confusion as much as
possible, it is best not to use the common names of this plant at
all, referring to it only by its generic name, Aletris.
[Illustration: Aletris (Aletris Farinosa).]
Habitat and Range--Aletris occurs in dry, generally sandy soil, from
Maine to Minnesota, Florida and Tennessee.
Description of Plant--As stated under Chamaelirium, this plant is
often confused with the former by collectors and others, although
there seems to be no good reason why this should be so. The plants do
not resemble each other except in habit of growth, and the trouble
undoubtedly arose from a confusion of the somewhat similar common
names of the plants, as, for instance, "stargrass" and "starwort."
Aletris may be at once distinguished by the grasslike leaves, which
spread out on the ground in the form of a star, and by the slender
spikes of rough, mealy flowers.
This native perennial, belonging to the lily family (Liliaceae), is
an erect, slender herb, 1 1/2 to 3 feet tall, with basal leaves only.
These leaves are grasslike, from 2 to 6 inches long, and have a
yellowish green or willow-green color. As already stated, they
surround the base of the stem in the form of a star. Instead of stem
leaves, there are very small, leaflike bracts placed at some distance
apart on the stem. From May to July the erect flowering spike, from 4
to 12 inches long, is produced, bearing white, urn-shaped flowers,
sometimes tinged with yellow at the apex, and having a rough,
wrinkled and mealy appearance. The seed capsule is ovoid, opening by
three halves, and containing many seeds. When the flowers in the
spike are still in bud, there is a suggestion of resemblance to the
female spike of Chamaelirium with its fruit half formed.
Several other species are recognized by botanists, namely, Aletris
Aurea Walt., A. lutea Small, and A. obovata Nash, but aside from the
flowers, which in aurea and lutea are yellow, and slight variations
in form, such as a more contracted perianth, the differences are not
so pronounced that the plants would require a detailed description
here. They have undoubtedly been collected with Aletris farinosa for
years, and are sufficiently like it to be readily recognized.
Description of Rootstock--Not only have the plants of Aletris and
Chamaelirium been confused, but the rootstocks as well. There is,
however, no resemblance between them.
Aletris has a horizontal rootstock from one-half to 1 1/2 inches in
length, rough and scaly, and almost completely hidden by the fibrous
roots and remains of the basal leaves. Upon close examination the
scars of former leaf stems may be seen along the upper surface. The
rootlets are from 2 to 10 inches in length, those of recent growth
whitish and covered with several layers of epidermis which gradually
peel off, and the older rootlets of the rootstock showing this
epidermis already scaled off, leaving only the hard, brown, woody
center. The rootstock in commerce almost invariably shows at one end
a tuft of the remains of the basal leaves, which do not lose their
green color. It is grayish brown outside, whitish within, and breaks
with a mealy fracture. It has no odor, and a starchy taste, followed
by some acridity, but no bitterness.
Collection, Prices and Uses--Aletris should be collected in autumn,
and there is no reason why collectors should make the common mistake
of confusing Aletris with Chamaelirium. By comparing the description
of Aletris with that of Chamaelirium, it will be seen that there is
scarcely any resemblance. Aletris ranges from 30 to 40 cents a pound.
As indicated under Chamaelirium, the medicinal properties have also
been considered the same in both plants, but Aletris is now regarded
of value chiefly in digestive troubles. Aletris was official in the
United States Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1870.
Baptisia Tinctoria (L.) R. Br.
Other Common Names--Baptisia, indigo-weed, yellow indigo, American
indigo, yellow broom, indigo-broom, clover-broom, broom-clover,
horsefly-weed, shoofly, rattlebush.
Habitat and Range--This native herb grows on dry, poor land, and is
found from Maine to Minnesota, south to Florida and Louisiana.
Description of Plant--Many who have been brought up in the country
will recognize in the wild indigo the plant so frequently used by
farmers, especially in Virginia and Maryland, to keep flies away from
horses, bunches of it being fastened to the harness for this purpose.
[Illustration: Wild Indigo (Baptisia Tinctoris) Branch Showing
Flowers and Seed Pods.]
Wild Indigo grows about 2 to 3 feet in height and the clover-like
blossoms and leaves will show at once that it belongs to the same
family as the common clover, namely, the pea family (Fabaceae). It is
an erect, much-branched, very leafy plant of compact growth, the
3-leaved, bluish green foliage somewhat resembling clover leaves. The
flowers, as already stated, are like common clover flowers--that is,
not like clover heads, but the single flowers composing these; they
are bright yellow, about one-half inch in length and are produced in
numerous clusters which appear from June to September. The seed pods,
on stalks longer than the calyx, are nearly globular or ovoid and are
tipped with an awl shaped style.
Another species, said to possess properties similar to those of
baptisia tinctoria and substituted for it, is B. alba R. Br., called
the white wild indigo. This plant has white flowers and is found in
the Southern States and on the plains of the Western States.
Description of Root--Wild Indigo has a thick, knotty crown or head,
with several stem scars, and a round, fleshy root, sending out
cylindrical branches and rootlets almost 2 feet in length. The white
woody interior is covered with a thick, dark brown bark, rather scaly
or dotted with small, wart-like excrescences. The root breaks with a
tough, fibrous fracture. There is a scarcely perceptible odor and the
taste, which resides chiefly in the bark, is nauseous, bitter and
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root of Wild Indigo is collected in
autumn, and brings from 4 to 8 cents a pound.
Large doses of Wild Indigo are emetic and cathartic and may prove
dangerous. It also has stimulant, astringent and antiseptic
properties, and is used as a local application to sores, ulcers, etc.
The herb is sometimes employed like the root and the entire plant was
official from 1830 to 1840.
In some sections the young, tender shoots are used for greens, like
those of pokeweed, but great care must be exercised to gather them
before they are too far advanced in growth, as otherwise bad results
A blue coloring matter has been prepared from the plant and used as a
substitute for indigo, to which, however, it is very much inferior.
Asclepias Tuberosa L.
Other Common Names--Butterfly weed, Canada-root, Indian-posy,
orange-root, orange swallowwort, tuberroot, whiteroot, windroot,
yellow or orange milkweed.
Habitat and Range--Pleurisy-Root flourishes in the open or in the
pine woods, in dry, sandy or gravelly soil, usually along the banks
of streams. Its range extends from Ontario and Maine to Minnesota,
south to Florida, Texas and Arizona, but it is found in greatest
abundance in the South.
Description of Plant--This is a very showy and ornamental perennial
plant, indigenous to this country, and belonging to the milkweed
family (Asclepiadaceae); it is erect and rather stiff in habit, but
with brilliant heads of bright orange-colored flowers that attract
attention from afar.
The stems are rather stout, erect, hairy, about 1 to 2 feet in
height, sometimes branched near the top, and bearing a thick growth
of leaves. These are either stemless or borne on short stems, are
somewhat rough to the touch, 2 to 6 inches long, lance shaped or
oblong, the apex either sharp pointed or blunt, with a narrow,
rounded or heart shaped base. The flower heads, borne at the ends of
the stem and branches, consist of numerous, oddly shaped orange
colored flowers. The corolla is composed of five segments, which are
reflexed or turned back and the crown has five erect or spreading
"hoods," within each of which is a slender incurved horn. The plant
is in flower for some time, usually from June to September, followed
late in the fall by pods, which are from 4 to 5 inches long, green,
tinged with red, finely hairy on the outside, and containing the
seeds with their long, silky hairs. Unlike the other milkweeds, the
Pleurisy Root contains little or no milky juice.
Description of Root--The root of this plant is large, white and
fleshy, spindle shaped, branching. As found in commerce it consists
of lengthwise or crosswise pieces from 1 to 6 inches in length and
about three-fourths of an inch in thickness. It is wrinkled
lengthwise and also transversely and has a knotty head. The thin bark
is orange brown and the wood yellowish, with white rays. It has no
odor and a somewhat bitter, acrid taste.
[Illustration: Pleurisy-Root (Asclepias Tuberosa).]
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root, which is usually found rather
deep in the soil, is collected in autumn, cut into transverse or
lengthwise slices and dried. The price ranges from 6 to 10 cents a
Pleurisy-Root was much esteemed by the Indians, has long been used in
domestic practice, and is official in the United States
Pharmacopoeia. It is used in disordered digestion and in affections
of the lungs, in the last-named instance to promote expectoration,
relieve pains in the chest, and induce easier breathing. It is also
useful in producing perspiration.
Other Species--Besides the official Pleurisy-Root there are two other
species of Asclepias which are employed to some extent for the same
purposes, namely, the common milkweed and the swamp-milkweed.
The common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L.) is a perennial, native in
fields and waste places from Canada to North Carolina and Kansas. It
has a stout, usually simple stem 3 to 5 feet in height and oblong or
oval leaves, smooth on the upper surface and densely hairy beneath.
The flowers, similar in form to those of Asclepias tuberosa, are
pinkish purple and appear from June to August, followed by erect pods
3 to 5 inches long, woolly with matted hair and covered with prickles
and borne on recurved stems. The plant contains an abundance of milky
The root of the common milkweed is from 1 to 6 feet long, cylindrical
and finely wrinkled. The short branches and scars left by former
stems give the root a round, knotty appearance. The bark is thick,
grayish brown and the inside white, the root breaking with a short,
splintery fracture. Common milkweed root has a very bitter taste, but
It is collected in autumn and cut into transverse slices before
drying. Common milkweed ranges from 6 to 8 cents a pound.
Swamp-milkweed (Asclepias incarnata L.) is a native perennial herb
found in swamps from Canada to Tennessee and Kansas. The slender
stem, leafy to the top, is 1 to 2 feet in height, branched above, the
leaves lance shaped or oblong lance shaped. The flowers, also similar
to those A tuberosa, appear from July to September, and are flesh
colored or rose colored. The pods are 2 to 3 1/2 inches long, erect,
and very sparingly hairy.
The root of the swamp-milkweed, which is also collected in autumn, is
not quite an inch in length, hard and knotty, with several light
brown rootlets. The tough white wood, which has a thick, central
pith, is covered with a thin, yellowish brown bark. It is practically
without odor, and the taste, sweetish at first, finally becomes
bitter. This root brings about 3 cents a pound.
RICH SOIL PLANTS.
Sanguinaria Canadensis L.
Other Common Names--Redroot, red puccoon, red Indian-paint,
puccoon-root, coonroot, white puccoon, pauson, snakebite,
sweet-slumber, tetterwort, tumeric.
Habitat and Range--Bloodroot is found in rich, open woods from Canada
south to Florida and west to Arkansas and Nebraska.
Description of Plant--This indigenous plant is among the earliest of
our spring flowers, the waxy-white blossom, enfolded by the grayish
green leaf, usually making its appearance early in April. The stem
and root contain a blood-red juice. Bloodroot is a perennial and
belongs to the same family as the opium poppy, the Papaveraceae. Each
bud on the thick, horizontal rootstock produces but a single leaf and
a flowering scape, reaching about 6 inches in height. The plant is
smooth and both stem and leaves, especially when young, present a
grayish green appearance, being covered with a "bloom" such as is
found on some fruits. The leaves are palmately 5 to 9 lobed, the
lobes either cleft at the apex or having a wavy margin, and are borne
on leaf stems about 6 to 14 inches long. After the plants have ceased
flowering the leaves, at first only 3 inches long and 4 to 5 inches
broad, continue to expand until they are about 4 to 7 inches long and
6 to 12 inches broad. The under side of the leaf is paler than the
upper side and shows prominent veins. The flower measures about 1
inch across, is white, rather waxlike in appearance, with numerous
golden-yellow stamens in the center. The petals soon fall off, and
the oblong, narrow seed pod develops, attaining a length of about an
[Illustration: Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis) Flowering Plant
Description of Rootstock--When dug out of the ground Bloodroot is
rather thick, round and fleshy, slightly curved at the ends, and
contains a quantity of blood-red juice. It is from 1 to 4 inches in
length, from one-half to 1 inch in thickness, externally reddish
brown, internally a bright red blood color, and produces many thick,
orange colored rootlets.
The rootstock shrinks considerably in drying, the outside turning
dark brown and the inside orange-red or yellowish with numerous small
red dots, and it breaks with a short, sharp fracture. It has but a
slight odor and the taste is bitter and acrid and very persistent.
The powdered root causes sneezing.
Collection, Prices and Use--The rootstock should be collected in
autumn, after the leaves have died, and after curing, it should be
stored in a dry place, as it rapidly deteriorates if allowed to
become moist. Age also impairs its acridity. The price paid to
collectors for this root ranges from about 5 to 10 cents per pound.
Bloodroot was well known to the American Indians, who used the red
juice as a dye for skins and baskets and for painting their faces and
bodies. It is official in the United States Pharmacopoeia and is used
as a tonic, alterative, stimulant and emetic.
Spigelia Marilandica L.
Other Common Names--Carolina pinkroot, pinkroot, Carolina pink,
Maryland pink, Indian pink, starbloom, wormgrass, wormweed, American
Habitat and Range--This pretty little plant is found in rich woods
from New Jersey to Florida, west to Texas and Wisconsin, but
occurring principally in the Southern States. It is fast
disappearing, however from its native haunts.
[Illustration: Pinkroot (Spigelia Marilandica).]
Description of Plant--Pinkroot belongs to the same family as the
yellow jasmine, namely, the Logania family (Loganiaceae), noted for
its poisonous species. It is a native perennial herb, with simple,
erect stem 6 inches to 1 1/2 feet high, nearly smooth. The leaves are
stemless, generally ovate, pointed at the apex and rounded or
narrowed at the base; they are from 2 to 4 inches long, one-half to 2
inches wide, smooth on the upper surface, and only slightly hairy on
the veins on the lower surface. The rather showy flowers are produced
from May to July in a terminal one-sided spike; they are from 1 to 2
inches in length, somewhat tube shaped, narrowed below, slightly
inflated toward the center, and again narrowed or contracted toward
the top, terminating in five lance shaped lobes; the flowers are very
showy, with their brilliant coloring--bright scarlet on the outside,
and the inside of the tube, and the lobes a bright yellow. The seed
capsule is double, consisting of two globular portions more or less
united, and containing numerous seeds.
Description of Rootstock--The rootstock is rather small, from 1 to 2
inches in length and about one-sixteenth of an inch in thickness. It
is somewhat crooked or bent, dark brown, with a roughened appearance
of the upper surface caused by cup shaped scars, the remains of
former annual stems. The lower surface and the sides have numerous
long, finely branched, lighter colored roots, which are rather
brittle. Pinkroot has a pleasant, aromatic odor, and the taste is
described as sweetish, bitter and pungent.
Collection, Prices and Uses--Pinkroot is collected after the
flowering period. It is said to be scarce, and was reported as
becoming scarce as long ago as 1830. The price paid to collectors
ranges from 25 to 40 cents a pound.
The roots of other plants, notably those of the East Tennessee
pinkroot (Ruellia ciliosa Pursh), are often found mixed with the true
Pinkroot, and the Ruellia ciliosa is even substituted for it. This
adulteration or substitution probably accounts for the inertness
which has sometimes been attributed to the true Pinkroot and which
has caused it to fall into more or less disuse. It has long been
known that the true Pinkroot was adulterated, but this adulteration
was supposed to be caused by the admixture of Carolina phlox (Phlox
Carolina L., now known as Phlox ovata L.), but this is said now to be
no part of the substitution.
The rootstock of Ruellia ciliosa is larger and not as dark as that of
the Maryland pinkroot and has fewer and coarser roots, from which the
bark readily separates, leaving the whitish wood exposed.
Pinkroot was long known by the Indians, and its properties were made
known to physicians by them. It is official in the United States
Pharmacopoeia and is used principally as an anthelmintic.
Porteranthus Trifoliatus (L.) Britton.
Synonym--Gilenia Trifoliata Moench.
Other Common Names--Gilenia, bowman's-root, false ipecac, western
Habitat and Range--Indian-Physic is native in rich woods from New
York to Michigan, south to Georgia and Missouri.
Description of Plant--The reddish stems of this slender, graceful
perennial of the rose family (Rosaceae) are about 2 to 3 feet high,
several erect and branched stems being produced from the same root.
The leaves are almost stemless and trifoliate; that is, composed of
three leaflets. They are ovate or lanceolate, 2 to 3 inches long,
narrowed at the base, smooth and toothed. The nodding, white pinkish
flowers are few, produced in loose terminal clusters from May to
July. The five petals are long, narrowed or tapering toward the base,
white or pinkish, and inserted in the tubular, somewhat bell shaped,
red tinged calyx. The seed pods are slightly hairy.
At the base of the leaf stems are small leaflike parts, called
stipules, which in this species are very small, linear and entire. In
the following species, which is very similar to trifoliatus and
collected with it, the stipules, however, are so much larger that
they form a prominent character, which has given rise to its specific
[Illustration: Indian Physic (Porteranthus Trifoliatus).]
Porteranthus stipulatus (Muhl.) Britton (Syn. Gillenia stipulacea
Nutt.) is found in similar situations as P. trifoliatus, but
generally farther west, its range extending from western New York to
Indiana and Kansas, south to Alabama, Louisiana and Indian Territory.
The general appearance of this plant is very similar to that of P.
trifoliatus. It grows to about the same height, but is generally more
hairy, the leaflets narrower and more deeply toothed, and the flowers
perhaps a trifle smaller. The stipules, however, will generally serve
to distinguish it. These are large, broad, ovate, acute at the apex,
sharply and deeply notched and so much like leaves that but for their
position at the base of the leaf stems they might easily be mistaken
With the exception of the name American ipecac applied to this plant,
the common names of Porteranthus trifoliatus are also used for P.
stipulatus. The roots of both species are collected and used for the
Description of Roots--The root Porteranthus trifoliatus is thick and
knotty, with many smoothish, reddish brown rootlets, the latter in
drying becoming wrinkled lengthwise and showing a few transverse
fissures or breaks in the bark, and the interior white and woody.
There is practically no odor and the woody portion is tasteless, but
the bark, which is readily separable, is bitter, increasing the flow
Porteranthus stipulatus has a larger, more knotty root, with rootlets
that are more wavy, constricted or marked with numerous transverse
rings, and the bark fissured or breaking from the white woody portion
at frequent intervals.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The roots of both species are collected
in autumn. The prices range from 2 to 4 cents a pound.
Indian-Physic or bowman's root, as these names imply, was a popular
remedy with the Indians, who used it as an emetic. From them the
white settlers learned of its properties and it is still used for its
emetic action. This drug was at one time official in the United
States Pharmacopoeia, from 1820 to 1880. Its action is said to
resemble that of ipecac.
Arala Nudicaulis L.
Other Common Names--False sarsaparilla, Virginia sarsaparilla,
American sarsaparilla, small spikenard, rabbit's-root, shotbush, wild
Habitat and Range--Wild Sarsaparilla grows in rich, moist woods from
Newfoundland west to Manitoba and south to North Carolina and
Description of Plant--This native herbaceous perennial, belonging to
the ginseng family (Araliaceae), produces a single, long-stalked leaf
and flowering stalk from a very short stem, both surrounded or
sheathed at the base by thin, dry scales. The leafstalk is about 12
inches long divided at the top into three parts, each division
bearing five oval, toothed leaflets from 2 to 5 inches long, the
veins on the lower surface sometimes hairy.
The naked flowering stalk bears three spreading clusters of small,
greenish flowers, each cluster consisting of from 12 to 30 flowers
produced from May to June, followed later in the season by purplish
black roundish berries, about the size of the common elderberries.
[Illustration: Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia Nudicaulis).]
Description of Rootstock--Wild Sarsaparilla rootstock has a very
fragrant, aromatic odor. Rabbits are said to be very fond of it,
whence one of the common names, "rabbit's-root," is derived. The
rootstock is rather long, horizontally creeping, somewhat twisted,
and yellowish brown on the outside. The taste is warm and aromatic.
The dried rootstock is brownish, gray and wrinkled lengthwise on the
outside, about one-fourth of an inch in thickness, the inside whitish
with a spongy pith. The taste is sweetish and somewhat aromatic.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root of Wild Sarsaparilla is
collected in autumn, and brings from 5 to 8 cents a pound.
This has long been a popular remedy, both among the Indians and
domestic practice, and was official in the United States
Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1880. Its use is that of an alterative,
stimulant and diaphoretic and in this it resembles the official
sarsaparilla obtained from tropical America.
Similar Species--The American spikehead (Aralia racemosa L.), known
also as spignet, spiceberry, Indian-root, petty-morrel, life-of-man
and old-man's-root, is employed like Aralia nudicaulis. It is
distinguished from this by its taller, herbaceous habit, its
much-branched stem from 3 to 6 feet high and very large leaves
consisting of thin, oval, heart shaped, double saw-toothed leaflets.
The small, greenish flowers are arranged in numerous clusters,
instead of only three as in nudicaulis and also appear somewhat
later, namely, from July to August. The berries are roundish, reddish
brown, or dark purple.
The rootstock is shorter than that of nudicaulis and much thicker,
with prominent stem scars, and furnished with numerous, very long,
rather thin roots. The odor and taste are stronger than in
nudicaulis. It is also collected in autumn, and brings from 4 to 8
cents a pound.
The American spikenard occurs in similar situations as nudicaulis,
but its range extends somewhat farther South, Georgia being given as
the Southern limit.
The California spikenard (Aralia californica Wats.) may be used for
the same purpose as the other species. The plant is larger than
Aralia racemosa, but otherwise is very much like it. The root is also
larger than that of A. racemosa.
Angelica Atropurpurea L.
Synonym--Archangelica atropurpurea Hoffn.
Other Common Names--Angelica, purple-stemmed angelica, great
angelica, high angelicam, purple angelica, masterwort.
Habitat and Range--American Angelica is a native herb, common in
swamps and damp places from Labrador to Delaware and west to
Description of Plant--This strong-scented, tall, stout perennial
reaches a height of from 4 to 6 feet, with a smooth, dark purple,
hollow stem 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The leaves are divided into
three parts, each of which is again divided into threes; the rather
thin segments are oval or ovate, somewhat acute, sharply toothed and
sometimes deeply cut, and about 2 inches long. The lower leaves
sometimes measure 2 feet in width, while the upper ones are smaller,
but all have very broad, expanded stalks. The greenish white flowers
are produced from June to July in somewhat roundish, many-rayed
umbels or heads, which sometimes are 8 to 10 inches in diameter. The
fruits are smooth, compressed and broadly oval. American Angelica
root is branched, from 3 to 6 inches long, and less than an inch in
diameter. The outside is light, brownish gray, with deep furrows, and
the inside nearly white, the whole breaking with a short fracture and
the thick bark showing fine resin dots. It has an aromatic odor, and
the taste at first is sweetish and spicy, afterwards bitter. The
fresh root is said to possess poisonous properties.
The root of the European or garden angelica (Angelica officinalis
Moench) supplies much of the angelica root of commerce. This is
native in northern Europe and is very widely cultivated, especially
in Germany, for the root.
[Illustration: American Angelica (Angelica Atropurpurea).]
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root is dug in autumn and carefully
dried. Care is also necessary in preserving the root, as it is very
liable to the attacks of insects. American Angelica root ranges from
6 to 10 cents a pound.
American Angelica root, which was official in the United States
Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1860 is used as an aromatic, tonic,
stimulant, carminative, diuretic and diaphoretic. In large doses it
acts as an emetic.
The seeds are also employed medicinally.
Symphytum Officinale L.
Other Common Names--Symphytum, healing herb, knitback, ass-ear,
backwort, blackwort, bruisewort, gum-plant, slippery-root.
Habitat and Range--Comfrey is naturalized from Europe and occurs in
waste places from Newfoundland to Minnesota, south to Maryland.
[Illustration: Comfrey (Symphytum Officinale).]
Description of Plant--This coarse, rough, hairy, perennial herb is
from 2 to 3 feet high, erect and branched, with thick, rough leaves,
the lower ones ovate lance shaped, 3 to 10 inches long, pointed at
the apex, and narrowed at the base into margined stems. The uppermost
leaves are lance shaped, smaller and stemless. Comfrey is in flower
from June to August, the purplish or dirty white, tubular, bell
shaped flowers numerous and borne in dense terminal clusters. The
nutlets which follow are brown, shinning and somewhat wrinkled.
Comfrey belongs to the borage family (Boraginaceae.)
Description of Root--Comfrey has a large, deep, spindle-shaped root,
thick and fleshy at the top, white inside and covered with a thin,
blackish brown bark. The dried root is hard, black and very deeply
and roughly wrinkled, breaking with a smooth, white, waxy fracture.
As it occurs in commerce it is in pieces ranging from about an inch
to several inches in length, only about one-fourth of an inch in
thickness, and usually considerably bent. It has a very mucilaginous,
somewhat sweetish and astringent taste, but no odor.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root is dug in autumn, or sometimes
in early spring. Comfrey root when first dug is very fleshy and
juicy, but about four-fifths of its weight is lost in drying. The
price ranges from 4 to 8 cents a pound.
The mucilaginous character of Comfrey root renders it useful in
coughs and diarrheal complaints. Its action is demulcent and slightly
The leaves are also used to some extent.
Inula Helenium L.
Other Common Names--Inula, inul, horseheal, elf-dock, elfwort,
horse-elder, scabwort, yellow starwort, velvet dock, wild sunflower.
Habitat and Range--This perennial herb has been naturalized from
Europe, and is found along the roadsides and in fields and damp
pastures from Nova Scotia to North Carolina, westward to Missouri and
Minnesota. It is a native also in Asia.
Description of Plant--When in flower elecampane resembles the
sunflower on a small scale. Like the sunflower, it is a member of the
aster family (Asteraceae). It is a rough plant, growing from 3 to 6
feet in height, but producing during the first year only root leaves,
which attain considerable size. In the following season the stout
densely hairy stem develops, attaining a height of from 3 to 6 feet.
[Illustration: Elecampane (Inula Helenium).]
The leaves are broadly oblong in form, toothed, the upper surface
rough and the under side densely soft-hairy. The basal or root leaves
are borne on long stems, and are from 10 to 20 inches long and 4 to 8
inches wide, while the upper leaves are smaller and stemless or
About July to September the terminal flower heads are produced,
either singly or a few together. As already stated, these flower
heads look very much like small sunflowers, 2 to 4 inches broad, and
consist of long, narrow, yellow rays, 3 toothed at the apex, and the
disk also is yellow.
Description of Root--Elecampane has a large, long, branching root,
pale yellow on the outside and whitish and fleshy within. When dry
the outside turns a grayish brown or dark brown, and is generally
finely wrinkled lengthwise. As found in commerce, elecampane is
usually in transverse or lengthwise slices, light yellow or grayish
and fleshy internally, dotted with numerous shining resin cells, and
with overlapping brown or wrinkled bark. These slices become flexible
in damp weather and tough, but when they are dry they break with a
short fracture. The root has at first a strongly aromatic odor, which
has been described by some as resembling a violet odor, but this
diminished in drying. The taste is aromatic, bitterish and pungent.
Collection, Prices, and Uses--The best time for collecting elecampane
is in the fall of the second year. If collected later than that the
roots are apt to be stringy and woody. Owing to the interlacing habit
of the rootlets, much dirt adheres to the root, but it should be well
cleaned, cut into transverse or lengthwise slices, and carefully
dried in the shade. Collectors receive from 3 to 5 cents a pound for
Elecampane, which was official in the United States Pharmacopeia of
1890, is much used in affections of the respiratory organs, in
digestive and liver disorders, catarrhal discharges and skin
Other Common Names--Gravelroot, Indian gravelroot, joe-pye-weed,
purple boneset, tall boneset, kidney root, king-of-the-meadow,
marsh-milkweed, motherwort, niggerweed, quillwort, slunkweed,
Habitat and Range--This common native perennial herb occurs in low
grounds and dry woods and meadows from Canada to Florida and Texas.
Description of Plant--The stout, erect, green or purple stem of
this plant grows from 3 to 10 feet in height and is usually smooth,
simple or branched at the top. The thin, veiny leaves are 4 to
12 inches long, 1 to 3 inches wide, ovate or ovate lance shaped,
sharp pointed, toothed and placed around the stem in whorls of three
to six. While the upper surface of the leaves is smooth, there is
usually a slight hairiness along the veins on the lower surface,
otherwise smooth. Toward the latter part of the summer and in early
fall queen-of-the-meadow is in flower, producing 5 to 15 flowered
pink or purplish heads, all aggregated in large compound clusters
which present a rather showy appearance. This plant belongs to the
aster family (Asteraceae).
[Illustration: Queen-of-the-Meadow (Eupatorium Purpureum).]
Another species which is collected with this and for similar
purposes, and by some regarded as only a variety, is the spotted
boneset or spotted joe-pye-weed (Eupatorium maculatum L.) This is
very similar to E. purpureum, but it does not grow so tall, is
rough-hairy and has the stem spotted with purple. The thicker leaves
are coarsely toothed and in whorls of three to five and the flower
clusters are flattened at the top rather than elongated as in E.
It is found in moist soil from New York to Kentucky, westward to
Kansas, New Mexico, Minnesota, and as far up as British Columbia.
Description of Root--Queen-of-meadow root, as it occurs in commerce,
is blackish and woody, furnished with numerous long dark-brown
fibers, which are furrowed or wrinkled lengthwise and whitish within.
It has a bitter, aromatic and astringent taste.
Collection, Prices and Uses--The root is collected in autumn and is
used for its astringent and diuretic properties. It was official in
the United States Pharmacopeia from 1820 to 1840. The price ranges
from 2 1/2 to 4 cents a pound.
Hydrangea Arborescens L.
Other Common Names--Wild hydrangea, seven-barks.
Habitat and Range--Hydrangea frequents rocky river banks and ravines
from the southern part of New York to Florida, and westward to Iowa
and Missouri, being especially abundant in the valley of the Delaware
Description of Plant--Hydrangea is an indigenous shrub, 5 to 6 feet
or more in height, with weak twigs, slender leaf stems and thin
leaves. It belongs to the hydrangea family (Hydrangeaceae). The
leaves are oval or sometimes heart shaped, 3 to 6 inches long,
sharply toothed, green on both sides, the upper smooth and the lower
sometimes hairy. The shrub is in flower from June to July, producing
loose, branching terminal heads of small, greenish white flowers,
followed by membranous, usually 2-celled capsules, which contain
numerous seeds. Sometimes hydrangea will flower a second time early
A peculiar characteristic of this shrub and one that has given rise
to the common name "seven-barks", is the peeling off of the stem
bark, which comes off in several successive layers of thin, different
Description of Root--The root is roughly branched and when first
taken from the ground is very juicy, but after drying it becomes
hard. The smooth white and tough wood is covered with a thin,
pale-yellow or light-brown bark, which readily scales off. The wood
is tasteless, but the bark has a pleasant aromatic taste, becoming
[Illustration: Hydrangea (Hydrangea Arborescens).]
Collection, Prices and Uses--Hydrangea root is collected in autumn
and as it becomes very tough after drying and difficult to bruise it
is best to cut the root in short transverse pieces while it is fresh
and still juicy and dry it in this way. The price ranges from 2 to 7
cents a pound.
Hydrangea has diuretic properties and is said to have been much used
by the Cherokees and early settlers in calculous complaints.
Berberis Aquifolium Pursi
Other Common Names--Rocky Mountain grape, holly-leaved barberry,
California barberry, trailing Mahonia.
Habitat and Range--This shrub is native in woods in rich soil among
rocks from Colorado to the Pacific Ocean, but is especially abundant
in Oregon and northern California.
[Illustration: Oregon Grape (Berberis Aquifolium).]
Description of Plant--Oregon grape is a low-growing shrub, resembling
somewhat the familiar Christmas holly of the Eastern states, and, in
fact, was first designated as "mountain-holly" by members of the
Lewis and Clark expedition on their way through the western country.
It belongs to the barberry family (Berberidaceae), and grows about 2
to 6 feet in height, the branches sometimes trailing. The leaves
consist of from 5 to 9 leaflets, borne in pairs, with an odd leaflet
at the summit. They are from 2 to 3 inches long and about 1 inch
wide, evergreen, thick, leathery, oblong or oblong ovate in outline,
smooth and shining above, the margins provided with thorny spines or
teeth. The numerous small yellow flowers appear in April or May and
are borne in erect, clustered heads. The fruit consists of a cluster
of blue or bluish purple berries, having a pleasant taste, and each
containing from three to nine seeds.
Other Species--While Berberis aquifolium is generally designated as
the source of Oregon grape root, other species of Berberis are met
with in the market under the name grape root, and their use is
sanctioned by the United States Pharmacopoeia.
The species most commonly collected with Berberis aquifolium is B.
nervosa Pursh, which is also found in woods from California northward
to Oregon and Washington. This is 9 to 17 inches in height, with a
conspicuously jointed stem and 11 to 17 bright-green leaflets.
Another species of Berberis, B. pinnata Lag., attains a height of
from a few inches to 5 feet, with from 5 to 9, but sometimes more,
leaflets, which are shining above and paler beneath. This resembles
aquifolium very closely and is often mistaken for it, but it is said
that it has not been used by the medical profession, unless in local
practice. The root also is about the same size as that of aquifolium,
while the root of nervosa is smaller.
Some works speak of Berberis repens Lindl. as another species often
collected with aquifolium, but in the latest botanical manuals no
such species is recognized, B. repens being given simply as a synonym
for B. aquifolium.
Description of Rootstock--The rootstock and roots of Oregon grape are
more or less knotty, in irregular pieces of varying lengths, and
about an inch or less in diameter, with brownish bark and hard and
tough yellow wood, showing a small pith and narrow rays. Oregon grape
root has a very bitter taste and very slight odor.
Collection, Prices and Uses--Oregon grape root is collected in autumn
and brings from 10 to 12 cents a pound. The bark should not be
removed from the rootstocks, as the Pharmacopoeia directs that such
roots be rejected.
This root has long been used in domestic practice thruout the West as
a tonic and blood purifier and is now official in the United States
The berries are used in making preserves and cooling drinks.
♥ FINE AREA VOCALIZZATA CON READSPEAKER
Prodotti straordinari per le tue lingue
online il primo numero di
l'anglorivista che mette il turbo al tuo inglese, l'unica con
pronuncia guidata e doppia traduzione italiana per capire sempre
Leggi il n. 1 gratis!
Acquista gli arretrati
Cosa dicono i lettori
- A chi serve
Total Audio, la versione del
corso 20 ORE fatta
apposta per chi come te passa tanto tempo viaggiando! Ideale per
chi fa il pendolare o compie ogni giorno lunghi tragitti sui
mezzi. Sfrutta anche tu i tempi morti per imparare o migliorare
il tuo inglese!
CORSI 20 ORE - I corsi di lingue più
completi per una preparazione di base superiore alla media in 5