Panax quinquefolius L.

American Ginseng

Panax quinquefolius plant

Family - Araliaceae

Stems - Solitary from big root, to 50cm tall ,glabrous, green, erect, herbaceous, fragrant.

Leaves - Whorled, 3 or 4 in number, palmately 5-foliate. Petioles glabrous, to 10cm long. Petiolules to +/-2cm long, glabrous, with a shallow adaxial groove. Leaflets to +/-10cm long, +/-6cm broad, abruptly acuminate, double serrate, obovate, glabrous.

Panax quinquefolius leafletLeaflet.

Inflorescence - Solitary terminal pedunculate umbel with +/-25 flowers. Peduncle to +10cm long, glabrous. Pedicels to 3mm in flower, longer in fruit, glabrous.

Flowers - Petals whitish-green, +/-2mm long, 1.1mm broad, glabrous, slightly keeled abaxially, ovate to subulate, rounded at apex. Stamens 5, erect. Filaments glabrous, 2mm long, greenish-white. Anthers whitish, 1.1mm long. Style(s) green, glabrous, to 1.5mm long. Calyx green, glabrous, 2mm long in flower, 5-toothed. Teeth minute, broadly triangular, acute, .5mm long. Ovary inferior, 2-locular, with a nectariferous ring at apex. Drupes red when ripe, to 1cm broad, glabrous.

Panax quinquefolius fruitsDeveloping fruits.

Panax quinquefolius fruitsMaturing fruits.

Flowering - June - July.

Habitat - Wooded slopes, moist ground.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - "Ginseng", as this popular species is often called, is becoming very rare in Missouri and over much of its range due to over-collecting for medicinal use. The plant is believed to have medicinal uses ranging from an being an aphrodisiac to a cancer fighter. Because of the high demand for the plant, it is rarely found growing wild.
Populations of this species have been successfully cultivated and this may be its only chance for survival as a species.

Photographs taken in Ellington, MO., 6-29-01, and near Stegal Mountain, MO., 6-25-03 (DETenaglia); also near St. Louis (SRTurner).