On one of our plant identification walks at Sage Mountain, we ran across this little fella. Although it looks like a sapling that might have sprung up overnight, it’s actually taken five years just to grow this big.
The plant is Sacred American Ginseng, and it is highly sought after for its properties to work as an “adaptogen” in the body. Adaptogens boost immune function and strengthen the body’s resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue. Although the leaves are sometimes used, it is the root or rhizome of the plant that is highly valued for its medicinal properties.
Many Native American tribes considered American Ginseng as the most sacred of herbs. Demand for the plant has caused it to become rare in the wild, and collection of wild plants is prohibited by law. American Ginseng is highly sought after in Asia, where it is often used in traditional Chinese medicine, and it is being cultivated here in the United States and exported for this purpose.