Hello guys n gals!! Im one of the people yall joke about. I had went down to visit a friend for the weekend. I couldnt sleep. So I decided to watch some TV. They have a streaming service. I somehow i ended up streaming Appalachian Outlaws. I know its reality tv so very little is real lol. But it was so entertaining I couldnt stop watching. I mean the Brett Michaels look a like was hilarious. Anyways that led me to googling ginseng info. The more I googled ginseng info. I was almost certain I had a hollow on our family farm that probably had ginseng.
Couple weeks later. I went to our farm confident I knew what ginseng looked like. I went up the hollow i suspected had it. Immediately I made first mistake. A little embarrassing but I read the compass wrong somehow lol. I think i was already excited. I knew to go to the north or east side. I still dont know how i got it wrong. I started down the wrong side I was seeing sugar maples. I saw few ferns I knew it was only a matter of time. Long story short I took pics of about 10 virginia creepers n several tree saplings that i was certain were ginseng. After going home showing Dad and brother. I realized none of it was ginseng. Key point I had read but forgot to look for in my excitement was the way everything on ginseng comes to a point. Leaves come to a point on the prong. Prongs come to a point on the stem.
2nd evening after work. Ego bruised but still thinking I had good location. I went to the other side of the hollow. This is when i discovered my compass error yesterday. I was now really on east-north east slope. Im still amazed at the difference in habitat from this side to just 50-100+-yards to other slope/side of the hollow. It looks totally different. Immediately the Stinging nettle shows it self lol. No nettle on other side. I start seeing other companions. My confidence grows Im looking really hard at this point. BOOM!!! HECK YEAH!! I had found a patch of ginseng!!! It was such a adrenaline rush. I race dirt oval karts. It was like how i feel winning a race. It kept building every plant i noticed. I found three 4 prongs, two 3 prongs, and coulple young plants. I went 2 more evenings found more. Ive found probably 17-20 plants in that hollow. Ive searched it all pretty good except in nettles. But Im sure im not that good at spotting it as a rookie. So its possible theres more plants ive missed. Nettles are spread throughout that side of the hollow. But sections of it the nettles are thick. I found one plant in them because i spotted the red berries. Some of the plants still had flowers 1.5 weeks ago so if more develop red berries that are in the thick nettles. I may find more. I havent dug of it. I dont plan on it. This way I have some seeds from wild plants to plant each year.
That gives you my brief ginseng history. Im not the stereotypical person coming from watching Appalachian Outlaws looking to get rich. Dont get me the value of ginseng adds to it. But Ive been into growing super hot-hot peppers for years now. What gets me excited about that hobby was growing using newer methods, like grow bags and aeroponics. Now that ive found ginseng on our farm and I know its not completely impossible to do in good locations. The challenge of successfully growing wild-wild simulated ginseng is exciting to me. Ive ordered seed from a few different sources to try to grow my own adding up in total to about 3 pounds. Hopefully I can transplant some more wild plants into my location.
Leads me to hunting ginseng. Not for selling to get money. But to get several wild plants from different locations to diversify the genetics of the plants and seeds on my farm. So far im having no luck finding it. I know the companion plants and trees. North-east slopes. Moist rich but well drained soil. My question/problem is how do I locate these type areas. Ive downloaded google earth. Is there a way to spot these areas on there. Im finding ferns but locations that moist n rich that have the companion plants Im not finding these areas. Does ginseng grow reguraly outside of these ideal habitats?
Thank you for taking time to read my post. Any help will be appreciated.
Welcome to the family! I'll admit to trying to extract a young buckeye my first trip out... It certainly is exciting to finally recognize that first ginseng plant, and then train your eyes to see them more quickly. And congratulations on finding some plants on your own property.
Now to your big question - how to locate areas to focus your search for wild ginseng. The best way is to lace up your boots and get to stomping through the woods. Yes, do focus on the NE slopes, and especially in areas with the normal companion plants. But keep your eyes peeled wherever you are. On a recent scouting trip, I saw several mature 3-prongers growing in flat areas with predominantly pine and hemlock trees. I was crossing between "favorable" slopes and ravines, and boom, there they were on flat ground. In the wide open. You can of course use mapping programs such as Google Maps (
) that have a topography feature. I don't know if Google Earth has topo maps. I always consult topos before heading into the woods, first to find those north/northeast/east facing slopes, but just as important, to plot out my hike in and out of the area. It doesn't take long for you to learn to recognize on a topo map the slopes/ravines you don't want to climb up out of...
And when you're out stomping through the woods, keep in mind you can cover a LOT of territory without ever seeing companion plants or ginseng. And then all of sudden, you take a left turn up a small ravine, and boom, there's a collection of everything you're looking for - multiple different companion plant varieties, and of course, ginseng in their midst.
And so yes, ginseng does grow outside of the expected habitats, and some of the plants I've found in odd areas are thriving. But I would always play the odds and look for the tried and true terrains and companion plants. Case in point: I was hiking a popular trail in the national forest near where I live, and noticed a clump of maiden hair ferns growing at ground level on the south side of the trail and at the base of a north facing ridge that went up at a 45 degree angle right off of the trail. I looked higher up the ridge and saw another clump of maiden hair 25 yards up, and so climbed up to it. There were 4 mature 3-prongers in the middle of the ferns, hidden from eyes below! And right off of a popular trail! I planted a dozen seeds and left the plants as I could not take them legally.
One more point. Growing ginseng is a long term project and fraught with peril, but it sure is rewarding to see the seedlings start popping up, and then mature year after year. But there are many things that can go wrong, so I would certainly do as much research as possible before sinking any real money into it, and then proceed with caution, learning as you go. I'll go ahead and tell you that ginseng doesn't grow well at all on a northwest facing slop that is mostly oaks and sassafras...
As for diversifying your collection, you can get a handful of seeds right here from Wild Grown and save yourself a lot of time and trouble. I believe these seeds come from farms in the northern U.S., and would represent different strains that what most of us see in our local woods. Not that you shouldn't locate properties you can legally hunt on and get to stomping, but if you're wanting to get some diversity going quickly, you may want to consider the stratified seeds you can get right here.