Fine Art

Panax quinquefolius

Panax quinquefolius (US FWS)

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Campanulids
Ordo: Apiales

Familia: Araliaceae
Subfamilia: Aralioideae
Genus: Panax
Species: Panax quinquefolius

Panax quinquefolius L., Sp. Pl. 2: 1058. 1753, as "quinquefolium".


Aralia quinquefolia (L.) Decne. & Planch., Rev. Hort., IV, 3: 105. 1854.
Ginseng quinquefolium (L.) Alph.Wood, Amer. Bot. Fl.: 142. 1871.


Panax cuneatus Raf., Actes Soc. Linn. Bordeaux 6: 286. 1834.
Panax quinquefolius var. americanus Raf., Med. Fl. 2: 52. 1830.
Panax quinquefolius var. obovatus Raf., Med. Fl. 2: 52. 1830.
Panax quinuefolius var. americanus Raf., Med. Fl. 2: 52. 1830.
Panax quinuefolius var. obovatus Raf., Med. Fl. 2: 52. 1830.
Panax americanus (Raf.) Raf., New Fl. 4: 58. 1838.
Panax americanus var. elatus Raf., New Fl. 4: 58. 1838.
Panax americanus var. obovatus (Raf.) Raf., New Fl. 4: 58. 1838.

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Northern America
Alabama; Arkansas; Connecticut; Delaware; District of Columbia; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Masachusettes; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Oklahoma; Ontario; Pennsylvania; Quebec; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus II: 1058. Reference page.
USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. [1]


Govaerts, R. et al. 2018. Panax quinquefolius in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2018 Nov. 23. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2018. Panax quinquefolius. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2018. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published online. Accessed: 2018 Nov. 23. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2018. Panax quinquefolius. Published online. Accessed: Nov. 23 2018.
The Plant List 2013. Panax quinquefolius in The Plant List Version 1.1. Published online. Accessed: 2018 Nov. 23. 2018. Panax quinquefolius. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 23 Nov. 2018.

Vernacular names
dansk: Amerikansk Ginseng
English: American ginseng
español: Ginseng Americano
suomi: Amerikanginseng
français: Ginseng Américain
日本語: アメリカニンジン
português: jinsão
svenska: Amerikansk Ginseng
中文: 花旗参

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, Panacis quinquefolis) is a herbaceous perennial plant in the ivy family, commonly used as an herb in traditional Chinese medicine. It is native to eastern North America, though it is also cultivated in China.[4][5] Since the 18th century, American ginseng (P. quinquefolius) has been primarily exported to Asia, where it is highly valued for its cooling and sedative medicinal effects. It is considered to represent the cooling yin qualities, while Asian ginseng embodies the warmer aspects of yang.[6]


The aromatic root of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) resembles a small parsnip that forks as it matures. The plant grows 6 to 18 in (15 to 46 cm) tall, usually bearing three leaves, each with three to five leaflets, 2 to 5 in (5 to 13 cm) long.
Range map of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius).

American ginseng can be found in much of the eastern and central United States and in part of southeastern Canada.[7][8] It is found primarily in deciduous forests of the Appalachian and Ozark regions of the United States.[9] American ginseng is found in full shade environments in these deciduous forests underneath hardwoods.[10]

In the United States, American ginseng is generally not listed as an endangered species, but it has been declared under threat by some states. States recognizing American ginseng as endangered include Maine and Rhode Island. States recognizing American ginseng as vulnerable are New York and Pennsylvania. States recognizing American ginseng as threatened are Michigan, New Hampshire, and Virginia. Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Tennessee recognize American ginseng as a special concern.[7][11]

In Canada, American ginseng is listed as endangered nationally, particularly in Ontario, and as threatened in Quebec (the highest risk categories in both provinces).[12]
Chemical components
Chemical structure of protopanaxadiol

Like Panax ginseng, American ginseng contains dammarane-type ginsenosides, or saponins, as the major biologically active constituents. Dammarane-type ginsenosides include two classifications: 20(S)-protopanaxadiol (PPD) and 20(S)-protopanaxatriol (PPT). American ginseng contains high levels of Rb1, Rd (PPD classification), and Re (PPT classification) ginsenosides—higher than that of P. ginseng in one study.[13]

When taken orally, PPD-type ginsenosides are mostly metabolized by intestinal bacteria (anaerobes) to PPD monoglucoside, 20-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-20(S)-protopanaxadiol (M1).[14] In humans, M1 is detected in plasma starting seven hours after intake of PPD-type ginsenosides and in urine starting 12 hours after intake. These findings indicate M1 is the final metabolite of PPD-type ginsenosides.[15]

M1 is referred to in some articles as IH-901,[16] and in others as compound-K.[15]
Traditional medicine

The plant's root and leaves were used in traditional medicine by Native Americans. Since the 18th century, the roots were collected by "sang hunters" and sold to Chinese or Hong Kong traders, who paid high prices for particularly old wild roots.[17]

There is no evidence that American ginseng is effective against the common cold.[18]

Cold-fX is a product derived from the roots of North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). The makers of Cold-fX were criticized for making health claims about the product that have never been tested or verified scientifically. Health Canada's review of the scientific literature confirmed that this is not a claim that the manufacturer is entitled to make.[19]
Adverse effects

Individuals requiring anticoagulant therapy such as warfarin should avoid use of ginseng.[18] It is not recommended for individuals with impaired liver or renal function, or during pregnancy or breastfeeding.[18] Other adverse effects include: headaches, anxiety, trouble sleeping and an upset stomach.[18]

Recent studies have shown that through the many cultivated procedures that American ginseng is grown, fungal molds, pesticides, and various metals and residues have contaminated the crop. Though these contaminating effects are not considerably substantial, they do pose health concerns that could lead to neurological problems, intoxication, cardiovascular disease and cancer.[20]

American ginseng was formerly particularly widespread in the Appalachian and Ozark regions (and adjacent forested regions such as Pennsylvania, New York and Ontario). Due to its popularity and unique habitat requirements, the wild plant has been overharvested, as well as lost through destruction of its habitat, and is thus rare in most parts of the United States and Canada.[21] Ginseng is also negatively affected by deer browsing, urbanization, and habitat fragmentation.[22] It can be grown commercially, under artificial shade, woods-cultivated, or wild-simulated methods, and is usually harvested after three to four years, depending on cultivation technique; the wild-simulated method often requires up to 10 years before harvest.

Ontario, Canada, is the world's largest producer of North American ginseng.[23][24] Marathon County, Wisconsin, accounts for about 95% of production in the United States.[25] Woods-grown American ginseng programs in Vermont, Maine, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, West Virginia, and Kentucky,[26] have been encouraging the planting of ginseng both to restore natural habitats and to remove pressure from any remaining wild ginseng.

The name ginseng derives from the Chinese herbalism term, jen-shen.[27] Other Chinese names are huaqishen (simplified Chinese: 花旗参; traditional Chinese: 花旗參; pinyin: huāqíshēn; Cantonese Yale: fākèihsām; lit. 'Flower Flag ginseng') or xiyangshen (simplified Chinese: 西洋参; traditional Chinese: 西洋參; pinyin: xīyángshēn; Cantonese Yale: sāiyèuhngsām; lit. 'west ocean ginseng').

The word “panax” is derived from the Greek ‘Panakos’ ( panacea), in reference to the various benefits attributed to the herb. The word “ginseng” is said to mean “the wonder of the world”.[28]
Conservation status

American ginseng is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to control international trade.[29]

Wikispecies has information related to Panax quinquefolius.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Panax quinquefolius.

Panax_quinquefolius L., from "American medical botany being a collection of the native medicinal plants of the United States, containing their botanical history and chemical analysis, and properties and uses in medicine, diet and the arts" by Jacob Bigelow,1786/7-1879. Publication in Boston by Cummings and Hilliard,1817-1820.
"Panax quinquefolius". NatureServe Explorer. NatureServe. Retrieved 2007-07-03.
"Appendices | CITES". Retrieved 2022-01-14.
Xiang, Q.; Lowry, P. P. (2007). "Araliaceae". In Wu, Z. Y.; Raven, P. H.; Hong, D. Y. (eds.). Flora of China (PDF). Vol. 13. St. Louis, MO: Missouri Botanical Garden Press. p. 491. ISBN 9781930723597.
"Panax quinquefolius". eFloras.
"History of Ginseng". Ontario Ginseng Growers Association. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
U.S. Government, USDA. "Panax quinquefolius L." Plants Database. USDA. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
"Taxon: Pana quinquefolius L." National Plant Germplasm System. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
U.S. Government, Fish and Wildlife Service. "American Ginseng". International Affairs. United States Fish and Wildlife Services. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
Anderson, Kat. "American Ginseng" (PDF). Plant Guide. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
"Connecticut's Endangered, Threatened and Special Concern Species 2015". State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Bureau of Natural Resources. Retrieved 31 December 2017. (Note: This list is newer and updated from the one used by
Canada, Environment and Climate Change (11 March 2010). "American ginseng: non-detriment findings". aem.
Zhu, S.; Zou, K.; Fushimi, H.; Cai, S.; Komatsu, K. (2004). "Comparative study on triterpene saponins of ginseng drugs". Planta Medica. 70 (7): 666–677. doi:10.1055/s-2004-827192. PMID 15303259.
Hasegawa, H.; Sung, J.-H.; Matsumiya, S.; Uchiyama, M. (1996). "Main ginseng saponin metabolites formed by intestinal bacteria". Planta Medica. 62 (5): 453–457. doi:10.1055/s-2006-957938. PMID 8923812.
Tawab, M. A.; Bahr, U.; Karas, M.; Wurglics, M.; Schubert-Zsilavecz, M. (2003). "Degradation of ginsenosides in humans after oral administration". Drug Metabolism and Disposition. 31 (8): 1065–1071. doi:10.1124/dmd.31.8.1065. PMID 12867496.
Oh, S.-H.; Lee, B.-H. (2004). "A ginseng saponin metabolite-induced apoptosis in HepG2 cells involves a mitochondria-mediated pathway and its downstream caspase-8 activation and Bid cleavage". Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. 194 (3): 221–229. doi:10.1016/j.taap.2003.09.011. PMID 14761678.
There is More to a Forest than Trees. (Summer 2002)
"Asian ginseng". National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, US National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. September 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
Charlie Gillis (2007-03-26). "COLD-fX catches the sniffles again". Maclean's Magazine. Archived from the original on 2012-02-07.
Wang, Zengui; Huang, Linfang (March 2015). "Panax quinquefolius: An overview of the contaminants". Phytochemistry Letters. 11: 89–94. doi:10.1016/j.phytol.2014.11.013.
Beattie-Moss, M. (2006-06-19). "Roots and Regulations - The unfolding story of Pennsylvania ginseng". Pennstate news.
McGraw, J. "Population Biology and Conservation Ecology of American Ginseng". West Virginia University.
"Canadian Ginseng - It is in our Roots". Ontario Ginseng Growers Association. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
Recovery Strategy for American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) in Canada - 2015 (Proposed). Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series (Report). Environment Canada. 17 April 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
"Ginseng Prices at Highest in Decades". The Post Crescent. October 19, 2010.
"Ginseng program". Kentucky Agriculture Department. 2017. Archived from the original on 2010-06-26. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
"Ginseng". Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper. 2018. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
"Benefits of American Ginseng: Dosage & Safety – Botanical Institute". Retrieved 2021-08-27.
"Appendices I, II and III". Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2020-01-30.

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