Root. - Large and spindle-shaped, often forked. Stem. - About one foot high. Leaves. - Three in a whorl, divided into leaflets. Flowers. - Greenish-white, in a simple umbel. Fruit. - Bright red, berry-like.
This plant is well known by name, but is yearly becoming, more scarce. The aromatic root is so greatly valued in China for its supposed power of combating fatigue and old age that it can only be gathered by order of the emperor. The forked specimens are believed to be the most powerful, and their fancied likeness to the human form has obtained for the plant the Chinese title of Jin-chen (from which ginseng is a corruption), and the Indian one of Garan-toguen, both of which, strangely enough, are said to signify, like a man. The Canadian Jesuits first began to ship the roots of the American species to China, where they sold at about five dollars a pound. At present they are said to command about one-fifth of that price in the home market.