This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Judging from an article that recently appeared in the Commercial Bulletin, of Boston, the North American ginseng root (Panax quinquefolium) is an important product, being still imported in large quantities from thence to China for medicinal purposes. We had an idea that the true Chinese ginseng (Panax Schinseng) even was at the present day comparatively little valued, as it is known by Europeans and by many Chinese to have no real properties, and that the North American species was still less valued, but the writer in the paper to which we refer says: "The traffic in the American root is now principally in the hands ■of a few Chinese merchants in San Francisco, and the average annual exports amount to about $700,000. The trade was once in the hands of Boston and Salem merchants, and subsequently in those of New York parties. Very little ginseng is received at the present time either in Boston or New York, but it would speedily find a market if any were produced. It is now dug principally in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. Several attempts have been made to cultivate the plant in North Carolina, but without success.
It grows best in a wild state in the forest, and the Indians say that from ten to thirty years are required for a root to mature."
We find the above in the London Gardener's Chronicle. The plant must be getting scarce. In a six weeks journeying through the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia last year, the writer did not collect a solitary wild specimen. That "attempts to cultivate it in North Carolina, but without success," may be true enough, as " attempts " go down there. The writer was seriously informed that lettuce could not be grown. At the foot of Iron Mountain, our party were entertained over night at the house of a Captain Forbush, on Rock Creek. In a well-cultivated garden of vegetables, chiefly under the direction of the good lady of the house, were many luxuriant vegetables which were popularly supposed not to be cultivable around there. In this garden was one cultivated plant of ginseng in admirable condition. There is no more reason why a thousand plants would not grow as well as one, and we made the memorandum to say so the first time we heard again the old story that "ginseng cannot be cultivated."