A small, smooth herb, 3 to 6 inches high from a deep-seated, globose, perennial tuber, one-half of an inch or less in diameter and very pungent to the taste. Leaves three, at the summit of the slender stem on petioles one-half to 2 inches long; each leaf with three to five oval or oblanceolate, sessile, blunt leaflets, 1 to 2 inches long and one-fourth to two-thirds of an inch wide, finely toothed on the margins. Flowers white, fifteen to twenty-five together in a solitary, stalked umbel; each flower about one-eighth of an inch broad or less. Petals five, spreading; stamens eight, alternate with the petals, styles usually three. Fruit a small, three-angled, yellow drupe about one-eighth of an inch broad (when the styles are only two-lobed, as is sometimes the case, the fruit is also two-lobed).
In woods and thickets, usually where the soil is moist, Nova Scotia to Wisconsin and Iowa, south to Georgia. Flowering in April and May or until early June.
Memoir 15 N. Y. State Museum
B. Dwarf Ginseng Or Groundnut - Panax trifolium
The True Ginseng (Panax quinquefo1ium Linnaeus) is much larger, 8 to 16 inches high, with a deep, simple compoimd or lobed tuberous root; leaflets 2 to 5 inches long, and the fruit, which is usually two-lobed, is bright crimson in color and nearly one-half of an inch broad.