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Finding American Ginseng in Eastern Forests

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Preparing the American Ginseng Root
Ginseng Roots

Ginseng Roots

Steve Nix/ About Forestry

Ginseng roots should be dried on wire-netting shelves in a heated, well-ventilated room. Since overheating destroys color and texture, begin drying the roots at a temperature between 60 and 80°F for the first few days, then gradually increase it to about 90°F for three to six weeks. Turn the drying roots frequently. Store the roots in a dry, airy, rodent-proof container just above freezing.

The shape and age of a ginseng root influences its marketability. A root that resembles a person is fairly rare and worth a lot of money. The most marketable roots are old, variously shaped and forked, moderate in size, stubby but tapering, off-white, light in weight but firm when dried, and have numerous, closely formed rings of wrinkles.

Exported American ginseng roots are sold mainly to the Chinese market. There is also a growing domestic market as people are using more and more ginseng as an herbal product.

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