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American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), a State Special Concern plant, is found in rich, hardwood forests throughout state. Blooming occurs June through July; fruiting occurs September through October. The optimal identification period for this species is June through October.
- Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from dwarf ginseng (P. trifolius) by larger size of plants and the presence of leaflets with petiolules.
- Flower characteristics: Flowers greenish white, bisexual.
- Fruit characteristics: Red berry-like fruit.
- Leaf characteristics: Whorled, 3 to 5 palmately compound leaves; leaflets 3 to 5, toothed.
- Blooming phenology: June through July
- Fruiting phenology: September through October
- Optimum time to identify: June through October
- Growth form: Forb-erect
- Vegetative reproduction:
- Life cycle: Perennial
- Comments: Associated Species: Acer saccaharum, Tilia americana Carya cordiformis, Celtis occidentalis, Quercus rubra, Hydrophyllum virginianum, Laportea canadensis.
Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is on the "watch list." Watch list species have experienced, or are believed to have experienced, a statewide or range wide decline, but they are not currently tracked in the Natural Heritage Inventory (NHI) database. The watch list includes newly discovered species for which origin and rarity need to be determined, certain animals designated as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan, and species that were tracked in the past but proved more abundant, widespread or less vulnerable than previously thought. Although watch list species are not actively tracked by NHI, occurrences documented during surveys are often stored by NHI, as these species could be tracked in the future if there is further evidence of their decline.
|Federal Status in Wisconsin||none|
|Tracked by NHI||W|
Habitats and landscapes
The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.
General habitat information
- Habitat description: Found in rich, hardwood forests throughout state.
- Soils: Rich, humic soils.
This table lists the natural communities that are associated with American Ginseng. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).
This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for American Ginseng. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.
The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.
These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.
- Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
- Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes on or near known populations.
- Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species
- Maintain high forest canopy cover; this species requires shaded habitat conditions.
- Avoid rapid and dramatic reductions in canopy cover or basal area in wet areas to reduce risk of swamping.
Links to additional American Ginseng information
Other links related to vascular plants (all exit the DNR website)
- Wisconsin Vascular Plants
- Freckmann Herbarium
- Atlas of Wisconsin Prairie and Savanna Flora - Wisconsin State Herbarium
- USDA - NRCS Plants Database
- USGS Midwestern Wetland Flora - field office guide to plant species
- Cofrin Center for Biodiversity Herbarium
- Intermountain Herbarium Grasses of North America
- Orchids of Wisconsin
Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin.