American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is a plant in the ivy family native to North America. It lives in rich shaded forests with loamy soils and heavy canopies.
Because of their resemblance to small, gnarled human bodies, ginseng roots were historically believed to cure many health problems. The roots of both American and Asian Ginseng (P. ginseng) are still heavily harvested today for use in Chinese and herbal medicine. The plants contain ginsenosides which are thought to have medicinal properties.
Both American and Asian Ginseng used to be widespread in the wild but are now suffering due to overharvesting and habitat destruction and fragmentation. Red List assessments for these species are urgently required to guide conservation action.