Panax quinquefolius

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: American ginseng
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Araliaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Yellowish-green to greenish-white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Fruit: Showy


Best grown in moist, fertile, organically rich, medium moisture soils in part shade to full shade. Soils should not be allowed to dry out. DO NOT DIG PLANTS FROM THE WILD. This species is endangered.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Panax quinquefolius, commonly called American ginseng, is native to but now rare in Missouri where it most frequently occurs on north-facing wooded slopes in the eastern Ozark region (Steyermark). It is an erect perennial growing to 10-15" tall. Each plant has three long-stalked, horse-chestnut-like, compound leaves. Each leaf has 5 (infrequently 3) toothed, pointed, elliptic-obovate leaflets to 5" long. A solitary umbel of small yellowish-green to greenish-white flowers arises on a long stalk from the central leaf axil in late spring to early summer. Flowers are mildly fragrant but not particularly showy. Each flower umbel gives way to a cluster of red berries. Roots are thick, aromatic and swollen in the middle. Roots of the native Chinese species (Panax ginseng) have been used medicinally in China for centuries. As demand for ginseng roots in China began to exceed supply, export of this American species to China began to occur. American ginseng has unfortunately become endangered or in some cases extinct in the wild in most of its original eastern to Midwestern North American range due to over-harvesting of its roots. American ginseng is now sometimes commercially grown in the U.S. for export.

Genus name comes from the Greek word panakes meaning all-healing or a panacea for its reported aphrodisiacal and medicinal uses.

Specific epithet means five-leaved.


No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

An interesting and increasingly rare native plant for shade areas. Best in herb gardens, native plant gardens, woodland gardens or shade gardens. Generally not grown in borders due to lack of sufficient ornamental interest.