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The American ginseng plant has leaves that grow in a circle around a straight stem. Yellowish-green, umbrella-shaped flowers grow in the center and produce red berries. Wrinkles around the neck of the root tell how old the plant is. This is important because American ginseng is not ready for use until it has grown for about 6 years. American ginseng is endangered in the wild. So it tends to be expensive. It is now being grown on farms to protect wild American ginseng from over-harvesting.
Like Asian ginseng, American ginseng is a light tan, gnarled root that often looks like a human body with stringy shoots for arms and legs. Indigenous Americans used the root as a stimulant and to treat headaches, fever, indigestion, and infertility. Ginseng remains one of the most popular herbs in the United States.
Information courtesy of Mount Sinai Hospital