Plants and Animals

Panax quinquefolius Ginseng

species photo
MNFI Staff
species photo
Susan R. Crispin

Key Characteristics

Perennial forb of rich woods; leaves palmately compound with five leaflets; flowers greenish-white, borne in a cluster on a tall, erect stalk; fruit a red berry; plant seriously threatened by illegal collection of the root.

Status and Rank

US Status:
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: G3G4 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from vulnerable to apparently secure
State Rank: S2S3 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from imperiled to vulnerable

Occurrences

CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Alcona12000
Allegan92015
Antrim31998
Barry102014
Benzie42012
Berrien122012
Branch21985
Calhoun12007
Cass102010
Clare11982
Clinton12013
Crawford11996
Eaton12001
Gogebic42001
Hillsdale21991
Ingham31978
Iosco11995
Jackson21979
Kalamazoo82008
Kalkaska12012
Kent11896
Leelanau62011
Manistee22012
Mason11985
Monroe21998
Montcalm22014
Muskegon12010
Oakland22001
Ottawa52010
St. Clair11900
St. Joseph11967
Tuscola42015
Van Buren62006
Washtenaw102014
Wayne12003
Wexford32010

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.

Habitat

Ginseng is found in rich shaded forests with loamy soils and heavy canopies. This species is highly threatened from collection of the root, commonly used in herbal remedies. Large colonies have completely vanished due to illegal poaching.

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Sugar maple, Eastern hemlock, beech, yellow birch, basswood, white pine, red oak, white cedar, white birch, ironwood, American elm, balsam fir, white baneberry, red baneberry, wild leek, wild sarsaparilla, jack-in-the-pulpit, blue cohosh, enchanter's nightshade, bunchberry, blue-bead lily, Canada mayflower, Solomon's seal, false spikenard, twisted stalk, bellwort, star flower, nodding trillium, common trillium, maiden hair fern, lady fern, rattlesnake fern, spinulose woodfern, stiff clubmoss, shining clubmoss, ground pine, striped maple, leatherwood, fly honeysuckle, and maple-leaf viburnum.

Management Recommendations

Preserve intact forests, avoid clear cutting, and reduce or eliminate poaching. Minimize development and fragmentation. When possible, leave large tracts of unharvested forests and allow natural processes to operate unhindered.

Survey Methods

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgment of the investigator.

  • Meander search

    • Survey Period: From first week of June to fourth week of October

References

Survey References

  • Elzinga, C.L., D.W. Salzer, and J.W. Willoughby. 1998. Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations. The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management, Denver. BLM Technical Reference 1730-1. 477pp.
  • Goff, G.F., G.A. Dawson, and J.J. Rochow. 1982. Site examination for Threatened and Endangered plant species. Environmental Management 6(4): 307-316
  • Nelson, J.R. 1984. Rare Plant Field Survey Guidelines. In: J.P. Smith and R. York. Inventory of rare and endangered vascular plants of California. 3rd Ed. California Native Plant Society, Berkeley. 174pp.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1986. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques For Impact Assessment. Natural Areas Journal 5(3):18-30.
  • Nelson, J.R. 1987. Rare Plant Surveys: Techniques for Impact Assessment. In: Conservation and management of rare and endangered plants. Ed. T.S. Elias. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 8pp.

Technical References

  • Coffin, B. and L. Pfannmuller, eds. 1988. Minnesota's Endangered Flora and Fauna. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. 473pp.
  • Cooperrider, T.S. 1995. The Dicotyledonae of Ohio Part 2. Linaceae through Campanulaceae. Ohio State University Press, Columbus. 656pp.
  • Gleason, H. A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second edition. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 910pp.
  • Gray, A. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany; eighth ed. Van Nostrand Reinghold, New York. 1632pp.
  • Holmgren, N.H. 1998. Illustrated Companion to Gleason and Cronquist's Manual. Illustrations of the vascular plants of Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 937pp.
  • Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region, 4th ed. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis. 921pp.
  • Voss, E. G. 1985. Michigan Flora. Part II. Dicots (Saururaceae-Cornaceae). Bulletin of the Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium. 724pp.