Grades of Wild American Ginseng

How we grade our ginseng at Bat Cave Botanicals

 

American ginseng has been sought after since the 1700s, and Asian ginseng has been valuable for thousands of years. Wild american ginseng is considered to be the best in the world, and these days are considerably more valuable than commercially farmed ginseng or Asian varieties.

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The price of ginseng varies from year to year, but the one constant is the demand for wild ginseng roots with potency & ‘character’. The harvest region, season, age of the root, size, condition (fresh or dried) and many other factors contribute to the value of ginseng. The price of our ginseng roots are determined by our customer’s demand for rare & meticulously handled roots that are ethically harvested as well as inspected & certified by the state.

By Federal & State Laws, it is only legal to sell plants 5 years or older. This means that there needs to be an intact neck on the root showing that there are 5 or more node scars, in order to prove the legal age.

1) Age Range: When the neck is still attached, it can be easy to count the scars on the neck, and estimate an accurate age range.  Sometimes, there is  damage to the neck of the roots, thereby making it harder to figure an approximate scar count and age range. Many root no longer possess their original neck, therefore it is only possible to estimate the age. Sometimes, extra gnarly roots have necks that twist and have many roots attached. This can be typical to excellent wild ginseng roots. Experts say that the older the root, the harder it is to morphologically confirm the age by counting the bud scale scars.

2) Root Size: Superior quality wild ginseng roots vary greatly in size, from small to extra large or extra long (meaning the long hair like feeder roots). Root size is not always a judge of value, as harsh environments often produce very old roots that are quite small in size. This is obvious when there are long ‘necks’ on small plants.

3) Root Shape: Wild ginseng can range in shape from long & slender, forked, double & triple or more roots from one neck, to “bulby” & very thick. The prized wild man root is a root that resembles the shape of a person, with or without genitalia. Many other kinds of gnarly shapes are popular as well, usually formed by the harsh environment and shows the character of the ginseng.

4) Color: Root color varies, depending on the soil in which the plant grows. Black & very dark soil is by far the best soil for ginseng as it likes to grow under trees that drop their leaves every year. This results in a dark rich loamy soil, which has a tendency to color the roots dark.

5) Skin Texture: Wild ginseng usually has a densely wrinkled texture. It is important that the dark soil in which it grew be apparent in these wrinkles. This is a major factor in premium roots.
6) Taste or region: Similar to wine & climates, different regions produce different tastes of ginseng. Taste does not necessarily affect the potency of the ginseng.

 

Grade A

Age : 8 – 20 years of age

Size : small to medium size premium roots with lots of fine feeder roots attached

Shape : various shapes and often a mix of slender, or bulby roots

Color : medium dark to dark, with black soil in the wrinkles

Skin Texture : wrinkly to knarly
Grade AA

Age : 12 – 20 years of age

Size : small to large roots of excellent quality with lots of fine feeder roots attached

Shape : mix of slender, bulby and multi-bulbed roots

Color : medium dark to dark, with black soil in the wrinkles

Skin Texture : wrinkly to knarly
Grade AAA

Age : 15 – 60+ years of age

Size : medium, large & extra large superior quality roots with extra long fine roots

Shape : exceptional roots with character, form & beauty

Color : medium dark to dark, with black soil in the wrinkles

Skin Texture : wrinkly &  knarly

Fresh Wild American Ginseng ~ Ethically Harvested in Small Batches

 

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Bat Cave Botanicals is now offering Ethically Harvested, Fresh Wild American Ginseng! The way we do this is by pre-selling custom small batch quantities of very quality fresh wild ginseng roots. Once the order is placed, we carefully hand harvest the largest roots from a healthy wild ginseng population, in accordance with ethical harvest guidelines as well as our own stewardship standards. This allows us to offer the best quality product without ‘over-consuming’ a precious limited resource.

4 oz of Small Batch Fresh Wild American Ginseng

8 oz of Small Batch Fresh Wild American Ginseng


Bat Cave Botanicals ETSY Shop

Bat Cave Botanicals @ EBAY

 

 

Bat Cave Botanicals complies with all Federal & North Carolina regulations concerning the harvest, certification & sale of Wild American Ginseng.

 

How to Age Wild American Ginseng Roots

BCB ~ Ginseng Age Diagram

How to determine the age of an American Ginseng Root

 

There are two widely used methods of determining the age of Wild American Ginseng aka Panax quinquifolius. One method is by counting the leaf prongs (or leaflets) on the live plant at the time of harvest.  This is only used by the harvester to determine if the ginseng plant is legally mature.  This is only a very general method of estimating the the plant’s age. All states require that a plant must have three or more prongs in order to harvest. For more information on the method, please see the official US Fish & Wildlife method & the WildGrown’ Article.

Scar count method

When it comes to dry ginseng roots, the best way to estimate  the minimum age is the ‘scar count method’. This means to count the number of ‘scale scars’ on the rhizome (or neck) of the root. A single ‘bud scar’ is produced every autumn after the yellow plant stem falls to the ground, so for each year the plant produces a top, there is a scar left on the rhizome.

It is a matter of personal preference whether to start at the top of the neck (the stem bud) or the bottom of the neck (the root collar). I find that since ‘bottom to top’ is the way the root grows & develops, it makes sense to me to count it that way too.

These methods are only used to estimate the minimum age of a plant or root. The ‘top’ of the ginseng plant changes from year to year, and may not reflect the size of the root below ground. The ginseng root itself may have a ‘cumulative dormancy’ of many years by the time it is harvested.

Beyond a certain age, it becomes increasingly unlikely that the correct age of the ginseng plant could be morphologically confirmed**

** Anderson, R.C., J.S. Fralish, J.E. Armstrong and P.K. Benjamin. 1993.The ecology and biology of Panax quinquefolium L. (Araliaceae) in Illinois. American Midland Naturalist 129:357-372.


Why is age important?

Ginseng is a very unusual plant in that it really can live to be 50, 80 or even hundreds of years old.* Unlike most other herbaceous perennial plants, most of which have a fairly defined life cycle, the species of Panax (Ginseng) has been known all over the world to reach great lengths of age & longevity. It has been revered for centuries for it’s mysterious ability to stop or reverse aging the folks who are privileged enough to take it. (In the old days, only emperors, government officials & royal physicians could afford it.)

Both traditional beliefs & science say the older the wild ginseng root, the more ‘potent’ it’s active properties. These active ingredients called ‘ginsenosides’ become more concentrated in older roots. These ginsenosides are responsible for the myriad & mysterious health & longevity giving  properties which makes ginseng so renowned. Of these gifts, virility & ‘performance’ are the most publicized attributes in the west, however there are many more far-reaching benefits in the eastern cultures. Like anti aging, mental sharpness, overall vigor, hence the roots popularity with athletes & students alike.

In Chinese Herbal Medicine, there are herbs that help you recover from illnesses, as well as herbs that nourish healthy individuals & promote general wellness. Ginseng is in the unique position of being in both categories.

Consumption or Display

Connoisseurs of wild ginseng consider ‘old’ wild ginseng  to be of the rare & and of the highest value due to it’s rarity. For the purposes of consumption, older wild roots are the pinnacle of the active compounds & benefits, and will impart to the taker the vitality & longevity that the root possesses.

When it comes to collectors who like to display wild ginseng either fresh or dried, collector quality Wild American ginseng is very rare. Especially Wild American ginseng roots in good condition, because the likelihood of an exceptional root reaching the hands of a collector in exceptional condition is fairly slim. Rough handling during the harvesting process & poor techniques used in packing & transporting the roots renders the majority of wild american ginseng roots useless to the collector.

Also because many of these roots are particularly beautiful. Particular shapes like ‘bulby with a long neck’, or man shaped roots are particularly esteemed & high in value.

Wild Ozark Shop

Our good friend Madison Woods has been featuring our Ethically Harvested Wild American Ginseng Roots at her Wild Ozark Shop! She also has a newsletter where you can sign up for updates about our premium ginseng roots for sale. Her shop also features her books, DVDs, ginseng coffee, and other herbal products!

WO Shop Now

More about Madison:

“My name is Madison Woods & I’m an author/photographer/naturalist who lives way off the beaten path in northwest Arkansas with my husband, horses, chickens, cats & dogs. Wild Ozark, LLC is located in the Ozarks between Fayetteville and Harrison, AR. We don’t have a “real-life” storefront, but we have Wild Ozark’s Online Shopwhere you can find our our books, free articles and my ginseng balms and ointments. You can also keep up and more at our FB Wild Ozark page.”

Displaying Ginseng Roots

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Ginseng holds a lot of value and meaning for many cultures. It is very popular as a gift for family & loved ones, and has so many uses.

Many people eat Ginseng roots for their health & wellness value, but with special roots it is often displayed for its beauty. Especially in Asia, old, wild and large roots are appreciated for their form & beauty, and especially the rare man shaped roots.

Particular roots that are rare & valuable, or roots that have a special meaning can be displayed in a couple of of ways. I have seen some very nice examples of dry displays, and liquid displays.


11月6日,在琶洲的中洲大厦举行了一场吉林长白山参王拍卖会,最高参王以188万被拍得.杨勤摄 黄佩文字

Dry Roots on Display

Some dried roots are preserved in glass top cases for viewing, and sometimes are sewn to fabric on a board. This is a lovely way to display roots if they are properly handled & processed.


Liquid Displays

01c06150e73947e3a49111a18b46ddd5 Liquid displays might be more popular since you can view them, and depending on the alcohol used, have a ‘ginseng wine’ for special occasions.

This is usually done by cleaning fresh roots and submerging them in alcohol. There seem to be a few different methods for this, but anything from pure grain alcohol or strong wine should have enough alcohol to preserve the roots in a sterile environment.

Roots that are preserved in strong wine will look fresh, even though the alcohol dehydrates the roots & replaces the water.

Roots that are placed in pure alcohol will eventually create a ‘tincture’ similar to what herbalists make for medicine. With ‘fleshy’ roots especially it is important to use a very strong proof.

Give the Gift of Ginseng

 

 

BCB Holiday Promo 1 (Copy)Wild American Ginseng, that is!

 

Bat Cave Botanicals wishes you and yours a very happy holidays!

To celebrate this special time of year, we are offering some great deals & extras for you this holiday season. We are holding some exclusive deals in both of our shops this year!

We have many new ginseng listings, just for the holidays. Premium roots that are the perfect gift for friends, family, or even yourself! We are even offering special gift packaging as an added bonus.


Bat Cave Botanicals @ ETSY
~ Ginseng Specials
~ Free Gift of Wild Ginseng Leaf with Purchase (quantities are limited)

For the month of December, we will include .25 ounce of wild organic ginseng leaf with your ginseng order {a $25 value}, while supplies lasts. See this listing for more information about Wild Ginseng leaf & it’s uses. This offer is available in our ETSY store only!


Bat Cave Botanicals @ eBay
~ ‘No Reserve’ Ginseng Auctions
~ Ginseng Root auctions starting at $.99

For the month of December, we will be running ‘NO RESERVE’ auctions as well as a few special auctions, only in our eBay store.

 

 

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ROOT ANATOMY: WILD GINSENG

Wild Ginseng Root Anatomy

Wild Ginseng Root Anatomy ~ batcavebotanicals.com

Anatomy of a Wild American Ginseng Root

The neck or rhizome is actually an ‘underground stem’, made up of the ‘bud scale scars’ left each year after the yellow top dies back in the fall. The neck is sometimes referred to as ‘the twirl’ because the scars are always 90 degrees opposite from the previous scar, giving it an interesting ‘spiral’ pattern.

The bud is located at the very top of the neck, and will eventually be the part of the plant you see above ground during the growing season.

The scars are also referred to as ‘bud scale scars’. Each one is where the plant grows it’s top and dies back at the end of the season. A single ‘bud scar’ is produced every fall after the yellow plant stem falls to the ground, so for each year the plant produces a top, there is a scar left on the rhizome.

The root collar is where the neck meets the main root. If counting from bottom to top, This should count as year one, when counting the bud scars. Depending on how many bulbs extend from one neck, there may be more than one root collar.

The main root is considered a ‘fleshy taproot’ and operates as the nutrient storage & absorption organ for the ginseng plant. This is the most valued part of the plant for medicinal purposes.

The tail roots & fiber roots are the small roots that branch out from the main root. These serve as support, moisture & feeding roots, and help the entire plant function in it’s often harsh environment.

AMERICAN GINSENG: 101

AMERICAN GINSENG: 101

Wild American Ginseng is a highly prized & sought after crop in markets around the world. It has been culturally important for it’s value as a medicinal herb for centuries. Wild ginseng is often cherished & appreciated for it’s ‘beauty & wild character’ by those who collect ginseng for consumption or display. Farmed ginseng from the US & Canada is heavily utilized in the worldwide health  industry as a key ingredient.

 

WILD GINSENG

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Unlike farmed or ‘cultivated’ roots, wild ginseng grows in rich forest soils often on steep & rocky slopes. In the Southern Appalachians, this rich environment hosts a very unique plant community. Wild ginseng is found along with other rare plants such as maidenhair & rattlesnake ferns, bloodroot, trilliums & goldenseal, along with less ‘friendly’ species like stinging nettles, poison ivy & ferocious briars. This specialized environment causes wild ginseng roots to have a character which reflects these challenging growing conditions.

Wild ginseng roots have certain desirable qualities that ‘farmed’ roots do not possess. Characteristics such as interesting & complex shapes, as well as stress rings & wrinkles create a ‘wild character’ or appearance, which is especially evident with older roots. This results in wild ginseng roots that often possess interesting & bizarre shapes, and sometimes even resembles a human figure. In the wild ginseng market, size is not always the sole indicator of value, as many factors including age, shape, and even ‘beauty’ can contribute to ‘grade and overall price on the international market.

 

FARMED GINSENG

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Farmed (or cultivated) roots grow in tilled beds with regular applications of fertilizers &  amendments, that promotes rapid growth and provides resistance to insects and diseases.  This farmed ginseng ‘crop’ is often grown in a very high density artificial environment under shade cloth,  and is harvested after only 4 or 5 years. This results in roots that look like quite different and lack the ‘natural characteristics’ of wild ginseng.  

There is a ‘middle ground’ however; the beginnings of a ‘woods grown’ or ‘naturally cultivated’ movement have become an important factor in the future of ginseng as a species. These parcels of forest land are used to create an important ‘agroforestry’ or ‘non timber agriculture’ income for landowners & families. The importance of this is to help relieve pressure on the wild harvested roots by providing the international market with another option for this desirable commodity. By growing ginseng in an almost wild environment, it can produce a product that looks & tastes very similar to wild ginseng roots.

Farmed roots have become the mainstay of the international ginseng market, with these ginseng farms producing more than 95% of the world’s annual ginseng crop*. Products like energy drinks & health supplements rely heavily on these farmed ginseng roots for ‘bulk ingredient’. These products are crucial to the international ginseng trade & overall market. Both farm grown & wild ginseng provide the US with a very high value commodity crop for the international market.

 

*Ginseng Board of Wisconsin

Ginseng Article that features a Bat Cave Botanicals Man Root!

This turned out to be a really nice article from Laura Moss @ MNN.com…..  Martin & I are glad to have contributed. We think the whole story does a good job representing the position we take when it comes to stewardship, poaching & value of ginseng.

Our “She Root” was featured as an example of one of the most valued types of ginseng root, the scarce & sought after ‘Man Root’.

 

 

RARE Wild Ginseng Root – Man Root or ‘She Root’

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This is a truly rare wild american ginseng root! The amazing ‘she root’, aka ‘The Madonna’ (the historical one, not the other……) is special because she looks like a mother & child embracing.

Visit her ETSY listing here!

This is a truly amazing ‘man root’! I like to think of her as a ‘she-root’, because she looks like a mother cradling a child. ‘Man Roots’ are very rare & valuable in the ginseng world, and this one even more so because of the obvious feminine character.
This dry root weighs 9 grams, and has 8+ neck scars. Also available in a display case.

This root was featured in a news article by MNN.com. Check out the article here!
http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/ginseng-demand-bosts-prices-crime

Selection from the article by LAURA MOSS:

“Ginseng buyers in Asia pay a premium for certain types of roots. Those known as “man roots” — ones with a human shape and what appear to be body parts — can go for thousands of dollars.

ginseng man rootCurrently, one of Jackson’s man roots (pictured right) is listed for sale on Etsy for $7,000.

“The price of ginseng varies from year to year, but the one constant is the demand for wild ginseng roots with potency and character,” she said. “This particular ginseng root is a remarkable example of a ‘man root,’ [which] is quite rare and sought after in the ginseng world.

“An ancient concept called the ‘Doctrine of Signatures’ theorizes that ‘herbs that resemble parts of the body can heal or cure those particular body parts.’ A ginseng root with such a resemblance to mankind makes it very sought after for its highly regarded tonic and curative properties.”

Jackson points out that because this particular root has a feminine character and resembles a woman cradling a child, it’s particularly precious, especially since ginseng is often used as a fertility aid.

However, Jackson’s ginseng may also be considered valuable because of where it comes from.

Some of the most sought-after ginseng is harvested from the hills of the eastern U.S., primarily from North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia, where ginseng hunters can find older, more valuable roots. Ginseng from these areas can sell for a few hundred dollars in summer, but by fall when the growing season comes to an end, those prices tend to rise above $1,000.”