“Black cohosh: WNC’s next cash crop?” Article

This is an interesting article from Asheville Citizen Times about Black Cohosh & it’s potential for international  value as a botanical pharmaceutical.

http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2016/09/11/black-cohosh-wncs-next-cash-crop/89775504/

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.

 

Chanterelles ~ Queen of the Forest

 

IMG_20160820_170433 (Copy)It might be argued that certain areas of the southern Appalachian mountains, could meet the qualifications of a temperate rain forest. Rainfall, canopy cover, and a few other aspects make some of the more densely forested portions of WNC an interesting place for mushrooms!

In the Spring, if you get very lucky, you might find some morels if you look really hard, but few things equal the sight of the ground ‘on fire’ with gorgeous golden orange ‘fragrant chanterelles’. After a moist summer with almost daily rainfall, these beauties can be quite prolific, although they are totally & utterly wild, and must be foraged & wild crafted. Lucky for us they have a relationship with the roots of certain hardwood trees, and come back in the same place year after year.IMG_20160819_135855429 (Copy)

When it comes to collecting any wild mushroom for eating, making an absolutely positive ID is crucial. Once an ID is 100% positive, it still doesn’t stop there, because when it comes to large patches of mushrooms, you have to check each & every one as you harvest them to make sure that you you don’t accidentally mix in a look alike, which often tend to grow in the same areas.

Once you get past all the necessary mushroom disclaimers, positive IDs, & correct harvesting procedures, it is time to clean them & cook them, and in this particular case, the taste even better then they look!

 

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For more info on “Fragrant Chanterelles (Craterellus odoratus)” check out these links below!

http://blog.crazyaboutmushrooms.com/tag/craterellus-odoratus/

http://blog.crazyaboutmushrooms.com/north-carolinas-top-10-edible-wild-mushrooms/

http://blog.crazyaboutmushrooms.com/chanterelle-hunting-north-carolina/

http://www.mssf.org/cookbook/chanterelle.html

 

Bat Cave Botanicals IndieGogo Campaign

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Check out out new IndieGogo Campaign for Bat Cave Botanicals! We would appreciate it if you shared with anyone who might be interested!

Bat Cave Botanicals is a small business located in Bat Cave, NC. We steward & ethically harvest Wild American Ginseng, and offer these very special roots to customers who demand ethical practices. We also focus on public awareness & ginseng education. We have created this campaign to ask for your help with funding to make Bat Cave Botanicals a self supporting small business that shows the world that it is possible to have a profitable business model based on ethical principals.

We have created this IndieGogo campaign for Bat Cave Botanicals to seek financial help with crucial funds needed to continue & expand our small business, and to further the reach of our educational resources.

Because of the current high market value of ginseng & resulting threat to the wild ginseng population , it is important to us to offer a product that places value on a superior & ethically harvested product, as opposed to the current short sighted over-harvesting of a rare, valuable & endangered botanical resource.

With the assistance of contributors like you, we can achieve a higher level of public awareness & become a profitable self sustaining small business.  By offering superior quality wild american ginseng, we hope to demonstrate to other sellers that ethical harvest techniques are more profitable as well as sustainable. By our success we hope that other sellers will adopt a more respectful  ‘Good Stewardship’ ginseng policy.

We believe in giving back & contributing to the community, so as our small business grows, the more effort we would like to give to public education, outreach & conservation. This is as much a lifestyle as it is ‘a business’ for us.

 

 

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.

Bat Cave Ice Photography

Crawling through a frozen creek with camera-in-hand can be worth the effort!

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The story behind ‘Bat Cave’ Botanicals…

First and foremost, we live in Bat Cave, North Carolina, which is way too awesome to not use as part of our business name! Our small town is named after the largest known granite ‘fissure’ cave in North America, which, not surprisingly happens to be inhabited by several species of bat, and a few other endangered species.

Second, because I love bats! Bats are amazing creatures who deserve awareness & recognition for the vital role they play in our ecosystem. OK, so maybe also a teeny bit because who doesn’t like a caped crusader fighting against evil doers.

Thirdly, bats have fascinating symbolic meaning in Chinese culture, and since much of my focus with Bat Cave Botanicals includes Traditional Chinese Herbs, it is a little extra cool. In Chinese cultural symbolism, bats are auspicious because the word for ‘bat’ (FU) in Chinese sounds the exact same as the word for luck (FU).  They represent longevity & prosperity, and are often depicted in art motifs with deer & ginseng roots, which are three things we always love to see in these parts!

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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