American Ginseng
Panax quinquefolius Ginseng à cinq folioles f the most widely used medicinal herbs in the world,
its production yields nearly $68 million a year in Canada!
Properties and Uses
Industrial Demand
Consumed on a regular basis, American ginseng reduces tiredness, relieves stress, improves short- Most of Canada’s ginseng production is exported in term memory, and regulates blood pressure, dried root form or sold to buyers at the farm gate. cholesterol and glycemia. It strengthens the immune The world trading centre for ginseng is Hong Kong. system, promotes longevity and reduces symptoms Chinese consumers are Canada’s largest customers, It is consumed in various forms: herbal tea, tablets, In British Columbia between 1997 and 1999, the number of producers decreased from 129 to 60. This drop was directly related to a decrease in Culinary
Japanese demand, as well as the Asian economic crisis that was taking place. After the crisis was There is some very minor consumption of ginseng over, in 2003, new markets were developed in the United States and South Korea. Demand for ginseng is thus expected to rise in the years to come, especially for ginseng grown under wild conditions. In 1996, Canada exported 1,160 tonnes of ginseng worth $66 million, while in 2001, a total of 2,230 environments, on sandy soil or silt loam. Preferring tonnes were exported for basically the same price rich, shady deciduous forests, it often grows in mature ($68M). This represents an approximate drop of maple stands where less than 20% of the sunlight 46%. When the market was at its peak, ginseng root reaches the ground. Since it appreciates shade, it is was one of the world’s most profitable legal crops. In more commonly found on north or northeastern 1995, ginseng root prices were as much as $770/kg for semi-wild woodland crops. In 2003, the price of ginseng root was extremely difficult to Ginseng often grows along with Jack-in-the-pulpit, assess, and none of our contacts were able to Canada wild ginger, spinulose shield fern and marginal provide us with accurate figures. In North America, shield fern, doll’s eyes and wild sarsaparilla. There ginseng prices vary a great deal depending on the appears to be a relationship between the presence concentration of active principles, while in Asia, the of such species and the soil’s calcium and priority seems to be the root's appearance. In addition, prices may also vary according to the age and type of crop (organic or conventional). Ginseng does not grow naturally or spontaneously in the Gaspé Peninsula. Gaspé Peninsula’s Non-Timber Forest Products Harvesting Method
To our knowledge, there are no ginseng buyers in the region. In Quebec, a few companies make Harvesting wild American ginseng is not recommended ginseng herbal tea. Recently, energy beverages— juices and soft drinks—containing ginseng have begun to appear on grocery shelves, mostly made by American ginseng has been on the endangered species list since April 1999 according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Domestication
Canada (COSEWIC), and has actually been considered a threatened species since 1988 under the Convention Ginseng is a shade plant. It grows under a forest canopy on International Trade in Species of Wild Fauna and that lets in no more than 15% to 20% of the sunlight. Flora (CITES). Countries are required to show that exporting ginseng will not endanger the plant’s There are three official ginseng growing methods: survival. In addition, the ecological heritage section of the Quebec Dept of the Environment has given notice • Intensive cultivation on farmland under shade that regulations prohibiting the harvest of commercial structures (or shade grown) – Used in Ontario and Product Quality
cultivated) – Grown in cultivated beds, in natural Quebec seems to want to move ginseng production to natural or semi-wild ginseng crops, which yield better quality ginseng. Ontario and British Columbia • Semi-wild cultivation (or wild simulated)1 – This are one step ahead in terms of ginseng cultivation type of production consists in imitating the way in under shade structures. There is also a growing which ginseng reproduces and propagates itself in the forest. Very little effort is required for management and maintenance. Plant density will Roots are often dried in ovens, where temperatures be lower and the growth period longer (6 to 15 and air flow are controlled. The trays on which the years) than with the other two methods. This roots are placed are turned regularly to ensure an type of production does not require fertilizers or synthetic pesticides, but some amendments can be added if the need arises. No mechanization is “Wild” ginger is inspected by the buyer, who verifies possible. This growing method yields extremely the conditions under which the root was grown and its high-quality roots, which makes them very appearance. A good ginseng root should have a “J” valuable. Their price per kilogram is about 10 times higher than that obtained for roots grown on farmland. It is undoubtedly the most attractive Contacts and Buyers
type of production for Quebec. The investments required are seed costs, time and wages for plot The Groupement forestier Baie-des-Chaleurs preparation, sowing, weeding, pest diagnosis and To introduce ginseng in a woodland environment, collaboration with the La Pocatière ITA [Agricultural the litter must first be raked and set aside. Then the top 2 to 3 cm of soil must be loosened using a rake. Stratified2 seeds are scattered and then 389), are currently conducting ginseng cultivation covered with the raked litter. If competitive experiments in sugar maple groves in the Lower vegetation is visibly impending ginseng growth, it St. Lawrence and Gaspé regions. Further information on these studies is available by contacting them. This method is detailed since it is more widespread than the other two. It was chosen for the studies carried out in the Gaspé Peninsula in 2003. 2 Which have undergone a specific frost period. Gaspé Peninsula’s Non-Timber Forest Products must be removed. Crop conditions have to be monitored to identify any sign of disease. Sowing is done in late fall, before the soil freezes and before the first Ginseng plants are available at several Quebec nurseries. Useful References
DUCHESNE, L. 2003. The Importance of Bioproducts to Canada’s Forestry Sector: New Partnerships in a Knowledge Economy. Natural Resources Canada – ONTARIO MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD. GOUDREAULT, D. and L. GOSSELIN. 1996. La culture du ginseng en milieu forestier. Corporation d e développement économique de l’érable (CDEE), Personal Communication
GOUDREAULT, D., L. GOSSELIN and M. DORAIS. 1996. Colloque sur le potentiel de la culture du ginseng OLIVIER, Alain. Faculty of Agriculture Science and Food, au Québec. Corporation de développement économique de l’érable, Plessisville, Quebec. MOHAMMED, G. H. 1999. Non-Timber Forest Products in Ontario: An Overview. Forest Research Information This initiative was made possible with the participation of Paper No. 145. Ontario Forest Research Institute, Canada Economic Development and Natural Resources ROBITAILLE, D. and I. NADEAU. Décembre 1997– janvier 1998. La culture du ginseng en milieu forestier. L’Aubelle, pp 15–17. SAUMUR, J. 2000. Comment semer le ginseng d'Amérique en forêt – le ginseng en sous-bois. Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation. Fiche technique Agdex 262–1, 6 p. SMALL, E. and P. M. CATLING. 1999. Canadian Medicinal Crops. NRC Research Press Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 240 p.
Web Sites

Canadian Ginseng Industry: Preparing for the 21st Century: AGRICULTURE AND AGRI-FOOD CANADA. Special Crops: Gaspé Peninsula’s Non-Timber Forest Products


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