Panax trifolius – Dwarf Ginseng

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Dwarf ginseng (Panax trifolius) is a native spring ephemeral.
Dwarf ginseng, also known as “groundnut”, can be found in moist areas along forested creeks. It can form dense colonies in ideal conditions.
Dwarf ginseng has three leaves that are arranged in the shape of a triangle. Each leaf is made up of three or five lobes. Flowers are globe shaped. Soft green fruits develop 6-8 weeks after the plant first emerges in the spring. The plant has a small root that is 3-4 inches deep.
Dwarf ginseng roots and leaves have medicinal properties; however, the concentration of medicinal compounds in Dwarf ginseng roots is much lower than American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) roots. Dwarf ginseng has been used to treat headaches, indigestion, and rheumatism.
Dwarf ginseng roots should only be harvested after the seed has ripened. If harvesting roots, the seeds should be re-planted where the root is taken out.
Leaves can also be eaten as an herbal tonic or used as a pungent salad green.

Written by Amy Demers, founder of the Connecticut Foraging Club. To learn more about foraging in Connecticut, check out our upcoming classes.

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