While they can be extremely difficult to tell apart, there are some key differences between American ginseng vs Korean ginseng. Considered a rare and prized medical herb as well as a culinary addition to your kitchen, ginseng has a number of uses and properties. But what are all of the differences between American ginseng and Korean ginseng?
In this article, we will compare and contrast Korean ginseng with American ginseng so that you can learn how to tell them apart. We will go over what these two plants look like in their natural habitats, as well as how you can best grow them in your own backyard. Let’s get started and learn all about these two ginseng varieties now!
Comparing American Ginseng vs Korean Ginseng
|American Ginseng||Korean Ginseng|
|Plant Classification||Panax quinquefolius||Panax ginseng|
|Description||Reaches up to 18 inches tall, with 3 distinct sets of serrated leaves. The leaves are large and deep green, often grouped in 3-5 leaf clusters. Produces bright red berries that are also clustered, and the root resembles parsnip roots||Reaches up to 24 inches tall, with less obvious leaf sets compared to American ginseng. Leaves are simple and green, occasionally serrated. Produces bright red berries that cluster on a centralized stalk, and the root is a creamy color. The roots often divide and come back together|
|Uses||Prized by Native Americans as a medicinal herb, and used to be hunted and sold at high prices overseas. Often considered the yin side of ginseng||Considered a medicinal supplement and culinary herb, though more research needs to be done. Protected and cultivated slowly, and considered the yang side of ginseng|
|Origin and Growing Preferences||Originated in eastern North America; grows best in moist, cool conditions and soil with plenty of organic matter||Originated in Asia; grows best in cool, shady locations, often underneath other plants|
|Protections and Conservation||Endangered or threatened in many states and in Canada, but varies depending on location||Protected in China and Russia, and commercially grown in a variety of locations to avoid over-harvesting in the wild|
Key Differences Between American Ginseng vs Korean Ginseng
There are a few key differences between American ginseng and Korean ginseng. For example, Korean ginseng plants grow slightly taller than American ginseng plants. The leaf pattern of the American ginseng plants is more obvious and uniform compared to the leaf patterns of the Korean ginseng plants. Finally, Korean ginseng plants originated in Asia, while American ginseng plants originated in easternmost North America.
Let’s go over all of these differences in more detail now.
American Ginseng vs Korean Ginseng: Classification
While they are both members of the Araliaceae or ivy family, Korean ginseng and American ginseng are two separate species from one another. This is likely due to their origins as well as how they grow, and you can classify American ginseng as Panax quinquefolius, and Korean ginseng as Panax ginseng.
American Ginseng vs Korean Ginseng: Description
It can be incredibly difficult to tell Korean ginseng apart from American ginseng. However, there are a few key features to keep an eye out for. For example, American ginseng has a uniform way in which it grows its leaves, while Korean ginseng grows its leaves in a less structured fashion. American ginseng leaves grow in three distinct locations on the plant, while Korean ginseng leaves sprout more than three leaf segments per plant.
Besides this subtle distinction, most American ginseng leaves are serrated, while Korean ginseng leaves are smooth along the edges. However, both Korean ginseng and American ginseng produce a cluster of red berries and cream colored roots that resemble parsnips. These roots are often divided and grow in a variety of unique shapes, typically strikingly similar to one another.
American Ginseng vs Korean Ginseng: Uses
American ginseng and Korean ginseng are typically used for the same purposes, both medicinally and culinarily. However, the medicinal benefits of ginseng require further study and these plants are still prized for this purpose. For the most part, Korean ginseng is considered the hotter version or Yang side of ginseng, while American ginseng produces more cooling effects and is considered the Yin side of ginseng.
American Ginseng vs Korean Ginseng: Origin and How to Grow
If you haven’t already guessed, there are some distinct differences in the origins of American ginseng and Korean ginseng. For example, American ginseng originated in eastern North America, while Korean ginseng originated in Asia. Depending on your region, you can grow your own American or Korean ginseng in your own garden, so long as you have plenty of rich, organic soil and a shady spot to plant them in!
American Ginseng vs Korean Ginseng: Protections and Conservation
A final difference between American ginseng and Korean ginseng lies in their overall protections and conservation efforts. Given that ginseng is prized for its supposed medical benefits, both of these plants are often over-harvested in the wild. For example, American ginseng is endangered or threatened in many states as well as locations in Canada, while Korean ginseng is a protected plant in China and Russia.
Not only is ginseng often over-harvested in both North America and in Asia, but the plant grows so slowly that this happens by default more often than not. However, ginseng is commercially grown around the world, with one of the primary American ginseng growing operations located in Wisconsin.
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- Growth and reproduction of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) in Wisconsin, USA, Available here: https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/abs/10.1139/b82-328
- Efficacy Comparison of Korean Ginseng and American Ginseng on Body Temperature and Metabolic Parameters, Available here: https://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S0192415X14500128
- Ecology and conservation of ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) in a changing world, Available here: https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/nyas.12032