At first I put an exclamation point after the title but deleted it after deciding it would be hypocritical to imply agricultural conceit, as it was only yesterday evening I discovered my ginseng crop.
Stumbled upon it while tripping, literally, over fallen limbs and through the tangle of diverse wildflowers and indigenous botanicals my wife calls "weeds" on my monthly hunt for the wellhead armed with only a glass of Clorox which I pour down the well to vanquish the germs that ingest organic material in our water, in the process emitting gasses that bubble up and through our plumbing to cause discreet confusion as to which of our lavatory facilities are being used at any given time.
Better the stink of chlorine than to think it the other or be carried back in memory to high school chemistry-class sulfur-burning days.
Thus it was when I saw the clumps of yellow and orange berries near the ground among the sporadic periwinkles, spiderwort and tiny daisies that I discovered what I yet did not know was my ginseng crop. I stumbled back out of the woods and slogged through the newly mown grass to the house where I grabbed my trusty Wildflowers of Tidewater Virginia, by Gupton and Swope, finding therein I could now add GINSENG HORTICULTURALIST next to SELF-PUBLISHED SCRIVENER on my business cards, whenever I get around to ordering them.
Wild Wisconsin Ginseng Man Root (click on photo for source)
I shall not comment on the above photo, other than to suggest it might lend itself to a caption contest, but that's Algis Kemezcy's turf, so I won't. We do know from studying Wikipedia entries that ginseng roots and even the dried leaves are highly valued, endowed with mythical properties in certain Asian cultures, including aphrodisiactic (sic) powers and are thought to be beneficial to Type 2 diabetics and persons with flagging energy. I found the discovery elating.
Returning today with my daughter's Nikon in the hope of finding the obligatory five-eared leaf fan to confirm the identity of my crop, I was met with the horror of grotesque things dead and dried and resembling the kind of brown mummified sheets of organic material one might find hanging in a tobacco-curing barn. Gack. The berries looked healthy, I thought, except that by now they should be bright red, not yellow and orange. Stunted in adolescence, I fear, never to mature. It was to weep, especially as my crop is not insured, although ginseng is a perennial, so next year's discovery might well be a happier one.
Healthy ginseng plant (click photo for source)
What did them in, my five or six plants? The problem needs further study. It's been a dry summer here, although not as bad as in some areas, such as my home state of Wisconsin. We've had record heat waves. Maybe that was it. I wish I knew. I'll let you know soon as I learn more.
Photo taken today by me.