American Panax quinquefolium
Natural Order, Araliaceae. In the same Family with aralia racemosa. Plants with perennial, fusiform, fleshy roots, and an annual herbaceous stem. Stem simple, round, one foot to eighteen inches high; dividing at the top into three petiolate leaves; each leaf in turn dividing into five unequal, petiolated, ob-oval, serrate lobes. Flowers dioeciously polygamous, in a solitary and simple umbel rising on an erect peduncle from the apex of the stem, and between the petioles of the three compound leaves; small, yellowish, the calyx adherent to the ovary in the perfect flowers. Fruit a berry, in a compact cluster, bright scarlet, each the size of a very small pea. Blooming usually in June, and ripening in August. Properties and Uses: The root of ginseng (often supposed to be the same with gentian) [They had that much fake ginseng floating around already back then? Wow. --Henriette] is a very mild tonic, somewhat aromatic and diffusive, principally relaxant, and making its chief impression upon nervous structures. As a soothing and nervine tonic, it answers a fair purpose in simple forms of dyspepsia, nervousness, hysteria, and similar cases of nervous sensitiveness with debility. Its powers are altogether too light to be of service in depressed cases. As its qualities are easily dissipated by heat, it should be used in substance or as a wine tincture. Dose of the powder, from a scruple to a drachm. Many prefer to chew the crude root.