Ginseng, a perennial herb of eastern Asia and North America. Ginseng has an upright, unbranched stem about two feet (60 cm) high with three leaves at the top, each composed of five thin, pointed leaflets. Its small umbels (clusters) of flowers are whitish green. Its berrylike fruits, borne in clusters, are bright red when ripe. The plant's spindle-shaped, forked roots are four to nine inches (10 to 23 cm) long.
Ginseng root has long been prized, especially in China, as a tonic and aphrodisiac, and as a cure for numerous disorders. When ginseng was discovered growing wild in North America in the early 18th century, a thriving trade with China sprang up.
Asian ginseng is Panax schinseng, or P. ginseng; American, P. quinquefolius and P. trifolium. All belong to the ginseng family, Araliaceae.