Difference between Wild, Wild Simulated, and Cultivated Ginseng
The ginseng plant is an herb that Is well recognized and used for its health benefits. The herb is considered to be an adaptogen, which helps the human body deal better with stressful physical and emotional conditions. The cooling American and warming Asian varieties of the ginseng are used by people world over. The herb is consumed in dried powder form, as concentrated liquids, as beverages like tea, and so on. However, not all ginseng in the market are equal. The plant differs in the way in which it is grown, and comprises of three varieties – wild, cultivated, and wild-simulated.
Wild ginseng occurs naturally, and is found commonly in mountainous hardwood forests. They are pretty difficult to hunt. The roots found in their wild habitat are usually aged between 10 and 30 years. The wild varieties of this herb are characterized by knurls and noticeable growth rings on the root. The age of the wild ginseng can be determined by counting the nicks or grooves on its neck. The older the herb, the more prized it is – roots over 20 years are rare, between 30 to 40 are scare, and those over 50 years old are extremely rare and precious.
The wild simulated variety is grown by sowing ginseng seeds. However, the technique replicates natural habitat by utilizing the natural shade provided by the forest canopy. The seeds are placed deep in untilled soils, which mimics the stressful soil conditions that produce the high quality gnarled roots of the wild variety. No fertilizers, herbicides, or fungicides are used, so that the roots bear maximum goodness, almost as that of the naturally occurring variety. Such ginseng also tends to be dark tan in colour with more pronounced growth rings and gnarled appearance, like that of the actual wild roots.
Field cultivated ginseng
The ever-growing demand for ginseng has resulted in the herb being taken out of its natural mountainous forest habitat and cultivated in huge, artificially shaded fields. The shade in this case is provided using propylene cloth or wooden lathe. Cultivated ginseng in grown from its seeds that are sown in four to six feet wide, raised beds. The plants grown in this manner are usually harvested every three to four years. The cultivated variety gives large volumes and its roots are smoother, elongated, and seldom ‘man-like’, but resemble carrots. Field cultivated ginseng has high density plantings with short crop rotations, and often uses heavy doses of fertilizers, and pest and pathogen management for better yields.
The wild ginseng is often more valuable than the cultivated variety. The Chinese believe that the slower the root grows, and the older it is, the better the ability of the root to absorb the curative powers from the forest floor. Additionally, the wild roots of the plant contain higher concentrations of ginsenosides and nutrients. For this reason, the wild ginseng becomes a revered plant in traditional medicine, and is found to be preferred over cultivated ginseng by many.
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