Dwarf Ginseng

It’s so little and cute.  And edible.  And medicinal.  And sexy.  If you don’t know it yet, you must introduce yourself.  It’s called Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius).

Dwarf Ginseng 5

Look how little it is.  Those are beech leaves on which it is casting its shadow.  Underground there is round tuber.  Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants notes that the tuber can be eaten raw as a “trailside nibble” or can be boiled and eaten as a cooked vegetable.  In the Medicinal Plants and Herbs book, several uses are noted, including chewing the root for headaches or shortness of breath.

Dwarf Ginseng Range MapThe sexy part, I’m still learning.  But here’s a passage that excited my passion for big science words:

Panax trifolium has a very uncommon form of polygamy called androdioecious. There are two forms of the flower, one is the staminate and the other is the hermaphroditic. The staminate and hermaphroditic flowers occur on separate plants. (source)

Androdioecious.  Not just plain old ordinary dioecious.  Androdioecious.  It’s just too fascinating…  I must learn more.  So, what do you think?  Is this one staminate or hermaphroditic?

Dwarf Ginseng 4 

So much to learn…