Panax trifolius

Common Names: Dwarf ginseng
Category: Plants
Sub-category: Ivy family

A member of the ginseng family, but not the same species as used for medicine. A perennial wildflower, 3 to 8 inches tall. It has an unbranched stem that terminates in a whorl of compound leaves and a single flowering stalk. The central stem is light green to dull red and hairless. The compound leaves are palmate with 3 to 5 leaflets. Individual leaflets are ¾ to 1½ inches long and about one-third as much across; they are oblanceolate or elliptic, serrated along their margins, and sessile (or nearly so). The upper surface of the leaves is medium green and hairless. The petioles of the compound leaves are ¾ to 2 inches long, light green to dull red, and hairless. The flowering stalk rises 1 to 3 inches above the leaves, terminating in a small umbel of white flowers about ¾ inch across. Like the central stem, it is light green to dull red and hairless. Individual flowers are about 3 mm across, consisting of 5 white petals, a short white calyx, and 5 white stamens. The flowers of some plants are all staminate (male), while the flowers of other plants are perfect (male & female). Each staminate flower has a single non-functional style, while each perfect flower has 3 styles and a 3-celled ovary. Individual plants are capable of changing their gender from year-to-year. Like the flowers, the pedicels are also white.

It is found in low mesic woods with acidic soils. Blooms from mid- to late spring.

Edible Notes: While it is reportedly edible, the tuberous root of Dwarf Ginseng is not used in herbal medicine. The flavor of this root is supposed to be pungent.
Warnings: Not known to be dangerous.