|Ginseng and Other Medicinal Plants
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Ginseng and Other Medicinal Plants
[Frontispiece: Delights in His Ginseng Garden.]
GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
A Book of Valuable Information for Growers as Well as Collectors of Medicinal Roots, Barks, Leaves, Etc.
BY A. R. HARDING
Published by A. R. Harding Publishing Co. Columbus, Ohio
Copyright 1908 By A. R. Harding Pub. Co.
I. Plants as a Source of Revenue II. List of Plants Having Medicinal Value III. Cultivation of Wild Plants IV. The Story of Ginseng V. Ginseng Habits VI. Cultivation VII. Shading and Blight VIII. Diseases of Ginseng IX. Marketing and Prices X. Letters from Growers XI. General Information XII. Medicinal Qualities XIII. Ginseng in China XIV. Ginseng--Government Description, Etc. XV. Michigan Mint Farm XVI. Miscellaneous Information XVII. Golden Seal Cultivation XVIII. Golden Seal History, Etc. XIX. Growers' Letters XX. Golden Seal--Government Description, Etc. XXI. Cohosh--Black and Blue XXII. Snakeroot--Canada and Virginia XXIII. Pokeweed XXIV. Mayapple XXV. Seneca Snakeroot XXVI. Lady's Slipper XXVII. Forest Roots XXVIII. Forest Plants XXIX. Thicket Plants XXX. Swamp Plants XXXI. Field Plants XXXII. Dry Soil Plants XXXIII. Rich Soil Plants XXXIV. Medicinal Herbs XXXV. Medicinal Shrubs
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Delights in His Ginseng Garden Seneca Snake Root (Cultivated) in Blossom Indian Turnip (Wild) Canadian Snake Root (Cultivated) Blood Root (Cultivated) Sarsaparilla Plant (Wild) Ginseng Plants and Roots Garden Grown Ginseng Plants Northern Ginseng Plant in Bloom--June Plan for Ginseng Garden 24 x 40 Feet--Ground Plan One Line, Overhead Dotted A Lath Panel One, Two and Three Year Old Ginseng Roots Ginseng Plants Coming Up Bed of 10,000 Young Ginseng Plants in Forest One Year's Growth of Ginseng Under Lattice Shade A Healthy Looking Ginseng Garden Diseased Ginseng Plants Broken--"Stem Rot" End Root Rot of Seedlings The Beginning of Soft Rot Dug and Dried--Ready for Market A Three Year Old Cultivated Root Bed of Mature Ginseng Plants Under Lattice Some Thrifty Plants--An Ohio Garden New York Grower's Garden Forest Bed of Young "Seng" These Plants However Are Too Thick A Healthy Looking "Garden"--"Yard" Root Resembling Human Body Wild Ginseng Roots Pennsylvania Grower's Garden Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolium) Lady Slipper Young Golden Seal Plant in Bloom Golden Seal Plants Thrifty Golden Seal Plant Golden Seal in an Upland Grove Locust Grove Seal Garden Golden Seal (Hydrastis Canadensis) Flowering Plant and Fruit Golden Seal Rootstock Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga Racemosa), Leaves, Flowering Spikes and Rootstock Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum Thalictroides) Canada Snakeroot (Asarum Canadense) Virginia Serpentaria (Aristolochia Serpentaria) Pokeweed (Phytolacca Decandra), Flowering and Fruiting Branch Pokeweed Root May-Apple (Podophyllum Pellatum), Upper Portion of Plant with Flower, and Rootstock Seneca Snakeroot (Polygala Senega), Flowering Plant with Root Large Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium Hirsutum) Bethroot (Trillium Erectum) Culver's Root (Veronica Virginica) Flowering Top and Rootstock Stoneroot (Collinsonia Canadensis) Crawley-Root (Corallorhiza Odontorhiza) Marginal-Fruited Shield-Fern (Dryopteris Marginalis) Goldthread (Coptis Trifolia) Twinleaf (Jeffersonia Diphylla) Plant and Seed Capsule Canada Moonseed (Menispermum Canadense) Wild Turnip (Arisaema Triphyllum) Black Indian Hemp (Apocynum Cannabinum), Flowering Portion, Pods, and Rootstock Chamaelirium (Chamaelirium Luteum) Wild Yam (Dioscorea Villosa) Skunk-Cabbage (Spathyema Foetida) American Hellebore (Veratrum Viride) Water-Eryngo (Eryngium Yuccifolium) Yellow Jasmine (Gelsensium Sempervirens) Sweet Flag (Acorus Calamus) Blue Flag (Iris Versicolor) Crane's-bill (Geranium Maculatum), Flowering Plant, Showing also Seed Pods and Rootstock Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) Soapwort (Saponaria Officinalis) Burdock (Arctium Lappa), Flowering branch and Root Yellow Dock (Rumex Crispus), First Year's Growth Broad-Leaved Dock (Rumex Obtusifolius), Leaf, Fruiting Spike and Root Stillingia (Stillingia Sylvatica), Upper Portion of Plant and Part of Spike Showing Male Plant American Colombo (Frasera Carolinensis), Leaves, Flowers, and Seed Pods Couch-Grass (Agropyron Repens) Echinacea (Brauneria Augustifolia) Aletris (Aletris Farinosa) Wild Indigo (Baptisia Tinctoria), Branch Showing Flowers and Seed Pods Pleurisy Root (Asclepias Tuberosa) Bloodroot (Sanguinaria Canadensis), Flowering Plant with Rootstock Pinkroot (Spigelia Marilandica) Indian Physic (Porteranthus Trifoliatus) Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia Nudicaulis) American Angelica (Angelica Atropurpurea) Comfrey (Symphytum Officinale) Elecampane (Inula Helenium) Queen-of-the-Meadow (Eupatorium Purpureum) Hydrangea (Hydrangea Arborescens) Oregon Grape (Berberis Aquifolium)
[Illustration: A. R. Harding]
When the price of Ginseng advanced some years ago hundreds engaged in the business who knew little or nothing of farming, plant raising and horticulture. That they largely failed is not to be wondered at. Later many began in a small way and succeeded. Many of these were farmers and gardeners. Others were men who had hunted, trapped and gathered "seng" from boyhood. They therefore knew something of the peculiarities of Ginseng.
It is from the experience of these men that this work is largely made up--writings of those who are in the business.
Golden seal is also attracting considerable attention owing to the rapid increase in price during the early years of the present century. The growing of this plant is given careful attention also.
Many other plants are destined to soon become valuable. A work gotten out by the government--American root drugs--contains a great deal of value in regard habits, range, description, common names, price, uses, etc., etc., so that some of the information contained in this book is taken therefrom. The prices named in the government bulletin which was issued in 1907 were those prevailing at that time--they will vary, in the future, largely according to the supply and demand.
The greatest revenue derived from plants for medicinal purposes is derived from the roots, yet there are certain ones where the leaves and bark are used. Therefore to be complete some space is given to these plants. The digging of the roots, of course, destroys the plant as well as does the peeling of the bark, while leaves secured is clear gain--in other words, if gathered when matured the plant or shrub is not injured and will produce leaves each year.
The amount of root drugs used for medicinal purposes will increase as the medical profession is using of them more and more. Again the number of people in the world is rapidly increasing while the forests (the natural home of root drugs) are becoming less each year. This shows that growers of medicinal roots will find a larger market in the future than in the past.
Those who know something of medicinal plants--"Root Drugs"--can safely embark in their cultivation, for while prices may ease off--go lower--at times, it is reasonably certain that the general trend will be upward as the supply growing wild is rapidly becoming less each year.
A. R. Harding.
PLANTS AS A SOURCE OF REVENUE.
With the single exception of ginseng, the hundred of plants whose roots are used for medical purposes, America is the main market and user. Ginseng is used mainly by the Chinese. The thickly inhabited Chinese Empire is where the American ginseng is principally used. To what uses it is put may be briefly stated, as a superstitious beverage. The roots with certain shapes are carried about the person for charms. The roots resembling the human form being the most valuable.
The most valuable drugs which grow in America are ginseng and golden seal, but there are hundreds of others as well whose leaves, barks, seeds, flowers, etc., have a market value and which could be cultivated or gathered with profit. In this connection an article which appeared in the Hunter-Trader-Trapper, Columbus, Ohio, under the title which heads this chapter is given in full:
To many unacquainted with the nature of the various wild plants which surround them in farm and out-o'-door life, it will be a revelation to learn that the world's supply of crude, botanical (vegetable) drugs are to a large extent gotten from this class of material. There are more than one thousand different kinds in use which are indigenous or naturalized in the United States. Some of these are very valuable and have, since their medicinal properties were discovered, come into use in all parts of the world; others now collected in this country have been brought here and, much like the English sparrow, become in their propagation a nuisance and pest wherever found.
The impression prevails among many that the work of collecting the proper kind, curing and preparing for the market is an occupation to be undertaken only by those having experience and a wide knowledge of their species, uses, etc. It is a fact, though, that everyone, however little he may know of the medicinal value of such things, may easily become familiar enough with this business to successfully collect and prepare for the market many different kinds from the start.
There are very large firms throughout the country whose sole business is for this line of merchandise, and who are at all times anxious to make contracts with parties in the country who will give the work business-like attention, such as would attend the production of other farm articles, and which is so necessary to the success of the work.
If one could visit the buyers of such firms and ask how reliable they have found their sources of supply for the various kinds required, it would provoke much laughter. It is quite true that not more than one in one hundred who write these firms to get an order for some one or more kinds they might supply, ever give it sufficient attention to enable a first shipment to be made. Repeated experiences of this kind have made the average buyer very promptly commit to the nearest waste basket all letters received from those who have not been doing this work in the past, recognizing the utter waste of time in corresponding with those who so far have shown no interest in the work.
The time is ripe for those who are willing to take up this work, seriously giving some time and brains to solving the comparatively easy problems of doing this work at a small cost of time and money and successfully compete for this business, which in many cases is forced to draw supplies from Europe, South America, Africa, and all parts of the world.
From the writer's observation, more of these goods are not collected in this country on account of the false ideas those investigating it have of the amount of money to be made from the work, than from any other reason; they are led to believe that untold wealth lies easily within their reach, requiring only a small effort on their part to obtain it. Many cases may be cited of ones who have laboriously collected, possibly 50 to 100 pounds of an article, and when it was discovered that from one to two dollars per pound was not immediately forthcoming, pronounced the dealer a thief and never again considered the work.
In these days when all crude materials are being bought, manufactured and sold on the closest margins of profit possible, the crude drug business has not escaped, it is therefore only possible to make a reasonable profit in marketing the products of the now useless weeds which confront the farmer as a serious problem at every turn. To the one putting thought, economy and perseverance in this work, will come profit which is now merely thrown away.
Many herbs, leaves, barks, seeds, roots, berries and flowers are bought in very large quantities, it being the custom of the larger houses to merely place an order with the collector for all he can collect, without restriction. For example, the barks used from the sassafras roots, from the wild cherry tree, white pine tree, elm tree, tansy herb, jimson weed, etc., run into the hundreds of thousand pounds annually, forming very often the basis of many remedies you buy from your druggist.
The idea prevalent with many, who have at any time considered this occupation, that it is necessary to be familiar with the botanical and Latin names of these weeds, must be abolished. When one of the firms referred to receives a letter asking for the price of Rattle Top Root, they at once know that Cimicifuga Racemosa is meant; or if it be Shonny Haw, they readily understand it to mean Viburnum Prunifolium; Jimson Weed as Stramonium Dotura; Indian Tobacco as Lobelia Inflata; Star Roots as Helonias Roots, and so on throughout the entire list of items.
Should an occasion arise when the name by which an article is locally known cannot be understood, a sample sent by mail will soon be the means of making plain to the buyer what is meant.
Among the many items which it is now necessary to import from Germany, Russia, France, Austria and other foreign countries, which might be produced by this country, the more important are: Dandelion Roots, Burdock Roots, Angelica Roots, Asparagus Roots, Red Clover Heads, or blossoms. Corn Silk, Doggrass, Elder Flowers, Horehound Herb, Motherwort Herb, Parsley Root, Parsley Seed, Sage Leaves, Stramonium Leaves or Jamestown Leaves, Yellow Dock Root, together with many others.
Dandelion Roots have at times become so scarce in the markets as to reach a price of 50c per pound as the cost to import it is small there was great profit somewhere.
These items just enumerated would not be worthy of mention were they of small importance. It is true, though, that with one or two exceptions, the amounts annually imported are from one hundred to five hundred thousand pounds or more.
As plentiful as are Red Clover Flowers, this item last fall brought very close to 20c per pound when being purchased in two to ten-ton lots for the Winter's consumption.
For five years past values for all Crude Drugs have advanced in many instances beyond a proportionate advance in the cost of labor, and they bid fair to maintain such a position permanently. It is safe to estimate the average enhancement of values to be at least 100% over this period; those not reaching such an increased price fully made up for by others which have many times doubled in value.
It is beyond the bounds of possibility to pursue in detail all of the facts which might prove interesting regarding this business, but it is important that, to an extent at least, the matter of fluctuations in values be explained before this subject can be ever in a measure complete.
All items embraced in the list of readily marketable items are at times very high in price and other times very low; this is brought about principally by the supply. It is usually the case that an article gradually declines in price, when it has once started, until the price ceases to make its production profitable.
It is then neglected by those formerly gathering it, leaving the natural demand nothing to draw upon except stocks which have accumulated in the hands of dealers. It is more often the case that such stocks are consumed before any one has become aware of the fact that none has been collected for some time, and that nowhere can any be found ready for the market.
Dealers then begin to make inquiry, they urge its collection by those who formerly did it, insisting still upon paying only the old price. The situation becomes acute; the small lots held are not released until a fabulous price may be realized, thus establishing a very much higher market. Very soon the advanced prices reach the collector, offers are rapidly made him at higher and higher prices, until finally every one in the district is attracted by the high and profitable figures being offered. It is right here that every careful person concerned needs to be doubly careful else, in the inevitable drop in prices caused by the over-production which as a matter of course follows, he will lose money. It will probably take two to five years then for this operation to repeat itself with these items, which have after this declined even to lower figures than before.
In the meantime attention is directed to others undergoing the same experience. A thorough understanding of these circumstances and proper heed given to them, will save much for the collector and make him win in the majority of cases.
Books and other information can be had by writing to the manufacturers and dealers whose advertisements may be found in this and other papers.
LIST OF PLANTS HAVING MEDICINAL VALUE.
The list of American Weeds and Plants as published under above heading having medicinal value and the parts used will be of especial value to the beginner, whether as a grower, collector or dealer.
The supply and demand of medicinal plants changes, but the following have been in constant demand for years. The name or names in parenthesis are also applied to the root, bark, berry, plant, vines, etc., as mentioned:
Balm Gilead (Balsam Poplar)--The Buds. Bayberry (Wax-Myrtle)--The Bark of Root. Black Cohosh (Black Snake Root)--The Root with Rootlets. Black Haw (Viburnum. Sloe.)--The Bark of Root. The Bark of Tree. Black Indian Hemp (Canadian Hemp)--The Root. Blood Root--The Root with Fibre. The Root with no Fibre. Blue Cohosh (Papoose Root. Squaw Root)--The Root. Blue Flag (Larger Blue Flag)--The Root. Burdock--The Root. The Seed. Cascara Sagrada (Chittem Bark)--Bark of Tree. Clover, Red--The Blossoms. Corn Silk Cotton Root--The Bark of Root. Cramp Root (Cranberry Tree. High Bush Cranberry)--The Bark of Tree. Culver's Root (Black Root)--The Root. Dandelion--The Root. Deer Tongue--The Leaves. Elder--The Dried Ripe Berries. The Flowers. Elecampane--The Root, cut into slices. Elm (Slippery Elm)--The Bark, deprived of the brown, outside layer. Fringe Tree--The Bark of Root. Gelsemium (Yellow Jasmine) (Carolina Jasmine)--The Root. Ginseng--The Root. Golden Seal (Yellow Root. Yellow Puccoon. Orange Root. Indian Dye. Indian Turmeric)--The Root. Gold Thread (Three-leaved Gold Thread)--The Herb. Hops--These should be collected and packed in such a manner as to retain all of the yellow powder (lupulin.) Hydrangea--The Root. Indian Hemp, Black (See Black Indian Hemp) Lady Slipper (Moccasin-Flower. Large Yellow Lady Slipper. American Valerian)--The Root, with Rootlets. Lobelia (Indian Tobacco)--The Herb. The Seed. Mandrake (May-apple)--The Root. Nettle--The Herb. Passion Flower--The Herb. Pipsissewa (Prince's Pine)--The Vine. Poke--The Berries. The Root. Prickly Ash (Toothache Tree. Angelica Tree. Suterberry. Pepper Wood. Tea Ash)--The Bark. The Berry. Sassafras--The Bark of the Root. The Pith. Saw Palmetto--The Berries. Scullcap--The Herb.
[Illustration: Senega Snake Root (Cultivated) in Blossom.]
Snake Root, Virginia (Birthwort-Serpentaria)--The Root. Snake Root, Canada (Asarabacca. Wild Ginger. So-called Coltfoot Root)--The Root. Spruce Gum--Clean Gum only. Squaw Vine (Partridge Berry)--The Herb. Star Root (See Unicorn False) Star Grass (See Unicorn True) Stillingia (Queen's Delight)--The Root. Stramonium (Jamestown-weed. Jimson-weed. Thorn-apple)--The Leaves. The Seed. Unicorn True (Star Grass. Blazing Star. Mealy Starwort. Colic Root)--The Root. Unicorn False (Star Root. Starwort)--The Root. Wahoo (Strawberry Tree. Indian Arrow. Burning Bush. Spindle Tree. Pegwood. Bitter Ash)--The Bark of Root. The Bark of Tree. White Pine (Deal Pine. Soft Deal Pine)--The Bark of Tree, Rossed. Wild Cherry--The thin Green Bark, and thick Bark Rossed. The dried Cherries. Wild Indigo (Horsefly Weed. Rattle-bush. Indigo Weed. Yellow Indigo. Clover Broom)--The Root. Wormseed, American (Stinking Weed. Jesuit Tea. Jerusalem Tea. Jerusalem Oak)--The Seed. Wild Yam (Colic Root. China Root. Devil's Bones)--The Root. Yellow Dock (Sour Dock. Narrow Dock. Curled Dock)--The Root.
The following are used in limited quantities only:
Arbor Vitae (White Cedar)--The Leafy Tips. Balmony (Turtle-head. Snakehead)--The Herb, free from large Stalks. Beth Root (Trillium Erectum. Wake Robin. Birth-root)--The Root. Birch Bark (Cherry Birch. Sweet Birch. Black Birch. Black Root (see culvers root)--The Bark of Tree. Blackberry (High Blackberry)--The Bark of Root. Black Willow--The Bark. The Buds. Boneset (Thoroughwort)--The Herb, free from large Stems. Broom Corn--The Seed. Broom Top (Scotch Broom)--The Flowering Tops. Bugle Weed (Water Horehound) The Herb, free from large Stems. Butternut--Bark of Root. Catnip--The Herb. Chestnut--The Leaves, collected in September or October while still green. Chicory (Succory)--The Root, cut into slices (Cross section.) Corn Ergot (Corn Smut)--The Fungus, replacing the grains of corn. False Bittersweet (Shrubby Bittersweet. Climbing Bittersweet. Wax-wort. Staff-tree)--The Bark of Tree. Garden Lettuce--The Leaves. Geranium (Cranesbill)--The Root of the wild Herb. Gravel Plant (May Flower. Ground Laurel. Trailing Arbutus)--The Leaves. Great Celandine (Garden Celandine)--Entire plant. Hellebore, False (Adonis Vernalis)--The Root. Hemlock--The Bark. The Gum. Horse Nettle--The Berries. The Root. Huckleberry--The Dried Berry. Life Everlasting (Common Everlasting. Cudweed)--The Herb. Life Root Plant (Rag-wort)--The Herb. Lovage--The Root. Maiden Hair--The Fern. Milkweed (Pleurisy Root)--The Root cut into Sections lengthwise. Motherwort--The Herb. Mountain Ash (Mountain Laurel (See Sheep Laurel)--The Bark of Tree. Mullein (Common Mullein)--The Leaves. Pennyroyal--The Herb. Peppermint The Leaves.--The Herb. Pitcher Plant (Side-Saddle Plant. Fly Trap. Huntsman Cup. Water Cup)--The Plant. Plantain (Rib-grass. Rib-wort. Ripple-grass)--The Leaves. Poison Oak (Poison Ivy)--The Leaves. Pumpkin--The Seed. Queen of the Meadow (Joe-Pye-Weed. Trumpet-Weed)--The Root. Ragweed (Wild Red Raspberry)--The Leaves. Rosinweed (Polar plant. Compass plant)--The Root. Rue--The Herb. Sage--The Leaves. Scouring Rush (Horsetail)--The Herb. Sheep Laurel (Laurel. Mountain Laurel. Broad-leafed Laurel. Calico Bush. Spoon Wood)--The Leaves. Sheep Sorrel (Field Sorrel)--The Leaves. Shepherd's Purse--The Herb. Skunk Cabbage--The Root. Spikenard--The Root. Stone Root--The Root. Tag Alder--The Bark. Tansy (Trailing Arbutus. See Gravel Plant)--The Herb. Veratrum Viride (Green Hellebore. American Hellebore)--The Root. Vervain (Blue Vervain)--The Herb. Virginia Stone Crop (Dutch Stone Crop) Wafer Ash (Hop Tree. Swamp Dogwood. Stinking Ash. Scrubby Trefoil. Ague Bark)--The Bark of Root. Water Avens (Throat Root. Cure All. Evan's Root. Indian Chocolate. Chocolate Root. Bennett Root)--The Root. Water Eryngo (Button Snake Root. Corn Snake Root. Rattle Snake's Weed)--The Root. Water Hemlock (Spotted Parsley. Spotted Hemlock. Poison Parsley. Poison Hemlock. Poison Snake Weed. Beaver Poison)--The Herb. Watermelon--The Seed. Water Pepper (Smart Weed. Arsmart)--The Herb. Water Ash--The Bark of Tree. White Oak (Tanners Bark)--The Bark of Tree, Rossed. White Ash--The Bark of Tree. White Poplar (Trembling Poplar. Aspen. Quaking Asp)--The Bark of Tree. Wild Lettuce (Wild Opium Lettuce. Snake Weed. Trumpet Weed)--The Leaves.
[Illustration: Indian Turnip (Wild).]
Wild Turnip (Indian Turnip. Jack-in-the-Pulpit. Pepper Turnip. Swamp Turnip)--The Root, sliced. Wintergreen (Checkerberry. Partridge Berry. Teaberry. Deerberry)--The Leaves. Witch Hazel (Striped Alder. Spotted Alder. Hazelnut)--The Bark. The Leaves. Yarrow (Milfoil. Thousand Leaf)--The Herb. Yellow Parilla (Moon Seed. Texas Sarsaparilla)--The Root. Yerba Santa (Mountain Balm. Gum Plant. Tar Weed)--The Leaves.
CULTIVATION OF WILD PLANTS.
The leading botanical roots in demand by the drug trade are the following, to-wit: Ginseng, Golden Seal, Senega or Seneca Snake Root, Serpentaria or Virginia Snake Root, Wild Ginger or Canada Snake Root, Mandrake or Mayapple, Pink Root, Blood Root, Lady Slipper, Black Root, Poke Root and the Docks. Most of these are found in abundance in their natural habitat, and the prices paid for the crude drugs will not, as yet, tempt many persons to gather the roots, wash, cure, and market them, much less attempt their culture. But Ginseng, Golden Seal, Senega, Serpentaria and Wild Ginger are becoming very scarce, and the prices paid for these roots will induce persons interested in them to study their several natures, manner of growth, natural habitat, methods of propagation, cultivation, etc.
This opens up a new field of industry to persons having the natural aptitude for such work. Of course, the soil and environment must be congenial to the plant grown. A field that would raise an abundance of corn, cotton, or wheat would not raise Ginseng or Golden Seal at all. Yet these plants grown as their natures demand, and by one who "knows," will yield a thousand times more value per acre than corn, cotton or wheat. A very small Ginseng garden is worth quite an acreage of wheat. I have not as yet marketed any cultivated Ginseng. It is too precious and of too much value as a yielder of seeds to dig for the market.
Some years ago I dug and marketed, writes a West Virginia party, the Golden Seal growing in a small plot, ten feet wide by thirty feet long, as a test, to see if the cultivation of this plant would pay. I found that it paid extremely well, although I made this test at a great loss. This bed had been set three years. In setting I used about three times as much ground as was needed, as the plants were set in rows eighteen inches apart and about one foot apart in the rows. The rows should have been one foot apart, and the plants about six inches apart in the rows, or less. I dug the plants in the fall about the time the tops were drying down, washed them clean, dried them carefully in the shade and sold them to a man in the city of Huntington, W Va. He paid me $1.00 per pound and the patch brought me $11.60, or at the rate of $1,684.32 per acre, by actual measure and test.
[Illustration: Canadian Snake Root (Cultivated).]
This experiment opened my eyes very wide. The patch had cost me practically nothing, and taking this view only, had paid "extremely well." But, I said, "I made this test at a great loss," which is true, taking the proper view of the case. Suppose I had cut those roots up into pieces for propagation, and stratified them in boxes of sandy loam through the winter, and when the buds formed on them carefully set them in well prepared beds. I would now have a little growing gold mine. The price has been $1.75 for such stock, or 75% more than when I sold, making an acre of such stuff worth $2,948.56. The $11.60 worth of stock would have set an acre, or nearly so. So my experiment was a great loss, taking this view of it.
I am raising, in a small way, Ginseng, Lady Slipper, Wild Ginger and Virginia Snake Root, and am having very good success with all of it. I am also experimenting with some flowering plants, such as Sweet Harbinger, Hepatica, Blood Root, and Blue Bell. I am trying to propagate and grow some shrubs and trees to be used as yard and cemetery trees. Of these my most interesting one is the American Christmas Holly. I have not made much headway with it yet, but I am not discouraged. I know more about it than when I began, and think I shall succeed. There is good demand for Holly at Christmas time, and I can find ready sale for all I can get. I think the plants should sell well, as it makes a beautiful shrub. I think the time has come when the Ginseng and Golden Seal of commerce and medicine will practically all come from the gardens of the cultivators of these plants. I do not see any danger of overproduction. The demand is great and is increasing year by year. Of course, like the rising of a river, the price may ebb and flow, somewhat, but it is constantly going up.
[Illustration: Blood Root (Cultivated).]
The information contained in the following pages about the habits, range, description and price of scores of root drugs will help hundreds to distinguish the valuable plants from the worthless. In most instances a good photo of the plant and root is given. As Ginseng and Golden Seal are the most valuable, instructions for the cultivation and marketing of same is given in detail. Any root can be successfully grown if the would-be grower will only give close attention to the kind of soil, shade, etc., under which the plant flourishes in its native state.
[Illustration: Sarsaparilla Plant (Wild).]
Detailed methods of growing Ginseng and Golden Seal are given from which it will be learned that the most successful ones are those who are cultivating these plants under conditions as near those as possible which the plants enjoy when growing wild in the forests. Note carefully the nature of the soil, how much sunlight gets to the plants, how much leaf mould and other mulch at the various seasons of the year.
It has been proven that Ginseng and Golden Seal do best when cultivated as near to nature as possible. It is therefore reasonable to assume that all other roots which grow wild and have a cash value, for medicinal and other purposes, will do best when "cultivated" or handled as near as possible under conditions which they thrived when wild in the forests.
Many "root drugs" which at this time are not very valuable--bringing only a few cents a pound--will advance in price and those who wish to engage in the medicinal root growing business can do so with reasonable assurance that prices will advance for the supply growing wild is dwindling smaller and smaller each year. Look at the prices paid for Ginseng and Golden Seal in 1908 and compare with ten years prior or 1898. Who knows but that in the near future an advance of hundreds of per cent. will have been scored on wild turnip, lady's slipper, crawley root, Canada snakeroot, serpentaria (known also as Virginia and Texas snakeroot), yellow dock, black cohosh, Oregon grape, blue cohosh, twinleaf, mayapple, Canada moonseed, blood-root, hydrangea, crane's bill, seneca snakeroot, wild sarsaparilla, pinkroot, black Indian hemp, pleurisy-root, culvers root, dandelion, etc., etc.?
Of course it will be best to grow only the more valuable roots, but at the same time a small patch of one or more of those mentioned above may prove a profitable investment. None of these are apt to command the high price of Ginseng, but the grower must remember that it takes Ginseng some years to produce roots of marketable size, while many other plants produce marketable roots in a year.
There are thousands of land owners in all parts of America that can make money by gathering the roots, plants and barks now growing on their premises. If care is taken to only dig and collect the best specimens an income for years can be had.