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What is the difference between Natural Wild and Wild-Simulated Ginseng?

When discussing wild ginseng there are basically two categories: "Natural Wild Grown" and "Wild Simulated".

Natural Wild Ginseng used to be plentiful in parts of the eastern and northern central US, but is now extremely rare due to over harvesting. Wild-Simulated is planted by the grower but then left on its own, without benefit of the grower's care. It is planted in natural conditions, under trees or in ravines with sufficient shade where it would normally be found, and in natural soil conditions conducive to ginseng growth.

The distinction between natural wild grown and wild-simulated is now a bit blurry; some would argue that there is no real wild left as the laws for pickers mandate that they only pick when the seeds are mature, and bury all the seeds from each plant they pull in the same location. That human involvement in purposely planting the seeds would likely make almost all contemporary wild ginseng technically wild-simulated.

Regardless of labeling, most wild simulated roots are grown under such natural conditions and with so little human intervention that even if technically wild-simulated they are often sold as natural wild. Outside of a purist view, there really is no practical difference between a good natural and a good wild-simulated root, and even experts can't distinguish between the two.

Because of the long time between planting and harvesting wild-simulated, often 10 - 12 years, it is a very long term investment for growers. Rarely do you see wild-simulated roots more than 12 years old due to the land owner/grower's need to recoup the time the land has not produced profit. Many wild-simulated roots are around 8 years old.

You sometimes read of prices per pound on the internet in informational articles. These almost always refer to the price per pound when making large wholesale purchases of hundreds of pounds, or purchasing directly from the picker. Even then it is often out of date information that rarely reflects current prices, many sources still quote prices from the 1990s.

On the retail level the ginseng has often passed through several hands, and it is common to see wild-simulated/natural wild going for many hundreds and even thousands of dollars per pound.

If you purchase Wild Ginseng direct from the picker make sure it has been properly reported and state-certified, wild ginseng is a protected plant and subject to regulations regarding harvest and sale.

Unless you can obtain small amounts from pickers who might be willing to deal in small purchases, which is not usually the case, your best bet is Woods Grown, a category of farm-grown ginseng which is neither wild nor wild-simulated but is very similar to natural wild and wild-simulated in the way the root can take on the appearance of a human figure.

In wild, wild simulated, and woods grown ginseng this is most often due to a forked appendage resembling legs and sometimes other "limbs" sticking out like arms. This generally does not happen with field-grown ginseng which is smoother and shaped more like a short carrot.

The appearance of human characteristics is suggestive, and often only a forked lower portion resembling legs is seen, with the body of the root over it like a torso and the neck sitting atop the body of the root like a small head.

Keep in mind that ginseng is a natural product, not a factory made doll. The resemblance to a human body is a resemblance only, and some wild, wild-simulated, and woods grown cultivated ginseng roots contain many appendages, or just a few.

Woods grown would best fit your budget if budget is a consideration.

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