Panax trifolius (Dwarf Ginseng)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; rich woods|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||4 to 8 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A single round cluster about 1 inch diameter at the top of the plant. Flowers are about 1/8 inch across on a white stalk, and have 5 white petals, sometimes tinged pink, and 5 white stamens. Flowers in a cluster are all either male or perfect (both male and female parts). Males flowers have a single short sterile style, perfect flowers have 3 styles about as long as the stamens. A plant has a single cluster.
Leaves and stem:
A set of 3 leaves whorl around the stem about halfway between the base and flower cluster. Leaflets are palmately compound in groups of 3 to 5, toothed, oblong to lance-like to elliptic, wider towards the tip, tappered at the base, the middle leaflet largest and side leaflets progressively smaller. Leave stalks are ¼ to 1¼ inches long; leaflets are stalkless. Stems are unbranched, smooth, reddish green.
Fruit is berry-like, maturing from green to yellow, containing 2 or 3 seeds.
Very similar to its larger relative American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolia), Dwarf Ginseng also has a small tuberous root and to its fortune has not been collected near to extinction. It was never as widespread in Minnesota as the larger ginseng since we sit at the NW limit of its range. A couple nice images of styles on perfect flowers can be found on the Southeastern Flora web site.
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Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken at Banning State Park.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?