Panax trifolius

A dainty white-flowered native ginseng

Panax trifolius dwarf ginseng

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

This delicate and dainty perennial native wildflower is a member of the ginseng family. It grows to a height of 4 to 8 inches in moist, rich woodland settings where the soil is acidic. It produces a single stem with a whorl of 3 stalked leaves, each divided into 3 or sometimes 5 sessile leaflets. The flowers are arranged in a symmetrically rounded cluster called an umbel that rises one to three inches above the leaves. The cluster is about 0.75 inches in diameter. Individual flowers are only 1/8 to 1/16 inches in diameter.

The five tiny petals are usually white but sometimes fade to pink as they mature. Each flower stalk (pedicel) is also white in color, but the main stem of the flower cluster is green or red. There are 5 white stamens. The flowers of some plants are all male while others have both male and female parts. Male plants have a non-functional pistil. Individual plants can change their gender from year to year. The fruit that eventually forms is a yellow berry. Like the flowers these form in a small cluster.

The plant prefers moist soil in lightly shaded locations with rich organic soil. The root system of this species contains a round tuber. This tuber can be eaten raw or cooked, but its unpleasant taste and the scarcity of the plant make this an unwise choice. Native Americans used the plant medically for a variety of ailments, but a different species of ginseng is the one currently used in herbal medicine.

There is a larger related species called the American ginseng (P. quinquefolius).

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Common in moist woods.

Found throughout the state.

Wetland code: Not classified

Flowers late April to early May.

S-rank:  S5 (Secure)
G-rank:  G5 (Secure)

Panax trifolius dwarf ginseng

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA
Panax trifolius gallery
Plant Life-Form
prennial forb
Common Names
dwarf ginseng