Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals might be considered the third incarnation of the popular title American Ginseng: Green Gold which was first published in 1986 and re-published in revised form in 1994. For the production of this updated, expanded and re-titled edition, original author W. Scott Persons has enlisted one of the leading researchers in the field of medicinal plant cultivation (and fellow North Carolinian), Jeanine Davis, as co-author. The result is an authoritative treatise brimming with both practical and scholarly content.
|Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals, by Persons, W. Scott and Davis, Jeanine M., 2005, Bright Mountain Books, Inc., 206 Riva Ridge Drive, Fairview, NC, 28730. 496 pp. Paperback, List $25.00. ISBN 0-914875-42-6.|
This book contains guidance and information for those interested in or already practicing farming of native plants in North America (and perhaps elsewhere in the temperate world). It is divided into two major sections. The first, comprising 211 pages, was written by the first author and deals exclusively with American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). The second section, of 186 pages, was written by the second author and reviews a number of commercially important medicinal plants including goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), ramps (Allium tricoccum), black cohosh (Actaea racemosa), blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) and others. Two smaller sections complete the work by providing color photos and supplemental information.
For each plant species, information on "plant description and range," "names and uses," "how to grow" and "markets" is provided. And for a number of plant species (e.g., American ginseng, goldenseal, black cohosh and bloodroot), additional topics are covered and an enterprise budget (i.e., costs and returns) is included. In the preceding editions, W. Scott Persons incorporated a section relating ginseng "grower stories." Some of these stories are re-printed almost verbatim in this latest edition, but there are also new ones included which relate the experiences and practices of goldenseal, ramp and even specialty nursery growers.
Readers will find this book uneven both in terms of coverage and style. For example, American ginseng, goldenseal and ramps receive the most dedication in terms of pages allotted (310 out of 396). Furthermore, there is a difference in writing styles between the two, separately authored, sections of the work. This unevenness should not significantly detract from the work, however, since most readers will undoubtedly utilize it as a reference work rather than sit-down novel. And there is simply not as much known about growing and marketing many of the plants not extensively covered in this edition; perhaps we can expect more information about these plants in a later one?
Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and Other Woodland Medicinals should be of most interest to those involved with the practice of temperate forest farming---particularly in eastern North America. Nevertheless, it is also likely to appeal to those broadly interested in agroforestry, horticulture and medicinal plants in general. Certainly, it is a singular and timely work that is likely to entice many landowners to adopt forest farming of native medicinal plants. For this reason, it is a significant contribution to temperate agroforestry literature.
By Eric P. Burkhart
School of Forest Resources
The Pennsylvania State University