Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
July 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Ginseng in Canadian History


Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium L., Araliaceae), an herbaceous perennial springing from large, spindle-shaped, aromatic roots. The erect, simple stems bear a solitary whorl of 3 long-petioled, compound leaves, the leaflets are large, thin, oblong, and pointed. The flowers are greenish-white, in a simple terminal umbel, and the fruit is bright red, and berry-like. It grows in rich cool woods throughout Quebec and Ontario. Its foot, which is stout and generally forked, was formerly valued highly by the Chinese on account of its supposed remedial qualities. About 1718 the plant was identified in Canada ; during the later years of the French régime, an active trade in ginseng sprang up between Canada and China. In 1752 over 50,000 francs' worth of the plant was exported from Quebec. The demand for ginseng; however, brought into the market roots gathered in the wrong season and dried too quickly in ovens; and this inferior product came to be discredited in the Chinese market, with the result that the ginseng trade fell away even more rapidly than it had grown up.

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. III, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 396p., pp. 31-32.


© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College