Herb: Japanese Ginseng

Latin name: Panax japonicus

Synonyms: Panax pseudoginseng japonicus, Panax repens

Family: Araliaceae (Ginseng Family)

Medicinal use of Japanese Ginseng:

Expectorant, tonic. A decoction of the root is expectorant, febrifuge and stomachic.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Woods in mountains all over Japan.

Edible parts of Japanese Ginseng:

The roots are used as a flavouring in teas and liqueurs. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Other uses of the herb:

The root contains up to 5% saponins and it might be possible to utilize them as a soap.

Propagation of Japanese Ginseng:

Seed - sow in a shady position in a cold frame preferably as soon as it is ripe, otherwise as soon as the seed is obtained. It can be very slow and erratic to germinate. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a shady position in the greenhouse or frame for at least their first winter. Make sure the pots are deep enough to accommodate the roots. Plant out into their permanent positions in late summer. Division in spring.

Cultivation of the herb:

Woods in mountains all over Japan.

Known hazards of Panax japonicus:

The root contains up to 5% saponins. Saponins are found in many foods, such as some beans, and although they are fairly toxic to people they are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problem. Thorough cooking will also break them down. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.