Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Biology


Heather P. Griscom


Panax quinquefolium, American ginseng, is one of the more valuable non-timber forest products, NTFPs, providing economic, cultural, and ecological ecosystem services in forests. Although ginseng has a broad distribution range, it is not abundant anywhere due to overharvesting and deer browse. This study included experimental field and greenhouse trials to determine optimal growing conditions given inconsistencies regarding aspect and soil. Three soil series and two aspects (represented by soil moisture in the greenhouse) were manipulated in a factorial design. We hypothesized that there would be significant differences in ginseng performance (germination, survival, leaf area, and height) due to soil and aspect. We predicted that ginseng would have greatest leaf area, height, and survival in loam soil that was limed and have lowest leaf area, height, and survival in sandy loam soils. We also predicted that ginseng would perform best on northern sites or high soil moisture and perform the worst on southern sites or low soil moisture. We found that soil type had a significant effect on height and leaf area in greenhouse and field trials (< 0.05). On average, field ginseng from the limed loam soil had 1284 mm2 larger leaf area and 9 mm taller than ginseng from sandy loam. Percent survival was greater in the loam soil at 75% compared to 56% in the sandy loam. We found no effect of aspect or soil moisture on ginseng growth or survival. Having a better understanding of the ecology of ginseng, especially soil series, will help create a ginseng habitat model for national forests and private lands.



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