The ginseng plant

   The plant we call ginseng grows wild in China and in the eastern part of the United States. It is also cultivated in the United States, China, and Japan.
   Ginseng has pretty red berries in the fall, but the plant is not raised for them. It is raised for its roots. They bring high prices in China. So far as anyone knows, the roots are of little real use. But for hundreds of years the Chinese have thought that the roots would cure many kinds of sickness. There are Chinese stories which tell how wild animals protect this wonderful plant. There are other Chinese stories which tell that the plant travels underground to escape its enemies.
   Probably the shape of the ginseng roots gave the Chinese the idea that they would be good medicine. "Ginseng" means "likeness of men." Wild roots bring higher prices than cultivated ones because they are more likely to be shaped like men. Cultivated roots look very much like parsnips.