The American ginseng is a small plant with medium-sized green leaves and small clusters of red berries. The root is used in herbal medicine and looks similar to a parsnip when fresh though ginseng typically has more offshoots.
Ginseng is mainly found in the eastern half of the United States, most often in the Ozarks or the Appalachians. It is native to the forest, and grows close to the ground. Ginseng can only be legally harvested in 19 states. In most of these states, harvesters can only gather plants that are at least 5 years old. The age can be deduced by the number of leaf clusters. Typically, three leaf clusters indicate the plant is old enough for harvest.