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The History of North American Ginseng

In 1702, a French Jesuit priest by the name of Father Jartoux was helping survey the area of Manchuria when he observed the use of Chinese ginseng and its healing powers. Another Jesuit missionary in Canada, Father Joseph Francis Lafitau was intrigued with its medicinal acteristics and economic value, but also because he felt that if a similar plant could be found in North America, it would support the theory of a land bridge between North America and Asia. In 1716, after three months of searching, Father Lafitau found wild North American ginseng near Montreal. Having soon realized the value of ginseng to the Chinese, the French paid Canadian Indians to dig all they could find and ship to China.

This discovery sparked a Ginseng rush?between Canada and China. This trade soon crossed over the border into the U.S. By the mid-to-late 1800 ginseng was beginning to suffer from over-harvesting and this dwindling supply encouraged farmers to cultivate it. Mr. George Stanton in New York , is generally recognized as the first commercial grower in North America. The key to his success was construction of shade covers, emulating the protective canopy of deciduous trees 

where ginseng grows naturally.

The main growing area in United States is Wisconsin. In year of 1976 , Ontario of Canada started their first American ginseng cultivation. Six years later British Columbia joined them as one of the three major growing areas in North America. British Columbia growers not only have close proximity to the marketplace, but they also pride themselves in the way they share information on efficiency and quality issues. Similarly the semiarid climate available in B.C. provides the most favorable growing environment.

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