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Common Name: Japanese Ginseng
Panax japonicus is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.60 metres tall.
It has edible, medicinal and miscellaneous uses.
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[
E. Asia - China, Japan.
Woods in mountains all over Japan[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in much of the country. This species has 24 chromosomes which makes it quite distinct from P. ginseng which has 44 chromosomes[
]. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.
Requires a moist humus rich soil in a shady position in a woodland[
The roots are used as a flavouring in teas and liqueurs[
]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
A decoction of the root is expectorant, febrifuge and stomachic[
The root contains up to 5% saponins and it might be possible to utilize them as a soap[
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.