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Anna Plattner among wild American ginseng. Photo courtesy of Anna Plattner

Anna Plattner among wild American ginseng. Photo courtesy of Anna Plattner

  • Story Circle: Women to the Rescue! Conserving American Ginseng

    Join us for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s next Story Circle about conserving American ginseng, a valuable medicinal plant native to the Appalachian region. The session takes place Thursday, May 14, at noon EDT.  RSVP on the event page, and stream live on the Smithsonian Folklife Facebook page.

    Wild American ginseng was known and used by American Indians, and its lucrative trade with China began as early as the late 1700s. However, overharvesting, land development, and animal browsing have all taken their toll on wild populations of ginseng. From early in the history of its use and economic opportunity, women have been important players, but the voices most often heard in the conversation are men. 

    In this discussion, curator and research specialist Betty Belanus will explore the current state of conservation with three women advocates for American ginseng: Anna Lucio, ginseng coordinator for the state of Kentucky; Susan Leopold, executive director of United Plant Savers; and Anna Plattner, manager of the American Ginseng Pharm. What current conservation and education measures are we taking to sustain the natural population of American ginseng? And what impact might the COVID-19 pandemic have on these efforts?

    This discussion is part of the “American Ginseng: Local Knowledge, Global Roots” project of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s collaboration with Earth Optimism, a Smithsonian-wide initiative highlighting improvements in environmental conservation.


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