American germander flowers are lavender or pink and densely spaced. The corolla has an unusual configuration; it seems to have no upper lip, since those 2 lobes are pointed upward like horns, while the lower lip is much larger and more complicated, with 2 rounded side lobes and a large, cupped, bottom lobe; 4 stamens protrude noticeably, with reddish-brown anthers.
American germander is a colony-forming perennial with a 4-sided, hairy stem that is rarely branched. It occurs statewide in fields, prairies, low woods, streamsides, roadsides, railroads, and other disturbed sites, usually in moist soil.
Unlimited harvests have made ginseng decline or disappear in many places. The ginseng trade is regulated internationally and under the Missouri Wildlife Code, with an official collecting season (usually Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, when fruits are on the plants). Diggers can help by squeezing the seeds from fruits into the hole left after the root is excavated.
Long valued as a medicinal plant, ginseng is an annual crop in the United States and Canada valued in excess of $25 million, but overzealous collection is causing serious concern about the survival of American ginseng in the forest ecosystem.
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