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Radix Ginseng (Renseng)

Wild ginseng is called “mountain ginseng”, or “wild mountain ginseng”, whereas the cultivated ones are known as “garden ginseng”, of which, the sun-dried or bake-dried are called “sun-dried ginseng”. When it is first steamed for 3 hours and then dried under the sun or heat it is called “red ginseng”.  The sun-dried and freezing-dried wild ginseng are named “wild sun-dried ginseng”.  

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 Identification

Sun-dried ginseng:  It is a rhizome with dense stem scars in the upper part, but sometimes there are no scars on the rhizome close to the main root.  The adventitious roots on the rhizome are in the shape of a jujube seed.  The main root and rhizome are of the same length or shorter. They are lambdoid-shaped , V-shaped, rhomboid or cylindrical. The main root is grayish-yellow and longitudinally wrinkled.  Dense depressed annulations are on the upper part.  There are usually 2 branch roots.  The rootlets are long and thin, orderly arranged with warty processes. It is hard, and the cross section is yellowish-white and starchy with distinct brownish-yellow rings, yellow-brown dotted resin canals and radial clefts. It slightly has a fragrant odor and it tastes slightly bitter and sweet.
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Sun-dried ginseng (in the category of the garden ginseng):  Its rhizome is fairly short, mostly constricted and curved with sparse depressed circular stem scars.  The main root is spindle-shaped, or cylindrical and grayish-yellow in color. The upper part or the entire root exhibits sparse, shallow, interrupted and coarse transverse striations and distinct longitudinal wrinkles.  It has 2 to 3 branch roots.  The sun-dried ginseng bears numerous slender rootlets with inconspicuous minute tubercles.  Other characteristics are similar to those of the wild ginseng.
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Red ginseng (in the category of the garden ginseng): It is similar to the sun-dried ginseng, but it is translucent, reddish-brown as it is processed in a different way, occasionally exhibiting a few dark yellowish-brown patches.  It is hard and fragile and the cross section is even and cuticular.
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 Quality Classification

In the market it is divided into two categories: Wild ginseng (the best quality) and garden ginseng.  In each category it is further classified into several brands, which vary in price.

 Commonly Seen Fake Ones  

Most ginsengs in the market are cultivated ones.The wild ones are too rare. Some of the cultivated ones are disguised as wild ones.It is essential to look at the rhizome, see if it is connected intentionally, and if there is any minute artificial connections (because the length of the rhizome indicates the age of ginseng).  Carefully observe the pearl-like nodules,which can be man-made.

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