Ginseng Root


This specimen of American Ginseng root Panax quinquefolius was donated to the Smithsonian in 1881 by the firm William Schieffelin & Company, a wholesale drug company that was founded in New York City in 1793. Ginseng was used in medicine as a tonic and stimulant, and was considered “useful in loss of appetite, slight nervous debility and weak stomach, [...] in nervous dyspepsia, and in mental exhaustion from overwork.” Beginning in the 18th century, the American root was collected in the wild and exported to China where ginseng was highly revered for its medicinal value, although the American species was considered inferior to the native Chinese ginseng Panax ginseng.

Date Made: 1881

Maker: W. H. Schieffelin and Company

Place Made: United States: New York, New York City

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Medicine, Health & Medicine, American Enterprise

Exhibition: American Enterprise

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Credit Line: Gift of W.H. Schieffelin and Company

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MG.050737Catalog Number: 50737Accession Number: 10696

Object Name: crude drug

Physical Description: ginseng root (overall material)glass (container material)Measurements: overall: 6 in x 2 7/8 in x 2 3/4 in; 15.24 cm x 7.3025 cm x 6.985 cm


Record Id: nmah_1273244

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.