The Curious History of the Plant That Captivated the World
Author: David A. Taylor
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Category: Health & Fitness
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The story behind ginseng is as remarkable as the root itself. Prized for its legendary curative powers, ginseng launched the rise to power of China's last great dynasty; inspired battles between France and England; and sparked a boom in Minnesota comparable to the California Gold Rush. It has made and broken the fortunes of many and has inspired a subculture in rural America unrivaled by any herb in the plant kingdom. Today ginseng is at the very center of alternative medicine, believed to improve stamina, relieve stress, stimulate the immune system, enhance mental clarity, and restore well-being. It is now being studied by medical researchers for the treatment of cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease. In Ginseng, the Divine Root, David Taylor tracks the path of this fascinating plant—from the forests east of the Mississippi to the bustling streets of Hong Kong and the remote corners of China. He becomes immersed in a world full of wheelers, dealers, diggers, and stealers, all with a common goal: to hunt down the elusive "Root of Life." Weaving together his intriguing adventures with ginseng's rich history, Taylor uncovers a story of international crime, ancient tradition, botany, herbal medicine, and the vagaries of human nature.
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American Ginseng has a strange and perilous history. It has one of the longest germination periods of any known species, and only two environments in the world have offered the ideal growing conditions for wild ginseng. The first was the forests of northern China, which disappeared over a millennium ago, and the sole remaining habitat is the Appalachian Mountain region of eastern North America, an area now threatened by logging and mining. Chinese legend says that ginseng is the child of lightning. The two elemental forces of water and fire fight in an eternal struggle, pouring down rain and snow and blasting the earth with lightning. If that lightning happens to strike a spring of water, the water disappears and in its place grows a ginseng plant -- the fusion of yin and yang, water and fire, darkness and light, and the life force that moves the universe. American ginseng has become perhaps the most treasured of all herbal medicines, promising good health and longevity to those who consume it. Fortunes have been made and lost on the plant, which was America's first export to China -- before our nation even existed. The strange, twisted, man-shaped root today commands as much as two thousand dollars a pound in the hot, noisy ginseng markets of Hong Kong, and a wealthy collector might pay as much as $10,000 for a single, perfect specimen. Ginseng Dreams: The Secret World of America's Most Valuable Plant unfolds ginseng's past and its future through the stories of seven people whose lives have become inextricably bound to it: a huckster, a field researcher, a farmer, a ginseng "missionary," a criminal investigator, a broker, and a cancer researcher. Each of these individuals brings a different perspective to the elusive root -- and each is consumed by a different dream. Kristin Johannsen threads her way though remote woodlands in the Appalachians to observe the fragile plants slowly putting out leaves as part of a three-year growing cycle, during which time the ginseng is vulnerable to both poachers and growing suburban sprawl. She contrasts this with the huge commercial growing fields of Marathon County, Wisconsin, where among potato fields and paper mills, ninety percent of the country's ginseng is produced. Johannsen explores the brisk black market trade in the panacean root and the efforts to save the wild species and its native habitat, and she ends her story in the laboratory, where researchers are investigating ginseng's anti-cancer properties. An absorbing journey into the many worlds of this mysterious and potent plant, Ginseng Dreams tells the extraordinary story of America's little-known natural treasure and the spell it casts on those who seek it.
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The most comprehensive guide to the botany, history, distribution, and cultivation of all known psychoactive plants • Examines 414 psychoactive plants and related substances • Explores how using psychoactive plants in a culturally sanctioned context can produce important insights into the nature of reality • Contains 797 color photographs and 645 black-and-white illustrations In the traditions of every culture, plants have been highly valued for their nourishing, healing, and transformative properties. The most powerful plants--those known to transport the human mind into other dimensions of consciousness--have traditionally been regarded as sacred. In The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants Christian Rätsch details the botany, history, distribution, cultivation, and preparation and dosage of more than 400 psychoactive plants. He discusses their ritual and medicinal usage, cultural artifacts made from these plants, and works of art that either represent or have been inspired by them. The author begins with 168 of the most well-known psychoactives--such as cannabis, datura, and papaver--then presents 133 lesser known substances as well as additional plants known as “legal highs,” plants known only from mythological contexts and literature, and plant products that include substances such as ayahuasca, incense, and soma. The text is lavishly illustrated with 797 color photographs--many of which are from the author’s extensive fieldwork around the world--showing the people, ceremonies, and art related to the ritual use of the world’s sacred psychoactives.
An Environmental History of the Highest Peaks in Eastern America
Author: Timothy Silver
Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Press
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Each year, thousands of tourists visit Mount Mitchell, the most prominent feature of North Carolina's Black Mountain range and the highest peak in the eastern United States. From Native Americans and early explorers to land speculators and conservationists, people have long been drawn to this rugged region. Timothy Silver explores the long and complicated history of the Black Mountains, drawing on both the historical record and his experience as a backpacker and fly fisherman. He chronicles the geological and environmental forces that created this intriguing landscape, then traces its history of environmental change and human intervention from the days of Indian-European contact to today. Among the many tales Silver recounts is that of Elisha Mitchell, the renowned geologist and University of North Carolina professor for whom Mount Mitchell is named, who fell to his death there in 1857. But nature's stories--of forest fires, chestnut blight, competition among plants and animals, insect invasions, and, most recently, airborne toxins and acid rain--are also part of Silver's narrative, making it the first history of the Appalachians in which the natural world gets equal time with human history. It is only by understanding the dynamic between these two forces, Silver says, that we can begin to protect the Black Mountains for future generations.
An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests
Author: Ken Mudge,Steve Gabriel
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
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Learn how to fill forests with food by viewing agriculture from a remarkably different perspective: that a healthy forest can be maintained while growing a wide range of food, medicinal, and other nontimber products. The practices of forestry and farming are often seen as mutually exclusive, because in the modern world, agriculture involves open fields, straight rows, and machinery to grow crops, while forests are reserved primarily for timber and firewood harvesting. In Farming the Woods, authors Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel demonstrate that it doesn’t have to be an either-or scenario, but a complementary one; forest farms can be most productive in places where the plow is not: on steep slopes and in shallow soils. Forest farming is an invaluable practice to integrate into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes increasingly important for farmers. Many of the daily indulgences we take for granted, such as coffee, chocolate, and many tropical fruits, all originate in forest ecosystems. But few know that such abundance is also available in the cool temperate forests of North America. Farming the Woods covers in detail how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value nontimber forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamentals, and more. Along with profiles of forest farmers from around the country, readers are also provided comprehensive information on: • historical perspectives of forest farming; • mimicking the forest in a changing climate; • cultivation of medicinal crops; • cultivation of food crops; • creating a forest nursery; • harvesting and utilizing wood products; • the role of animals in the forest farm; and, • how to design your forest farm and manage it once it’s established. Farming the Woods is an essential book for farmers and gardeners who have access to an established woodland, are looking for productive ways to manage it, and are interested in incorporating aspects of agroforestry, permaculture, forest gardening, and sustainable woodlot management into the concept of a whole-farm organism.
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New York Times Bestseller A Summer Reading Pick for President Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg From a renowned historian comes a groundbreaking narrative of humanity’s creation and evolution—a #1 international bestseller—that explores the ways in which biology and history have defined us and enhanced our understanding of what it means to be “human.” One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one—homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas. Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become? Featuring 27 photographs, 6 maps, and 25 illustrations/diagrams, this provocative and insightful work is sure to spark debate and is essential reading for aficionados of Jared Diamond, James Gleick, Matt Ridley, Robert Wright, and Sharon Moalem.
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Knowing Ginseng Companion Plants make finding Ginseng Habitat Easier! Short and straight to the point. Find the best place to grow or look for ginseng and ginseng companion plants with this do-it-yourself ginseng habitat assessment guide from Wild Ozark. This is a 39-page booklet with specific instructions on what to look for when trying to find the best places to plant or hunt ginseng. Loaded with photos of growing areas and ginseng companion plants. A downloadable PDF file version is available at a discount from WildOzark.com and the Kindle version is FREE through the Amazon Matchbook program if you bought this paperback from Amazon.