Ginseng Diggers: A History of Root and Herb Gathering in Appalachia by Luke Manget

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SKU: 9780813183817 Category:

The harvesting of wild American ginseng (panax quinquefolium), the gnarled, aromatic herb known for its therapeutic and healing properties, is deeply established in North America and has played an especially vital role in the southern and central Appalachian Mountains. Traded through a trans-Pacific network that connected the region to East Asian markets, ginseng was but one of several medicinal Appalachian plants that entered international webs of exchange. As the production of patent medicines and botanical pharmaceutical products escalated in the mid- to late-nineteenth century, southern Appalachia emerged as the United States’ most prolific supplier of many species of medicinal plants. The region achieved this distinction because of its biodiversity and the persistence of certain common rights that guaranteed widespread access to the forested mountainsides, regardless of who owned the land.

Following the Civil War, root digging and herb gathering became one of the most important ways landless families a

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