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Either of two herbs of the family Araliaceae or their roots, which have long been used as a drug in East Asia and as the ingredient for a stimulating tea. Panax quinquefolium, the North American ginseng, is native from Quebec and Manitoba southward to the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico. Asian ginseng (P. schinseng) is native to northeastern China and Korea and is cultivated in Korea and Japan. Ginseng has a sweetly aromatic flavour. Its root has long been regarded by the Chinese as a panacea for illness; its purported effects include improved mental performance, ability to learn, and memory and sensory awareness.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on ginseng, visit Britannica.com.