Panax is a genus of the family Araliaceae. There are about a dozen species, two of which are most often used in medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine value Panax ginseng and use the plant to treat many ailments. American ginseng, Panax quinquefolius is often used as a substitute. In North America, these plants grow wild and are often illegally collected. Many places have laws which protect against the collection of American ginseng roots.
Panax trifolius or Dwarf ginseng can be found in the eastern parts of the United States. The plant is small and produces an inflorescence not larger than an inch in diameter. It is dormant during the winter and blooms in spring. Photo by Nhu Nguyen, April 10, 2006 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.