Panax trifolius (Dwarf Ginseng)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Araliaceae (Ginseng)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; rich woods
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:4 to 8 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: round

[photo of staminate flowers] A single round cluster about 1 inch diameter at the top of the plant. Flowers are about 1/8 inch across on a white stalk, and have 5 white petals, sometimes tinged pink, and 5 white stamens. Flowers in a cluster are all either male or perfect (both male and female parts). Males flowers have a single short sterile style, perfect flowers have 3 styles about as long as the stamens. A plant has a single cluster.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: whorl Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate

[photo of leaves] A set of 3 leaves whorl around the stem about halfway between the base and flower cluster. Leaflets are palmately compound in groups of 3 to 5, toothed, oblong to lance-like to elliptic, wider towards the tip, tappered at the base, the middle leaflet largest and side leaflets progressively smaller. Leave stalks are ¼ to 1¼ inches long; leaflets are stalkless. Stems are unbranched, smooth, reddish green.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

Fruit is berry-like, maturing from green to yellow, containing 2 or 3 seeds.


Very similar to its larger relative American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolia), Dwarf Ginseng also has a small tuberous root and to its fortune has not been collected near to extinction. It was never as widespread in Minnesota as the larger ginseng since we sit at the NW limit of its range. A couple nice images of styles on perfect flowers can be found on the Southeastern Flora web site.

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More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken at Banning State Park.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: drew - Washington County
on: 2011-06-11 12:16:55

I'm outside Marine and our land has dwarf ginseng. It is coming back after I removed the buckthorn -- this is Washington County which is not shown above in the distribution for dwarf ginseng. These are still young so they haven't flowered yet but otherwise the leaves and roots completely make dwarf ginseng.

Posted by: drew - washington county
on: 2011-06-11 14:45:04

My wrong -- what I thought was dwarf ginseng was actually virginia creeper. Oops.

Posted by: Mary - SE Carlton County
on: 2017-05-20 20:29:50

I found these for the first time last year. There is an extensive area where they cover the ground on a nice sandy loam of a former glacial beach. Currently starting to bloom in spite of the cold.

Posted by: Brett W - Carlton County
on: 2022-06-06 17:12:36

Found today flowering in Nemadji SF. First time seeing these plants so wasn't sure what I had found.

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