The pleasurable activity of “ sanging” or digging ginseng was also one of the most profitable for frontier families. The hardwood forests of Appalachia were the ideal environment for this hardy perennial. Through most of the 19th century tons of ginseng were shipped annually to Asia where it was highly valued for its medicinal properties. In mountain communities, it played an important role as a source of ready cash for subsistence farmers. By the end of the 19th century, over-harvesting led to a sharp decline in production, and poaching on private and public lands remains a problem. Ginseng production remains profitable and sustainable by careful cultivation of commercial ginseng or if only the older wild plants are harvested and their seeds replanted.
Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:
- Burley Tobacco
For over 100 years burley tobacco has been an important cash crop in western North Carolina as well as in other areas of Appalachia. The large, weather-beaten, rough-timbered tobacco […]
- Asheville Boom Feverish economic development is not new to Western North Carolina. The arrival of the railroad in Asheville triggered a boom that resulted in the construction of over 65 new commercial […]
- Logging Industrial logging came to Appalachia with the railroad in the late 19th century. As timber supplies in the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions dwindled, National Lumber Corporation […]
- Fence Laws Until the late 19th century Appalachian agriculture relied heavily on the traditional English practice of common rights to unenclosed law. Individuals had a right to hunt, fish, and graze […]
- Fruit Orchards Fruit has long been an important staple of the Appalachian diet. Early pioneers found wild crabapples, black cherries, plums, persimmons, paw paws, as well as peaches that had been […]