According to Shennong Herbal Medicine
(《神农本草经》), the first comprehensive
reference on Chinese medicinal remedies written about
two thousand years ago, in 365 remedies it lists, there
are three types of remedy sources: herbs, animal parts
and minerals; and three levels of remedy qualities: top
quality which promotes physical and mental well beings,
medium quality which regulates yin-yang balance,
and low quality which addresses specified illnesses.
And ginseng is one of those listed in the very front of
the top category.
A vegetational relic of the tertiary period, it appeared
on the earth long before human, and is believed to be more
than just plantation, but blessed by the breath of soul
(灵气), and presented in yin-yang dual
forms, known as genders (雌雄). With its resemblance
to human shape, it gains the name in Chinese as 人参 (Man
Root), and helps strengthening yang energy, increasing
blood supply, improving qi circulation,
vitalities and invigorating mental powers.
Ginseng family, again, can be further divided into three
main groups: wild ginseng, garden ginseng and Korean ginseng.
And among the three, the wild ginseng is reputed as having
the highest nourishing and therapeutical efficacy.
Chinese legends say that wild ginseng can live hundreds
even thousands of years, with a new offshoots growing out
of the main root every 100 years.
The best time for collecting wild ginseng is between the
late July to September, since by then the fleshy roots
turned mature red and thus are easy to be posted by naked
But the wild ginseng is rare to be found, as for to stumble
upon a ginseng with more than a half dozen roots, that
would be extremely unusual.
And then on a Sunday afternoon in early August 2007, an
extremely unusual event occurred. That day, retired Chinese
doctor Lin Xiamen (林秀民) from Yantai (烟台) in Shandong
Province (山东) went to catch cicadas in the North Mountain (北山)
with her husband and friends. When she entered the secluded
Immortal Valley (仙人谷), she spotted a plant blossoming in
the late afternoon winter sun with tiny purple flowers.
She went over to take a close look and there she saw two
dozen fleshy roots in mature red colour branched out of
a main stem, sprawling around. As soon as she recognized
it must be wild ginseng, she also realised it could well
be over 2000 years old. And it is a yin or say
Her extensive knowledge on herbs told her, that wild ginseng
normally does not grow alone, instead they exist in yin-yang pairs,
so there must be a male ginseng in a similar age group
somewhere nearby. She was right, soon she found another
ginseng under a torch tree just two metres away, though
without branch heads but weighted a massive 3.8 kilograms.
After the details of her ginseng luck leaked out, it caused
a quite splash in China. Some congratulated her, some interviewed
her, some allegedly offered 20 million yuans to buy off
the ginseng couple from her, and some, after she revealed
that she tied the ginsengs with red strings to prevent
them from running away as soon as she spotted them, accused
her of being ridiculous and superstitious, and some simply
condemned her for rooting out the guardian and protector
of the mountain.
A village head in the area where the ginseng was found
told the journalist that even though they had never seen
a wild ginseng in their field, a folklore does speak of
a man in robe appeared from time to time being the manifestation
of that soulful root. Thus some people forwarded warnings
to the doctor that the senior ginsengs could be the physical
expressions of highly advanced
cultivators and it is dangerous to move them away from
where they belong.
And some villagers even considered to take legal action
to get their treasure back.
Doctor Lin probably never expected one Sunday afternoon
excursion could bring so much dramas to her previously
quiet life in retirement. But she refuses to budge, neither
accepting the multi-million-yuan offer to sell the ginsengs
for profit, nor preparing to send them back to the village.
But one thing she has already done: she tasted a tiny
piece of ginseng skin and experienced four consecutive
energetic day and night without nap. And one thing she
is also planning to do: to enter Guinness World Record
for her collections as the biggest wild ginseng ever found.
and China Suit