Being surrounded by ginseng--a low-growing green-leafed herb of North American forests--may have been common in 1751, but today? Ginseng is under siege.
Biologist James McGraw of West Virginia University should know. Today on World Environment Day, and indeed every day, McGraw says that we can learn much about the environment around us from one small plant.
Funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Long Term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB) grant, McGraw and colleagues peer into the lives of more than 4,000 individual ginseng plants each year to see how they're faring.
"These understory plants are subject to all manner of [environmental] stresses," says McGraw. "After a while, you begin to wonder why there are any left."