Panax quinquefolius L.
CC = 8
CW = 5
MOC = 41
Family - Araliaceae
Habit - Rhizomatous perennial forb with short rhizomes at the tip of the elongate, sometimes branched, fleshy main roots.
Stems - Erect, solitary from the tip of the rhizome, to 50 cm, glabrous.
Leaves - Deciduous, in a single whorl of usually 3-4 at the stem tip, once palmately compound with usually 5 leaflets. Leaflets 6-15 cm long, oblong-obovate to obovate, tapered to a point at the tip, narrowed to a short stalk at the sometimes slightly asymmetrical base, the margins sharply toothed, glabrous or sparsely hairy along the veins. Petioles glabrous, to 10 cm long. Petiolules to 2 cm, glabrous, with a shallow adaxial groove.
Inflorescence - Solitary terminal pedunculate umbel. Peduncle to +10cm long, glabrous. Stalks 1-12 cm long, elongating in fruit, glabrous.
Flowers - Sepals absent or 5 minute teeth. Petals 0.5-1.0 mm long, oblong-elliptic, white to greenish white, glabrous. Stamens 5, erect. Filaments glabrous, 2 mm long, greenish-white. Anthers whitish, 1.1 mm long. Styles 2, green, glabrous, to 1.5 mm. Ovary inferior, 2-locular, with a nectariferous ring at apex.
Fruits - Drupes 9-10 mm long, somewhat flattened and usually slightly 2-lobed, bright red, glabrous, shiny, with 2 stones.
Flowering - June - July.
Habitat - Mesic upland forests, often in ravines, ledges of shaded bluffs and rock outcrops.
Origin - Native to the U.S.
Lookalikes - Aralia nudicaulis.
Other info. - This plant has been found in numerous counties in Missouri, though the distribution has been distorted by extirpation due to overcollecting, and also in some cases by deliberate cultivation. Its natural range is within the eastern half of the continental U.S.
Photographs taken in Missouri, 6-29-01 and 6-25-03 (DETenaglia); also 9-20-2010, 5-19-2020 and 6-4-2020 (SRTurner).