Fearsome Roots in a Quiet Forest

David A. Taylor tracks the elusive ginseng plant from the menacing forests of ancient China to the misty slopes of the Smoky Mountains.

David A. Taylor

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fearsome roots

FORESTS INSPIRE INTENSE and intimate reactions: the feelings of peace and awe of temple groves. In mountain forests where ginseng grows, you find more unruly emotions. One evening on a hillside in the North Carolina section of the Great Smoky Mountains, I watched the last sunlight leave the tops of the maples and poplars and waited beside Lamon Brown, a park ranger on a stakeout for ginseng poachers. It was a chilly October evening. I was thankful the rain had held off. In the silence, the forest induced a mild delirium and time stretched like a clock by Dali against a slowly darkening background.

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