Chapter 16. Miscellaneous Information.
Remember, unless thoroughly dried roots, herbs, leaves, barks, flowers and seeds are apt to heat or mold which greatly lessens their value. If badly molded they are of little value.
The best time to collect barks is in the spring (When the sap is up) as it will peel easier at that time. Some barks must be rossed, that is, remove the outer or rough woody part. In this class are such barks as white pine, wild cherry, etc.
Leaves and herbs should only be gathered when the plant is mature-grown. In curing they should be kept from the sun as too rapid curing tends to draw the natural color and this should be preserved as much as possible.
Flowers should be gathered in the "height of bloom," for best results. They require considerable attention to preserve as they are apt to turn dark or mold.
The time to gather seeds is when they are ripe. This can easily be determined by the leaves on the plant, vine or shrub which produced the seeds. Generally speaking, seeds are not ripe until early fall, altho some are.
There has been a heavy demand for years for wild cherry bark, sassafras bark, black haw bark, prickly ash bark, slippery elm bark, cotton root bark as well as scullcap plants, (herbs) lobelia herb, golden thread herb and red clover tops.
There has been a cash market for years for the following roots: Blood, senega, golden seal, poke, pink, wild ginger, star, lady slipper, black, mandrake, blue flag and queen's delight.
If you have a few pounds of Ginseng or Golden Seal, pack carefully in a light box and ship by express. If less than four pounds, you can send by mail—postage is only one cent an ounce. A four-pound package by mail can be sent anywhere in America for 64 cents. Expressage, unless short distances, is apt to be more.
In shipping roots, herbs, leaves, seeds, etc., where the value is only a few cents per pound it is best to collect 56 pounds or more before making a shipment. In fact, 100 pounds by freight costs no more than 10, 20, 50 or any amount less than 100 as 100 pounds is the smallest charge. Some of the biggest liars in America seem to be connected with the "seng" growing business. They probably have seed or plants to sell. Be careful in buying—there are many rascals in the business.
There is always a cash market for Ginseng and Golden Seal. In the large cities like New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Montreal, Cincinnati, etc., are dealers who make a special business of buying these roots. In hundreds of smaller cities and towns druggists, merchants, raw fur dealers, etc., buy them also. The roots, barks, leaves, etc., of less value are also bought pretty generally by the above dealers, but if you are unable to find a market for them it will pay you to send 10 cents for copy of Hunter-Trader-Trapper, Columbus, Ohio, which contains a large number of root buyers' advertisements as well as several who want bark, leaves, seeds, flowers, herbs, etc.
Since 1858 Ginseng has increased in value one thousand four hundred per cent., but Golden Seal has increased in value in the same time two thousand four hundred per cent.
Ginseng and Golden Seal should be packed tightly—light but strong boxes and shipped by express. The less valuable roots can be shipped in burlap sacks, boxes, barrels, etc., by freight.
The various roots, barks, leaves, plants, etc., as described in this book are found thruout America. Of course there is no state where all grow wild, but there are many sections where several do. After reading this book carefully you will no doubt be able to distinguish those of value.
Plants are of three classes—annuals, biennials, perennials. Annuals grow from seed to maturity in one year and die; biennials do not flower or produce seed the first year, but do the second and die; perennials are plants which live more than two years. Ginseng plants are perennial.
Roots, leaves, barks, etc., should be spread out thin in some dry, shady place. A barn floor or loft in some shed is a good place, providing it is light and "airy," altho the direct sunlight should not shine upon the articles being "cured." Watch while curing and turn or stir each day.
Prices given for roots, plants, leaves, etc., were those paid by dealers during 1907 unless otherwise specified. These prices, of course, were paid in the leading markets for fair sized lots. If you have only a few pounds or sold at some local market the price received was probably much less. The demand for the various articles varies and, of course, this influences prices—when an article is in demand prices are best.
After studying the "habitat and range" of the various plants as published together with the illustrations, there should be no difficulty in determining the various plants. By "habitat" is meant the natural abode, character of soil, etc., in which the plant thrives best and is found growing wild. To illustrate: Seneca Snakeroot—habitat and range—rocky woods and hillsides are its favorite haunts. It is found in such places from New Brunswick, Canada and Western New England States to Minnesota and the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and south along the Allegheny Mountains to North Carolina and Missouri.
From this it will be seen that it is useless to look for this plant in the Southern States, on the plains or in old cultivated fields, for such places are not its natural home.