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COSEWIC Assessment and Update Status Report on the American Ginseng in Canada

Habitat

Ginseng requires rich, moist, undisturbed and relatively mature sugar maple-dominated deciduous woods in areas of circumneutral soil such as over limestone or marble bedrock (White, 1988). Colonies are often found near the bottom of gentle slopes facing south-east to south-west. This microhabitat is warm, usually well-drained and particularly diverse in species. Ginseng habitat is at continued risk from logging and clearing. In addition, the increasing popularity of woods-cultivation brings additional pressure on potential habitat throughout the species range in Canada. Potential habitat is presently severely restricted in southern Quebec, where development (industrial, housing or recreational) and selective logging are quickly taking place. In eastern Ontario and Quebec, damage to the forest canopy from the ice-storm in January 1998 may have a lasting negative impact on some colonies. Only 20-25% of forest canopy is left in the most severely affected areas in Quebec. As a consequence, woodlot owners are actively clearing their forest to facilitate understorey regrowth. The Monteregian area, south of Montreal, was severely affected by this ice storm and the third largest colony in Quebec (nearly 1000 plants) lost two-thirds of its plants in 1998.