Norman Blake first made me aware of the ginseng root, via his masterful recording of the tune Ginseng Sullivan. He released the song in 1972 on the Back Home in Sulphur Springs album.
Of course, Tony Rice also cut the tune on the Manzanita album that has come to be such a revered classic. Manzanita was released in 1990.
Ginseng can be found everywhere these days it seems. From energy drinks to pills in the pharmacy. From what I understand wild ginseng is very much in demand as it is somehow superior to farmed ginseng. It takes a long time, many years, for a ginseng root to reach maturity. That’s why this story out of China is so newsworthy.
A person from Tonghua city, in the Jilin Province, discovered in the Changbaishang mountains, what experts are saying is a 300 year old wild ginseng plant. The root weighed in at 366 grams and sold for the equivalent of $400,000.
Now that would have been a find for old Ginseng Sullivan!
UPDATE 12:30 p.m. – We got an email from reader Steve Smith who reminded us that Manzanita was initially released on vinyl in 1978 (Rounder shows 1979). Oops!
Steve also says that the CD was first released in 1987. I couldn’t find a verification of that on Rounder’s site.