Siberian ginseng – characteristics, cultivation and use

Siberian ginseng
Siberian ginseng - by Stanislav Doronenko

Siberian ginseng is still an exotic plant in our latitudes. In naturopathy the plant is quite interesting. Some ingredients are particularly effective for stress, fatigue and concentration disorders. For many centuries, the plant has been considered a traditional medicinal plant in Russian and Chinese folk medicine.

Profile of Siberian ginseng:

Scientific name: Eleutherococcus senticosus

Plant family: aralia family, ginseng family (Araliaceae)

Other names: devil’s bush, eleuthero, ciwujia, Devil’s shrub, shigoka, touch-me-not, wild pepper, kan jang

Sowing time / Planting time: Preculture (spring)

Flowering period: July – August

Harvest time: from the third year

Useful plant parts: roots

Location: sunny to partially shaded

Soil quality: humus and sandy soils

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: fatigue, stress, fatigue, nerve damage, liver problems, bronchitis, immune boosting

Use as aromatic herb: no use

Plant characteristics and classification of Siberian ginseng

Origin and occurrence of the Siberian ginseng

Siberian ginseng originally comes from Siberia and is now native to much of eastern Russia, Korea, Japan and eastern China.

The plant grows there mainly in coniferous mountain areas, rarely near the sea. Due to its relatively low location requirements, it can grow there almost anywhere.

Plant order of Siberian ginseng

Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a species that belongs to the family Araliaceae. Known further representatives of this plant family are ivy or common pennywort. The genus Eleutherococcus includes about 40 species that are almost exclusively native to eastern Asia.

Look and characteristics of Siberian ginseng


In the botanical sense, Siberian ginseng is a shrub that can usually reach heights of growth between 1.50 and 7 meters (5 and 23 ft) . The plant is one a summer green plant. In the ground the plant forms a widely branched root system with many fine, whitish to gray root hairs.


The leaves have a round to oval shape, a shiny surface and a light to mint green color. As a rule, they are pentecious and show a dense thorny bloom. The leaf nerves move in a semicircle towards the tip of the leaf. Overall, there are only a few branches per shrub. The olive-green to brownish branches and stems have numerous smaller spines.


The flowering period of Siberian ginseng is generally expected between mid-July and the end of August. The shrub usually forms yellowish, rarely white flowers in umbel-like inflorescence. Its flowers are hermaphrodite.


The female flowers usually develop berry fruits at the beginning of autumn. The berries are initially green and later turn black. Each berry has small tips at the top of each fruit. Each berry contains several crescent-shaped yellowish to brownish seeds, most of which are between 4 and 7 mm (0.16 and 0.28 in) long.

fruits of Siberian ginseng
Fruits of Siberian ginseng – by Stanislav Doronenko

Siberian ginseng – cultivation and care

Among gardeners, Siberian ginseng is rarely grown. The reason is on the one hand, that it is relatively difficult to come to seed. On the other hand, the cultivation is not easy.


Siberian ginseng tolerates both sunny and partially shaded locations. It is very adaptable to many sites.


The plant grows in its original range in both sandy and humus-rich soils.


If you want to cultivate the plant, you should have some experience and patience. Simply spreading the seed will only be successful in very few cases. Before the seeds are incorporated into a substrate, they should be placed in the water for 24 hours. Then they have to be worked into a layer of sand and stay there for about 12 to 16 months. This process is called stratification. As the seeds need light to germ, the sowing depth should not exceed 1 cm (0.4 in). The substrate should always be kept moist and cool. Siberian ginseng is a cold germ. It is advisable to create several reserve seeds, as usually only about 30 percent of the seeds begin to germinate.


Siberian ginseng is a weak to moderate feeder and relatively frugal in terms of nutrient requirements. It is recommended that the plant be given a nitrogenous fertilizer once or twice a year.


Young plants usually need a little more water than older ones. It is advisable to keep the soil slightly moist, especially in the summer months. On very hot days, it may be necessary to water more often. Adult plants, on the other hand, tolerate short periods of drought.

Diseases and pests

Very little is known about which pests or diseases can occur to the Siberian ginseng. Basically, the plant is considered very robust.


Siberian ginseng is adapted to cold regions and therefore does not require wintering protection. The plant has a very high frost tolerance and can easily remain in place even in harsh winters.


If root components are to be obtained for naturopathic applications, the root can only be harvested from the third year. Before, the ingredients as well as the root mass are not sufficiently developed.

Use of the Siberian ginseng

Siberian ginseng in the kitchen

There is no evidence that Siberian ginseng is used in the kitchen.

Siberian ginseng as a medicinal herb

Although the medicinal plant is still unknown to many, it has a long history in Chinese and Russian folk medicine. In northeastern China, the roots of the plant have been and continue used for bronchitis, heart problems and rheumatism. In Russia, Siberian ginseng is traditionally used to strengthen the immune system and promote quality of life.

In Europe, the plant was apparently unknown in the Middle Ages and early modern times. There is no written evidence of use or even knowledge of the plant.

Siberian ginseng contains numerous ingredients which, above all, can strengthen the resistance of our organism and reduce stress symptoms. The medical efficacy of the herb is considered to be well-studied, although it is not known with certainty which active ingredient is the trigger.

In the natural medicine of Siberia, the fruits and the leaves are also used in a similar way as the roots. They also contain the same constituents. The use of above-ground parts of the plant preserves the natural occurrence of the wild species. But also with the taiga root – as with ginseng – people wait for years until roots can be dug up for harvesting. However, the Siberian ginseng is much more vigorous than the ginseng, does not belong to the rare species and forms larger bushes and also more and branched roots.

Siberian ginseng can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • bronchitis
  • diabetes
  • difficulty concentrating
  • diseases of the lungs with respiratory disorders
  • fatigue
  • flu infections
  • inflammation of the ears
  • liver disorders
  • nervous weakness with headache (neurasthenia)
  • radiation damage (presumably)
  • sinusitis

The usual dosage forms are the preparation of a tea, a Siberian ginseng tincture or the intake of capsules.

Preparation of a Siberian ginseng tea

Time needed: 30 minutes

This is how you prepare a Siberian ginseng tea by yourself

  1. put two to three teaspoons of the dried and crushed root in a tea strainer in a cup

  2. dash with hot water

  3. leave to draw until it is luke warm

Do not dirnk more than two cups of tea each day. The application should not exceed four weeks. After an application, a break of about two weeks should be followed before again Siberian ginseng tea can be drunk.

Side effects

People who suffer from high blood pressure should first discuss the intake of Siberian ginseng with a doctor or pharmacist. This cardiac arrhythmia or other cardiac symptoms may be present in this risk group. Also, it has not been ruled out that the consumption of Siberian ginseng may be harmful for pregnant women or infants. Consequently, consumption should be avoided during pregnancy.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

Buying Siberian ginseng – what is there to pay attention to?

Siberian ginseng products are relatively difficult to obtain commercially. Above all, who intends to grow the plant in the garden, sometimes spend a lot of time with the search.

Fresh plants are only rarely available. Since the cultivation of the plant takes a long time and Siberian ginseng is hardly noticed as a garden plant, the sale of plants is not very economical for many plant marketers. However, some online retailers offers plants. The price per plant is about 6 to 20 EUR/$.

Seeds, however, can be obtained only over the internet. Here, strict attention should be paid to the botanical name (Eleutherococcus senticosus), as often other plants of the genus Eleutherococcus are offered. Basically, the seeds cost about 5 EUR/$ per 50 seeds. Here it must be noted that a large part of the seeds (often over 60 percent) do not sprout.

Capsules, tinctures as well as dried roots can be bought for naturopathic application. These are usually available on online marketplaces and occasionally in pharmacies. Root products can be minced or ground. The price level is between 5 and 10 EUR per 100 grams / 3.5 oz.


    • Great question. 🙂 I did some research and added a paragraph at “Siberian ginseng as a medicinal herb”. So yes. You can also use the berries/fruits and leaves.

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