Ginseng? Guatemala Rhubarb Is The Local Ginseng Variety?

My friend told me that she has a lot of ginseng plant at home. If my memory serves me right, the plant was brought by her auntie from Korea. Her mother managed to get some and planted it to their small garden.


I asked fro ginseng seedling and she gave me one. I potted it in small clay pot. I water it everyday, weed it, and apply some organic fertilizers. Then the ginseng flowered three times before I successfully got seeds. I sowed the small seed in small milk can. Sooner or later, the seed is going to germinate. I can’t wait to see how it looks.

This is ginseng. I spent an hour googling but I was not able to see exact picture match. I want to know more about this ginseng variety. My wife told me that she once saw this plant. It can grow as tall as human. But she never knew other details. I hope someone can help me.

—————– update as of june 14, 2011

I finally found the real name of this plant. Thanks to my younger sister. She saw it accidentally in botany book.

The real plant name is Guatemala rhubarb with the botanical name of Jatropha podagrica. Common names are gout stick, gout plant, coral plant and physic nut. It belongs to family Euphorbhiaceae.

The leaves with oil is use as warm compress to releive stomach pain.

The root in rhum is used locally as cure-all medicine and aphrodisiac.

It is known as the local ginseng variety.

Seeds are toxic. Ingestion will cause abdominal pain, burning throat sensation, vomiting and diarrhea. Might lead to death according to some reports. The stout stem produces clear sap that cause dermatitis on contact.

update as of june 28, 2011

I said earlier that seeds are toxic. I am wondering how the ants are able to eat the seeds without experiencing any harm.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

25 Replies to “Ginseng? Guatemala Rhubarb Is The Local Ginseng Variety?”

  1. actually i also have this kind of ginseng… correct me if im wrong as per my research….it is a Tracheophyte: Angiosperm: Dicot: Ginseng (Araliaceae)

    But still searching more data about this ginseng…

    can you share more about this plant… 🙂

    1. @blue – thanks for the information!

      The plant have red flower and bear fruit with 2 to 3 seeds. Flowering is in continuous manner. Another set of flower will come out when the fruit of old flower is set. I managed to grow two plants from seeds but was unable to repeat it. I have never seen the root structure yet. I will never uproot any of them unless I have more than ten plants.

      This ginseng loves direct sunlight.

      1. Please take note. The plant pictured above IS NOT GINSENG. It is a plant known as Guatemalan rhubarb of the genus Jathropa, a Euphorbia plant. This is a fast-growing plant, with large woody caudex stem. A yearling plant will have an enlarged woody stem which many mistake to be the ginseng root used in medicine and as aphrodisiac.

        Ginseng on the other hand is a slow-growing plant with fleshy root, belonging to the genus Panax of the family Araliaceae. Real ginseng takes a long period to developed the enlarge root which is used in Chinese medicine and cuisine.

  2. one of my friend sent me details about ginseng, try to anylize the data given below…
    When to harvest ginseng
    During the first year of growth under natural conditions, the above-ground portion of ginseng has three leaflets (like a strawberry). The second year it usually has five leaflets, and in subsequent years two, three, or four prongs with three to five leaflets in each prong. This progressive development of prongs is not necessarily annual; rather, the plant often remains in the two-prong stage for several years and even longer in the three-prong and four-prong stages. Harvesting may occur before plants reach the four-prong stage. Flowers usually develop during the two-pronged stage and a limited number of fruit may mature. By the time the three-prong plants form, you can expect a full complement of 20-40 fruit.
    The majority of plants grown to simulate the wild condition will not reach a desired root size and maturity until 9-10 years after planting. However, you can remove flowers annually from two- and three-prong plants in increase root size and decrease harvest time by a year or so.
    If flowers are not removed, annual seed crops are possible after four or five years. Seedlings can also be sold should thinning prove necessary during the first few years.


    Also as per my research… it could be better if the ginseng plant was placed on a large container… like what we are doing now. Are you familiar to drum container? Cut it into at least half size, and we put at least 3 plants in able to have space for roots.

    for the berries as far as i know, we can sell it… they used the seeds as a powder granules mixed.

    1. @blue- ouch! I have to wait that long! I have not seen yet most of the details you mentioned. Hope I see them after several years. I will transfer my pant to wider container. Many thanks!

    2. We have about 10 ginseng planted,, and we don’t have any idea on how long it will be able to harvest,,
      but thanks to your friends data…

  3. I think this is what they call ‘Buddha Belly Plant’.
    And, as a matter of fact, we have this kind of plant here at home.

    Hope this helps on your query.

    1. It belongs to the family of jatropha with poisonous fruit, like tuba tuba. The fruit of this plant is also toxic. It is not safe to take this!

  4. i have a lot of friends told me that this plant is good,i mean a kind of ginseng also,,,,,…and actually am planning 2 make its root into a liquor but am quiet confused now when i read your comment here guys…
    pls, post more info that you know about this plant guyz… that wud rili help me a lot;;;tnxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  5. It is NOT ginseng. Itis mistaken to be ginseng probably because of the enlarged stem. The practice of putting this in wines/ liquor is dangerous. The use of ginseng with its supposedly medicinal properties has been practiced in China and elsewhere for a centuries. I only saw several Philippine sites/blogs discussing the use of this herb in wine/liquor, and participants are divided on this and no ginseng expert is participating.

  6. i have this kind of plant. is this genuine ginseng w/c is medicinal? is so pls inform me the usage and the process to have it done. thanks.

  7. oucchhh ….several years we had done it the leaves of this plant called ginseng or jatropha we had boil it into the pan in two mugs of water then we drink it? Q. is it harmful to drink? please guide me i want to know more about this plant …

  8. Hello Guys,

    Today is the day that I know the name of this plant, Guatemala Rhubarb. Thanks to you guys.

    I don’t want to argue how you consider this plant, if this is real or not real Ginseng; if this is harmful or not.

    This plant is a blessing to me. Someone, this give me this pot of plant 10 years ago. She said, ” she been looking for a friend whom she feel lighthearted to gift the mother plant. Someone has given this plant to her. This plant comes all the way from America. Her friend purposely carried it on her lap in the jet plane.

    IT was for his husbands long-time illness. My friend have propagated this vastly for as you said guys this plant propgates fast.

    At that time, I had been suffering from menstrual bleeding for more than a year.

    I never bother to use the plant. I am not interested of it. But, in my area it multiplies in numbers of pots.

    Until time when I became worried of my long menstrual period. I was afraid to be examine by a physician. I felt nervous that I might be diagnose to have cancer or tumor or whatever.

    I just prayed to God to give a wisdom on which herbs to use and on what to do.

    One morning, during my routine of visiting my plants. I have thought that this plant has something for me. It was a God intentioned to have that friend to gift me the plant.

    So, guys I prayed and asked God’s guidance on how to prepare the plant as medicine.

    And, lo, I have done it.

    In three days time. I was cured. No side effects felt.

    1. based on these pics, I had planted the same plants, and I had gathered a handful of its seeds after sometimes. I thought then that maybe these can be toasted and grinded and be used as a tea? advisable or not, are the seeds really toxic?

  9. Well,this plants and kind of ginseng for me is miracle. My son have a cyst in his chest and at the back of his lungs,but one month taking of this gensing my son cyst gone even the doctor don’t believe it..he take only that Guatemala ginseng everyday .

  10. My brother have that plant of about 30 pcs. It is easy to propagate.
    The roots has no sign of decay if submerge to alcoholic wine. they call it gensing. I am wandering why the roots is surviving under wine
    in a bottle. Seem I should tell him to stop drinking wine from it.

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