Ngoc Linh ginseng Vietnam’s national treasure

Ngoc Linh ginseng Vietnam’s national treasure


When discussing ginseng, countries such as South Korea, the US, Japan and China are the ones that are best known for ginseng cultivation and processing. In Vietnam, there is a species of ginseng that was discovered in the 70s and has been evaluated as one of the 5 most valuable ginseng species in the world with unparalleled miraculous medicinal value. The product is Ngoc Linh ginseng, a national treasure that is expected to propel Vietnam into the elite world of a “ginseng powerhouse”.

National treasure on “holy land” Ngoc Linh

Before it was discovered by scientists, Ngoc Linh ginseng had been growing quietly in the wilderness of an old forest on Ngoc Linh mountain, located between the two provinces of Kon Tum and Quang Nam. It wasn't until 1973, when the Central Region Health Agency sent a team of 4 of pharmacists led by Dao Kim Long to Ngoc Linh mountain to search for herbal medicine that this precious species of ginseng was discovered.


According to Dao Kim Long, after many days of walking in the forest, at 9:00 am on March 19 1973, at an altitude of 1,800m, the team discovered the first two ginseng plants. That same afternoon, they discovered a dense carpet of the same ginseng, almost purebred, growing healthily and blooming with fragrant flowers by the bank of a stream. After confirming that this was a new and extremely rare ginseng species that had never before been seen anywhere else in the world, Dao Kim Long gave it the scientific name, panax articulatus KL Dao, or Ngoc Linh ginseng as it is often referred to by the people.

After discovering the new ginseng, the Party Committee of Zone 5 directed the Civil Medicine Committee to secretly protect and put the plants to good use. The harvested ginseng then was sent to the Central Pharmaceutical Factory to process and make medicines, and also was sampled and sent to the Hanoi Institute of Medicine at the Ministry of Health, for research purposes.

Since 1973, domestic and international scientists have done much research and discovered that Ngoc Linh ginseng's stems and roots contain a high rate of saponin compound, much higher than other ginseng species. Ngoc Linh ginseng also has preeminent features that Korean and Chinese ginseng do not have. These include important benefits like, antibacterial, anti-depressants, anxiety-reduction, anti-oxidants, and can boost the effects of antibiotics and diabetes medicines. 



Besides having scientific and medicinal value, Ngoc Linh ginseng also has high economic value. It is estimated that for an investment of about 3 billion dong to grow 1 hectare of ginseng, revenue after 5 years can reach 30 billion dong (about more than 1.3 million US dollars). However, growing Ngoc Linh ginseng isn’t an easy feat because the plant can only grow and produce quality ginseng in climatic and soil conditions at an altitude of 1,200-2,000m on the mountain of Ngoc Linh. That’s why the mountain is considered the “holy land” of the precious ginseng.


Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in 2018 highly appreciated the treasure of Ngoc Linh ginseng of Vietnam. Photo: Ngoc Linh Kon Tum Ginseng Joint Stock Company

In 2018, then Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (now President) visited the Ngoc Linh ginseng growing area of Ngoc Linh Kon Tum Ginseng JSC. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc conferred the title of “Vietnam's national treasure” for Ngoc Linh ginseng.



The fact that the head of the government chose to visit Ngoc Linh ginseng area showed great expectations from the country’s leaders for the potential of this precious medicinal plant as not only a “livelihood securer” to the people but also a driving force to help Vietnam develop a world-class pharmaceutical and supplement industry.

Vietnam - a ginseng powerhouse


In order for the “national treasure” Ngoc Linh ginseng to become a “livelihood securer” and a billion-dollar export industry in the coming decades, it requires  effective strategy from local leaders as well as ginseng farmers and producers in Kon Tum, Quang Nam, and the sooner the better. Even South Korea and North Korea, countries with a 1,500-year history of exporting ginseng, had to work hard for a long time before getting where they are today.




In Vietnam, Ngoc Linh ginseng received special attention from the government as shown in the strategic orientations of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc declared at the 2017 National Pharmaceutical Conference and the Conference on Investment and Development of Ngoc Linh Ginseng at Kon Tum in 2018.

Accordingly, Kon Tum, Quang Nam in particular and Vietnam in general must preserve the purebred gene of Ngoc Linh ginseng. After the nation’s ginseng industry reaches an international level of output, scale and brand name, it’s time to put forth a strategy of ginseng products popularization and diversification similar to South Korea’s. It’s also important to position Ngoc Linh ginseng in the high-end segment, worthy of a brand representing a nation.

In Kon Tum, the planning and development of Ngoc Linh ginseng so far has reaped certain successes. One notable example is Ngoc Linh Kon Tum Ginseng JSC.





After more than 20 years of breeding and developing Ngoc Linh ginseng, the enterprise has now cultivated a large ginseng growing area on Ngoc Linh mountain, of where more than 200ha is growing ginseng that is more than 10 years old and ready for use. In 2018, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc visited this area and highly appreciated the business's preservation and development work, as well as forest protection.

Ngoc Linh Kon Tum Ginseng JSC is also a pioneer in manufacturing high-end products from Ngoc Linh ginseng. Applying modern technology, the enterprise has researched and created quality products such as: ginseng wine, Ngoc Linh ginseng extract, Ngoc Linh ginseng tea, Ngoc Linh ginseng soaked in honey, and other types of energy-boosters and skin-nourishing drinks. All are made from quality Ngoc Linh ginseng that is more than 10 years old.





With strategic investment and vision, Ngoc Linh Kon Tum Ginseng JSC has  for many years, been voted one of the Top 10 most trusted brands in Vietnam. To strengthen brand promotion as well as contribute to the community and society, the company regularly supports major cultural events such as sponsoring the Miss Vietnam 2020 event. Most recently, it has become the main sponsor for the National Football Championship for the next 3 years.

In order for Vietnam to soon make a name on the world map of ginseng, it’s necessary for Kon Tum and businesses to proactively and timely transform the province into a concentrated medicinal growing and processing area of the country, considering this a key strategy that needs special development priority.




  • Story: Thanh Hoa & Hong Hanh
  • Photos:  Thanh Hoa, Cao Nguyen, Hoang Ha
  • & Ngoc Linh Kon Tum Ginseng JSC 
  • Designer:  Trang Nhung