Abstract Heterogeneity of ginsenosides is a remarkable and significant issue because those structure-similar secondary metabolites have different or even totally opposite pharmacological activities. This study describes ginsenoside profile variations in Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer cultivated in Korea using an HPLC-UV coupled to ESI-MS for characterization and quantification of ginsenosides contained in the root of ginseng. The [M-H] − ion was observed for ginsenoside standards (Rg 1, Re, Rf, Rh 1, Rg 2, Rb 1, Rc, Rb 2, Rb 3, Rd, Rg 3 and Rh 2) and 190 different ginseng extracts. The individual variations in the P. ginseng population were classified into three types, based on the expression pattern of six core ginsenosides containing Ra 1/Ra 2 and malonyl-Ra 1/Ra 2 isomers. The variations in the six core ginsenosides, which are defined as pattern indicators, play a key role in discriminating between three subtypes of standard P. ginseng species. In addition, cross-correlation analysis of the identified ginsenosides indicates that the specific ginsenosides, including pattern-indicating components, are in part possibly synthesized via common ginsenoside biosynthesis pathways. Taken together, these findings provide a basis for identifying standard P. ginseng landraces.