The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) announced that wild ginseng harvest season began on September 1. Wild American ginseng is listed as a threatened species in Virginia and VDACS is responsible for regulating ginseng harvest and sales in the Commonwealth.
American ginseng is a native slow-growing, shade-loving perennial that grows wild in Virginia’s forests. The root of the American ginseng plant is valued as a medicinal herb. Before heading to the woods, diggers need to be aware of the harvest regulations.
- Wild ginseng harvest season begins on Sept. 1 and ends on Dec. 31 of each year. Wild ginseng cannot be harvested from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31.
- Wild ginseng that is younger than five years old, has fewer than four stem scars present on its rhizome or has fewer than three prongs cannot be harvested.
- Any person who harvests wild ginseng must plant the seeds of the harvested plant at the harvest site at the time of harvest.
Ginseng collection is prohibited on most public lands in Virginia, to include state and national parks and forests. On public lands where ginseng harvesting is allowed, diggers must obtain a permit from the appropriate office or agency before harvesting any ginseng. Collecting any portion of the plant, including the berries, for personal or commercial use from federal land is strictly prohibited. Anyone caught removing ginseng from federal lands may face a fine of up to $5,000, six months in jail or both. Violation of Virginia’s wild ginseng harvest regulations is punishable by imprisonment for up to 12 months, up to a $2,500 fine, or both.
Ginseng harvest regulations do not apply to individuals harvesting wild ginseng from their own land. Individuals harvesting ginseng from private property must obtain permission from the property owner prior to plants being removed. Permission should be in writing and kept with the individual harvester at the time of harvest. Landowners are encouraged to observe the same size and age restrictions and seed planting guidelines to help ensure the continued, long-term viability of wild ginseng when ginseng digging occurs on their property.
Individuals shipping or transporting ginseng from Virginia in amounts of eight ounces or greater per calendar year must have the ginseng certified by VDACS. Individuals buying or accepting ginseng to sell must obtain a license from VDACS.
During the 2021 season, approximately 1,800 pounds of wild ginseng roots were harvested in Virginia, with a value of nearly $500,000. It takes between 250 and 300 roots to acquire one pound of wild ginseng.
Visit the www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant- industry-services-ginseng. shtml for more information or contact Keith Tignor at (804) 786-3515 or firstname.lastname@example.org. gov.
The Virginian Review has been serving Covington, Clifton Forge, Alleghany County and Bath County since 1914.