Ginseng Harvesters Reminded of Shortened Season in Pa. Woodlands

Jul 30, 2013, 10:18 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources' Bureau of Forestry is advising Pennsylvanians involved in the harvest of American ginseng root that the season has been shortened and now will begin Sept. 1.

Designed to protect the species, the regulation change became effective July 20 and moves the season opening date back from Aug. 1. Sought for medicinal and other properties, ginseng may be harvested across Pennsylvania through Nov. 30.

There is general agreement within both the scientific community and the ginseng industry that an Aug. 1 start date was too early to ensure only mature ginseng is harvested and local plant populations survive. The shortened season brings Pennsylvania in line with other ginseng-producing states as well as U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's harvest requests and likely will reduce poaching across state lines.

Classified as "PA Vulnerable," ginseng is protected under the Wild Resource Conservation Act overseen by DCNR.  PA Vulnerable plants are in danger of population decline because of their beauty, economic value, or other factors which entice people to remove them from their native habitats. As it takes a ginseng plant at least five years to mature, its seeds have the best chance of producing new plants if they come from a mature plant and are planted near the site of those harvested. To comply with DCNR's ginseng requirements, a collector may harvest ginseng plants only if:

They have at least three leaves of five leaflets each; they have red berries; they are collected during harvest season; and their seeds are planted in the immediate vicinity of the collection site. While the Bureau of Forestry oversees the licensing of dealers across the state, it does not license those harvesting the plant.

Ginseng has declined from historic levels and continues to be threatened by over-exploitation because demand and price for its roots remain high, according to state and federal officials. White-tailed deer also are taking a toll on ginseng populations in some areas.

Ginseng is a forest plant that is native to the eastern half of the United States and Canada. Parts of the ginseng plant, particularly its root, are valued for their therapeutic qualities and have been traded commercially, both domestically and internationally, for centuries.  Export of ginseng from the U.S. is regulated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Widespread collection of American ginseng root from Pennsylvania forestlands was noted as early as 1783. In recent years, the export of both wild and cultivated ginseng has been increasing from the United States to Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Oceania, and Canada.

For details on ginseng and harvesting regulations in Pennsylvania, visit (select Forestry under Quick Links, then Wild Plants); or contact Rebecca H. Bowen, Chief, Ecological Services Section, Bureau of Forestry, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, P.O. Box 8552, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8552, (717) 772-0258.

Media contact: Terry Brady, 717-772-9101

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources