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DNR to Prohibit Wild Ginseng Harvest on Public Lands

American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)

American Ginseng

In an effort to conserve Maryland’s declining wild ginseng populations, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will be banning the collection of wild ginseng from public lands beginning with the 2013 season. Harvest from private lands will not be affected by the State land moratorium.

Wild ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), a long-lived plant with a limited capacity to reproduce, is on the brink of becoming a Threatened Species in Maryland. Commercial harvest has become the primary reason for its decline in western Maryland, where harvest permits are issued. Habitat loss and competition from invasive species have also played a role in waning ginseng populations.

Known for its energy-enhancing and healing properties, ginseng has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. However, with its popularity growing to include markets such as energy drinks, coffee, cosmetics and hair products – and its value soaring − ginseng is being harvested and stripped at an alarming rate. Biologists have documented a steep decline of the species in Maryland, as evidenced by both the disappearance of known populations and decreasing patch sizes. Without action, ginseng could become extinct in Maryland.

American ginseng can be found in 34 states, 21 of which list it as a conservation concern. Currently, 15 states prohibit the harvest and sale of wild ginseng, while the remaining 19 still allow its harvest and export. Pennsylvania and West Virginia both allow commercial harvest of ginseng from private lands but prohibit harvest from state lands.

Maryland’s move to this more conservative strategy will help maintain wild ginseng as an important component of the State’s natural areas, and preserve its place among the wild flora it supports. Additional information on wild ginseng may be found here.