With a family of outdoorsmen, it’s always some sort of season. Right now it’s ginseng season.
If you are late to the ginseng party, here’s the lowdown:
In Indiana, you can legally harvest wild ginseng from September 1 to December 31. The ginseng industry is closely regulated though.
The Indiana DNR website includes the following information for the harvesting of ginseng:
- It is illegal to harvest wild ginseng out of season. A Class A misdemeanor.
- To harvest legally, a ginseng plant must have: at least 3 prongs and a flowering or fruiting stalk, or at least 4 internodes on the rhizome. To harvest plants not meeting these criteria is a Class B infraction.
- It is required that mature fruits and any seeds on the harvested ginseng be planted in the vicinity where the plant was dug and in a manner that encourages germination.
- It is required that the entire stalk and leaves be retained with the plant until it is taken to the harvester’s residence or place of business, unless the root has at least 4 internodes on the rhizome.
- It is illegal to sell or remove mature fruits and seeds from the vicinity where the ginseng was taken.
- It is illegal to buy, sell, or possess any ginseng out of season without written authorization from the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Law Enforcement. A Class B misdemeanor.
- It is illegal to buy uncertified ginseng for resale without an Indiana Ginseng Dealer’s License. A Class B misdemeanor.
- Only certified ginseng can be sold to a buyer in another state. To export uncertified ginseng is a Class A misdemeanor.
- Harvest ginseng only where it is permitted—digging on State property is not allowed; digging on private property without permission is theft; digging on other properties may require a permit.
- Anyone violating these rules will be prosecuted.
Why do people dig ginseng? For the money!
Ginseng sells for between $90 and $500 a pound. Unfortunately, even before it has been dried, it doesn’t weigh much so it takes a whole lot of it to make a pound. Fresh (or non-dried) ginseng sells for less per pound than dried because it loses weight as it dries.
What do people use ginseng for? It’s supposed to have health benefits. Reportedly, ginseng can be used to treat everything from diabetes to menopausal symptoms. But, the actual research and science behind these claims is limited.
But, if you’re going to be in the woods anyway, why not make a little money while you walk?
The plant is generally found in cooler climates, most commonly in Eastern Asia and the United States. Our neck of the woods is prime ginseng territory.
A few years ago, the History Channel did a show about ginseng hunting. It was set in Appalachia and you can find out more about it here. The show was certainly entertaining but didn’t get renewed. It’s too bad. Even if it wasn’t quite realistic . . . and I have no idea if it was, it was fun to watch.
The Hubby is an expert ginseng hunter. But, when the berries are not on the plant, I think all of the plants look like ginseng. I’m not very good at it. The only positive thing I would get out of digging ginseng is the time away from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
In case you want to take a crack at this whole ginseng thing, here’s what the actual plant looks like.
Peace, Love & ‘Sang