There isn’t enough wild ginseng to harvest this year. That’s according to the U.S. Forest Service which will not be issuing any ginseng harvesting permits for the Nantahala or Pisgah National Forests in 2021.
“We need to pause the harvest now to help ensure that these plants will be available in future years and for our grandkids and their kids,” said Gary Kauffman, botanist for the National Forests in North Carolina in a press release.
Anyone removing wild ginseng plants or any of its parts from national forest lands without a permit may be fined up to $5,000, given a 6-month sentence in federal prison, or both.
“Every year we’ve seen fewer ginseng plants and the danger is that they’ll completely disappear from this area,” said Kauffman in a press release. He monitors plant levels and has worked with other organizations to reintroduce ginseng into the forest where the plant has been overharvested.
There has been commercial harvesting of wild ginseng for at least 250 years. But over-harvesting, digging up the plants out of season and not planting seeds for future crops have caused declines in the numbers of ginseng plants in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests.