West Virginia’s 2016 ginseng season opened Thursday, Sept. 1 and runs through Wednesday, Nov. 30.
Ginseng grows throughout the state and can be found in all 55 counties. The perennial herb grows slowly with seeds that take two years to germinate. By law, only ginseng plants with three or more prongs are old enough to harvest. The number of prongs indicates the age of the plant. Another way to determine the age of a ginseng plant is to look at the base of the plant stem, where “bud scars” occur. A 5-year-old ginseng root will have at least four scars. The first year does not produce a scar on the root.
In addition, harvesters of ginseng are required to replant the berries/seeds from the parent plant in the spot where they harvested it to help continue the species.
The following laws also apply to the harvesting of ginseng:
• No permit is needed to dig wild ginseng. However, anyone digging ginseng on someone else’s property must carry written permission from the landowner allowing him or her to harvest ginseng on the property.
• No digging is permitted in state forests, state parks or on other state-owned public lands. A permit to dig ginseng in the Monongahela National Forest may be obtained for a fee by calling 304-636-1800.
• Diggers have until Mar. 31 of each year to sell to a registered West Virginia ginseng dealer or have roots weight-receipted at one of the Division of Forestry weigh stations. A weight receipt is a record of the ginseng dug during the current year and the individual who wants to hold it over to the next digging/buying season.
• Possession of ginseng roots is prohibited from Apr. 1 through Aug. 31 without a weight-receipt from the West Virginia Division of Forestry.
• Ginseng must be certified before it leaves the state. Only registered dealers can obtain proper certification to transport ginseng across state lines.
Beginning Sept. 1, a list of registered ginseng dealers for 2016-2017 will be available in the ginseng section of www.wvforestry.com.