Saving Wild American Ginseng
American Ginseng is an amazing American medicinal plant of great value to rural communities, as a sustainable non-timber resource for both landowners and the National Forest Service, and if managed and protected, ginseng can be a sustainable source of wild medicine for future generations.
United Plant Savers acknowledges the incredible historic role that ginseng has played in the American economy and lives of rural Appalachian culture. Those that have grown up in the culture of harvesting medicinal plants are also those that have planted the seeds of ginseng and replenished the woods. United Plant Savers encourages the stewardship of medicinal plants that has been passed down from generation to generation.
What can you do to help?
1) Become a member of United Plant Savers and stay informed on issues related to conservation of medicinal plants. Join UpS here.
2) Sign our Change.org online petition, demonstrate that you care about the future of wild American ginseng and you would like to see state and federal agencies devote more efforts towards preservation of an important American herb.
3) Grow ginseng! Perhaps you have wild ginseng on your land, consider joining our Botanical Sanctuary Network for the conservation of native medicinal plants.
The future viability of wild American ginseng is at-risk due to several factors:
- Increased deer populations who forage on herbaceous plants
- The fact that ginseng is slow growing, and reproduces only by seed
- Poaching in National Parks where harvesting is illegal
- Loss of habitat due to development and mountain top removal
- Invasive plants
- Change in rural culture and increased economic incentives as the price of wild roots continues to rise
UpS supports the wild-crafting of medical plants and helped publish along with the American Herbal Products Association, The Good Stewardship of Harvesting Wild American Ginseng, that highlights sustainable harvesting of wild medicinal plants.
Definition of Wild-Simulated:
Wild-simulated ginseng production is, as the name implies, simply growing ginseng under conditions that mimic those found in the wild.
United Plant Savers supports the efforts to encourage landowners to grow ginseng in its natural habitat.
Wild Simulated-Ginseng helps to take the pressure off of harvesting of wild populations. Ginseng plants that are seeded in a suitable environment can therefore can be grown organically without the use of fungicides or herbicides.
A fantastic video about American Ginseng with some of our favorite people and leaders in American Ginseng research, harvest, and trade can be watched here.
United Plant Savers supports the use of wild-simulated ginseng in herbal products for domestic market as a way to support local land-owners/farmers, and to have a regional supply of ginseng for medicinal use.
United Plant Savers also stresses the importance to only plant with local seed from your bioregion; do not buy seeds from outside of your region so that the genetic integrity of regional populations of ginseng will not be jeopardized/diminished.
To understand the role of genetic diversity and how genetic diversity relates to the medicinal properties of American ginseng read: The relationship between genetic and chemotypic diversity in American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.)
Erin M. Schlag 1, Marla S. McIntosh ⇑, Pytochemistry: Vol 93, September 2013
Dr. Marla McIntosh research paper.
Rules and Regulations in place for harvesting ginseng.
For more information on regulations please check out the Permits & Forms section of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in regards to American Ginseng.
- United Plant Savers since it formed its at-risk list has included American Ginseng. In our 2012 Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation we included an article by: Janet Rock, Gary Kauffman, and Nora Murdock on the dramatic decline of ginseng populations in our national forests and national parks due to poaching and over-harvesting.
- United Plant Savers was a sponsor of the 2013 Ginseng Expo and wrote an article about the expo in our 2013 Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation.
- UpS supports the efforts for state forests to co-manage for non-timber forest products, such as medicinal plants. Here is a link to a recent article, Understanding the relationships between American ginseng harvest and hardwood forests inventory and timber harvest to improve co-management of the forests of eastern United States Author(s): Chamberlain, James L.; Prisley, Stephen; McGuffin, Michael, Date: 2013, Source: Journal of Sustainable Forestry (PDF), on the potential for ginseng to be co-managed with hardwood forests.
- Smoky Mountains National Park a hotbed for ginseng poaching by David Zucchino LA Times Aug. 10, 2013
- Comprehensive website with access to research on wild American Ginseng from Dept of Biology, West Virginia University
United Plant Savers would like to acknowledge all the hard work of state extension agencies; state and federal botanists, and ginseng researchers and growers who are working hard to ensure that wild ginseng will be around for future generations.
"As vital cultural resources, ginseng, commons, and community life are inseparable, yet there are presently no means available for safeguarding that relationship. A standard recourse, declaring ginseng an endangered species, would clearly be culturally destructive, since it would make a vital cultural practice illegal. Wild ginseng in fact would seem to merit federal protection not because it is endangered but because within its limited range it is integral to the venerable social institution of the commons.
Ginseng may be a powerful resource for resolving some very thorny dilemmas. A touchstone for economic, cultural, and environmental interests, ginseng provides a tangible link between ecology and economy. Given ginseng's predilection for native hardwood forest and rich soils, national recognition of its cultural value would be a way to begin safeguarding both a globally significant hardwood forest and the cultural landscape to which it belongs".
Reprinted from Folklife Center News 19, nos. 1 and 2, Winter-Spring 1997
American Ginseng and the Idea of the Commons.....
Link below to American Memory page on ginseng from the Library of Congress
ANNALS OF THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
Issue: The Year in Ecology and Conservation Biology, 2013
Ecology and conservation of ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) in a changing world
James B. McGraw,1 Anne E. Lubbers,2 Martha Van der Voort,3 Emily H. Mooney,4
Mary Ann Furedi,5 Sara Souther,6 Jessica B. Turner,1 and Jennifer Chandler1
2013 McGraw et al Ecology & conservation of ginseng.pdf
Resources for Growing Ginseng:
We would like to thank Equinox Botanicals for sponsoring our ginseng page and they have a new line of syrups in which 5% of the proceeds goes to UpS. Equinox farm also produces an American Ginseng extract that is sustainably harvested in Ohio from wild-simulated sources.
This plant sponsored by Equinox Botanicals - http://www.equinoxbotanicals.com/
American Ginseng Podcast - The Plant Detective by Flora Delaterre