The Morehead News

Rowan County Sports

September 24, 2010

Ginseng harvest on national forest lands

September 24, 2010 —     It’s harvest season, but if you plan to dig for ginseng on the Daniel Boone National Forest, there are a few rules to keep in mind.  

    To harvest ginseng from the national forest, individuals must have a valid permit. The permit will allow collection of ginseng from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Only one $20 permit is issued per person per year. Each individual with a permit may collect up to one pound of green (non-dried) ginseng root.

    The Forest Service will not issue forest-wide permits. The permits are sold at the district offices of the Daniel Boone National Forest, and they are valid only on the district where they are sold.  

    “Each district office can provide a map of the national forest lands on their district,” said David Taylor, Forest Botanist in Winchester, Ky. “Since the national forest is intermingled with private land, ginseng harvesters also need to make sure they are not digging on personal property without a landowner’s permission.”

    “A ginseng permit from the national forest does not allow for the collection of any other plant or animal species,” added Taylor.

    Under export regulations by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ginseng roots collected must be from plants with at least three prongs and at least five years of age. Most ginseng plants produce three prongs by the time they are five years old. The best way to determine age is by counting leaf scars at the top of the root before removing it from the ground.

    Ginseng harvesters are required to plant the seeds within 50 feet of a harvest location to provide for future crops. Harvesters may plant half of the seeds collected and bring the other half to a Daniel Boone National Forest office. The seeds will be sent to a U.S. Forest Service nursery for the propagation of future ginseng populations.

    Ginseng has been collected for centuries, believed by many to contain medicinal properties with various cures. In some areas, the demand is greater than the supply. Over-harvesting and poor collection methods of ginseng have eliminated or reduced wild populations that were once abundant.

    The Kentucky Department of Agriculture requires registration as a ginseng dealer. A dealer is anyone who buys ginseng for resale or sells in interstate commerce.

    The Kentucky state regulations and harvest season for ginseng are different from the rules that apply on the Daniel Boone National Forest. For more information, visit the state website at or the DBNF website at

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