Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ginseng Heist!

BECKLEY -- West Virginia natural resources police say they have made 11 arrests and seized 190 pounds of dry ginseng that was illegally harvested.

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources estimates the market value of the native herb at $180,000.

The department said Wednesday the arrests followed a year-long investigation in southern West Virginia. Besides the ginseng, they said they also seized stolen guns, illegal drugs and $30,000 in cash.

West Virginia has a ginseng digging season. It begins Sept. 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

The department says the seized ginseng was harvested before the digging season began.

Ginseng long has been coveted in many Asian cultures because the plant's gnarly, multipronged root is believed to have medicinal properties.

Natural resources officials say demand has spurred illegal harvesting."

Dad used to hunt ginseng when he was young but I never learned how to do it.

"American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is native to deciduous forests (forests that lose their leaves every year) of the United States from the Midwest to Maine, primarily in the Appalachian and Ozark regions, and also in eastern Canada.  It is also grown on ginseng farms. It has long been used for medicine, originally harvested by many different Native American tribes and used in Asian medicinal products.

Ginseng root is exported in larger volumes than any other native CITES plant species.  The majority of American ginseng harvested is exported to China. In the United States, the harvest of wild American ginseng for international trade began in the mid-1700s.  Today, the harvest continues to have strong economic and cultural importance to many communities in the United States and to American Indian tribes."

Do you produce, hunt or use ginseng?



  1. I have hunted it down a few times. Tends to grow on South facing slopes in Mid-Missouri. It isn't as economically sought after in my general area but a bit further out it can cause issues with people trespassing and stealing it off private land. I understand that if you can find enough you can make some big money off of it. My grandfather used to claim they survived the depression selling it.

  2. I don't think I would know what it is if I stepped on it but dad did! I am on the lookout for Buckeye trees this fall.


  3. Good sharing. Ginseng is used in traditional and herbal medicine to improve energy levels and concentration. Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer is one of the most well-studied species of ginseng with more than 70 published papers citing its various health promoting benefits. Read more at: