Ginseng Season in the Commonwealth

American Ginseng is classified as a threatened species under Virginia’s Endangered Plant and Insect Species Act, and this is an important fact to keep in mind during harvest season. Harvesting of ginseng began on September 1st, and it ends on December 31st, 2020. Keep in mind that it is illegal to harvest wild ginseng from January 1st through August 31st.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is in charge of regulating the harvesting of wild ginseng and subsequent sales of ginseng in the Commonwealth. The VDACS reminds everyone to make certain they understand and adhere to all laws pertaining to the protection of this valuable plant before they risk costly fines and potential imprisonment.
Harvesting ginseng on public lands is prohibited generallly, but in those rare instances it is allowed, ginseng diggers are required to have a permit before harvesting any plants. Additionally, collecting any part of a wild ginseng plant from federal property is illegal and anyone caught doing so could face fines of up to $5,000, up to six months in jail, or both. Violations of ginseng harvest regulations are subject to up to twelve months in prison, and fines up to $2,500 or both.
For anyone harvesting wild ginseng from private lands, written permission must first be obtained prior to the removal or harvesting of any plants. The document should be with the harvester at the time of ginseng collection. Even with permission there are still requirements that harvesters must comply with such as:
Ginseng that is less than five years old, or has fewer than four stem scars present on its rhizome or less than three prongs, may not be harvested. Anyone collecting wild ginseng must then plant the seeds of the harvested plant at the collection site at the time of harvesting.
Anyone accepting to buy or buying ginseng are required to first obtain the appropriate license from VDACS. Additional information is available online at the VDACS website and you may also contact them by phone at 1-804-786-3515.

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