FWS issues general advice for 2018 wild and wild-simulated American ginseng harvest

FWS issues general advice for 2018 wild and wild-simulated American ginseng harvest

Legal harvest of wild ginseng roots will not be detrimental to the survival of the species

Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued general advice on Sept. 26 for wild and wild-simulated American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) for the 2018 harvest season in 19 states and the Menominee Indian Tribe in Wisconsin.

The FWS Division of Scientific Authority (DSA) stated that the export of wild and wild-simulated roots legally harvested during the 2018 harvest season will not be detrimental to the survival of the species, if the exported roots are at least five-years old (i.e. four or more stem scars present on the rhizome). This finding is based on FWS's review of annual State and Tribe harvest reports and information from state and federal agencies, industry, scientific and commercial information and indirect information about the status and trade of the species.

American ginseng is included on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which lists species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction now, but may become threatened unless trade is "subject to strict regulation." In producing this report, FWS complied with its responsibility under CITES and the finding concludes that export of wild and wild-simulated American ginseng from 19 specified States and Tribe is not detrimental to the survival of the species, as long as harvested plants are at least five years old. This continues the agency’s current policy of allowing export of ginseng roots collected from the specified states and tribe.

AHPA worked with FWS, United Plant Savers (UpS) and the Ohio-based Roots of Appalachia Growers Association in 2006 to create free brochures for each of the 19 ginseng-range states to provide information on state regulations and input on best harvest practices. The brochures, "Good Stewardship Harvesting of Wild American Ginseng" are available for download at no charge.

2017 harvest data

Approximately 41,811 pounds of wild ginseng roots were harvested in 2017, according to data from the states and tribe. This was down slightly (455 pounds) from the 2016 season total of 42,266 pounds. The harvests in 2016 and 2017 were the smallest since 1999, when the five-year age restriction became a condition to the non-detriment finding. The 2017 harvest was 34 percent less than the 10-year average harvest and all states except Minnesota reported lower harvest amounts. The average number of dried roots per pound was 202, indicating fewer and larger roots per pound than in previous years.

The report also notes that states are reporting an increase in the amount of fresh (green) roots harvest and certified due to a recent shift in the ginseng market.

Ensuring sustainability

The 19 States and Tribe regulate the harvest, selling and certification of wild ginseng roots within their borders in order to support sustainable harvest and regeneration. These regulations include restrictions on harvesting younger plants, a requirement to plant the seeds of harvested plants, and mandatory reporting, inspections and certification of harvested roots.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for the conservation and management of ginseng and its habitat in U.S. National Forests and sets additional restrictions on harvest. These regulations are enforced by state, tribe and federal law enforcement officials.

"The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is a vocal supporter of harvest practices that ensure the sustainability of wild American Ginseng and works with the federal government and states to help the industry implement policies and practices that comply with all relevant regulations and ensure the future success of the species," said AHPA President Michael McGuffin.

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