West Virginia’s 2015 ginseng digging season started Tuesday, Sept. 1 and runs through Monday, Nov. 30.
The native herb grows in all of the state’s 55 counties and is ready to harvest when its berries turn red.
West Virginia state law requires “sengers,” those who dig the root, to harvest only plants with three or more prongs, indicating the plant is at least 5 years old. The number of prongs indicates the age of the plant.
Another way to determine the age of a ginseng plant is to look at the base of the plant stem, where “bud scars” occur. A 5-year-old ginseng root will have at least four scars. The first year does not produce a scar on the root.
In addition, sengers are required to replant the berries/seeds from the parent plant in the spot where they harvested it to help continue the species.
The following laws also apply to the harvesting of ginseng:
No permit is needed to dig wild ginseng. However, anyone digging ginseng on someone else’s property must carry written permission from the landowner allowing him or her to harvest ginseng on the property.
No digging is permitted in state forests, state parks or on other state-owned public lands. A permit to dig ginseng in the Monongahela National Forest may be obtained for a fee by calling 304-636-1800.
Diggers have until March 31 of each year to sell to a registered West Virginia ginseng dealer or have roots weight-receipted at one of the Division of Forestry weigh stations.
Possession of ginseng roots is prohibited from April 1 through Aug. 31 without a weight-receipt from the West Virginia Division of Forestry.
Ginseng must be certified before it leaves the state. Only registered dealers can obtain the proper certification to transport ginseng across state lines.
Beginning Sept. 1, a list of registered ginseng dealers for 2015-2016 will be available in the ginseng section of www.wvforestry.com.