Cumberland Times-News

Local News

August 5, 2013

Ginseng hunting banned on public land

Wild plant known for energy-enhancing, healing properties

CUMBERLAND — Maryland is joining Pennsylvania and West Virginia in prohibiting the collection of wild ginseng from public lands when the season begins Sept. 1.

 The ban becomes effective with the 2013 season as an effort to conserve Maryland’s declining wild ginseng populations, the Department of Natural Resources said in a news release. Harvest from private lands will not be affected by the state land moratorium.

Wild ginseng, a long-lived plant with a limited capacity to reproduce, is on the brink of becoming a threatened species in Maryland, the DNR said. Commercial harvest has become the primary reason for its decline in Western Maryland, where harvest permits are issued. Habitat loss and competition from invasive species have also played a role in waning ginseng populations.

Known for its energy-enhancing and healing properties, ginseng has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. However, with its popularity growing to include markets such as energy drinks, coffee, cosmetics and hair products — and its value soaring — ginseng is being harvested and stripped at an alarming rate. Biologists have documented a steep decline of the species in Maryland, as evidenced by both the disappearance of known populations and decreasing patch sizes.

American ginseng can be found in 34 states, 21 of which list it as a conservation concern. Currently, 15 states prohibit the harvest and sale of wild ginseng.

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