American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) grows in 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 now harvested is sent directly to China. 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.
Laws & Regulations
American ginseng can be harvested in 19 States. In other States where it is known to occur, American ginseng has varying levels of protection and laws vary from State to State. It is illegal to harvest American ginseng roots on most State lands and National Park Service land. Harvest and permitting requirements vary on U.S. Forest Service land. For information on exporting American ginseng, visit our Branch of Permits page.
American ginseng is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The listing covers the export of whole live or dead plants, whole and sliced roots, and parts of roots (including root fibers), but excludes powder or manufactured finished products (e.g. teas, capsules, extracts, confectionary).
Workshops: Connecting Science and Industry
February, 2009: FWS-State Coordination and Public Meeting Meets in Bristol, VA
The Service's International Wildlife Trade Program convened an American ginseng meeting to gather information from the
public in preparation of our 2009 findings on the export of American ginseng roots, for the issuance of permits under CITES. To view PowerPoint presentations presented at the coordination meeting, please visit our Archive page.
For information on exporting American ginseng, visit our Branch of Permits page.