Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius and Panax ginseng)

*** Update: Read about the outcomes of our proposals at CoP16.

CITES Status | Taxonomy | Description | Habitat | Distribution | About the U.S. Proposal


CITES Status


Credit: Gary Kauffman/USFWS

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) was included in Appendix II when the Convention came into effect on July 1, 1975. The listing now covers whole and sliced roots and parts of roots (Annotation #3).

Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) was included in Appendix II at CoP11. The listing covers only the population in the Russian Federation, and whole and sliced roots and parts of roots (Annotation #3).

The United States has submitted a proposal pdf to amend the annotation to the listings American ginseng and Asian ginseng included in Appendix II. The proposal suggests changing Annotation #3 to read "Designates whole and sliced roots and parts of roots, excluding manufactured parts or derivatives such as powders, pills, extracts, tonics, teas and confectionery."


Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Apiales
Family: Araliaceae
Genus: Panax
Species: quinquefolius (American ginseng)
Species: ginseng (Asian ginseng)


This long-living perennial (a plant that dies back every year in the fall but live more than two years) has compound leaves, small greenish-white flowers centered at the base of the leaves, bright red berry-like fruits, and a fleshy root. The compound leaves are commonly called “prongs.”  Mature plants have 3 or 4 leaves, each with 5 leaflets.  Mature plants are 1-2 feet in height. The root is the part of the plant that is harvested for medicinal and culinary purposes.


American ginseng grows naturally in deciduous hardwood forests (trees that lose their leaves every year).  Asian ginseng grows naturally in coniferous-hardwood forests (forests with evergreen conifers and hardwood trees). 

American ginseng was originally harvested and used by many different Native American tribes.  Today, American ginseng plants are grown in their native habitat and are farmed, mostly for export to Asia where it is used in traditional Asian medicine.


American ginseng

American ginseng is found in eastern Canada and the United States, from the Midwest to the east coast.

Asian ginseng

Asian ginseng is found in eastern Asia, mostly in Korea, northeastern China, and the Russian Federation.

About the U.S. Proposal

At CoP14 (The Hague, 2007), at the request of the Plants Committee, Switzerland submitted a proposal to amend the annotations for Appendix-II medicinal plant species (CoP14 Prop. 27). The proposed amendment to annotation #3 was to remove the language “excluding manufactured parts or derivatives such as powders, pills, extracts, tonics, teas and confectionery.” This proposal was adopted by the Parties.

American ginseng

The United States is the only exporter of wild-harvested roots of Panax quinquefolius. Since the CoP14 change in the CITES listing, there has been confusion regarding whether manufactured products are subject to the provisions of the Convention. Much of this confusion is a result of the removal of the exclusionary language from the annotation adopted at CoP14.

Asian ginseng

This CoP14 change in CITES listing has resulted in signficant confusion regarding whether manufactured products are subject to the provisions of the Convention. Additionally, there might be some confusion in the Russian Federation regarding whether manufactured parts or derivatives are covered under CITES for Panax ginseng. In 2009, extract of Panax ginseng was exported from the Russian Federation with CITES permits despite the fact that extract of this species is exempt from CITES controls.

Additional Information

  • Read the proposal pdf submitted by the United States for consideration at CoP16.
  • To learn about how the United States is working to conserve native species, read Partnering to Conserve Native Species pdf, also published in the Winter 2013 Issue of FWS News.
  • To read the entire FWS News spotlight on CITES, visit our Articles page.