RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Harvesting season for the medicinal Virginia plant, wild American ginseng, has begun, and with the season comes specific rules and regulations surrounding the collection of the threatened species.

Wild American ginseng “is a native slow-growing, shade-loving perennial that grows wild in Virginia’s forests,” according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS).

The root of the plant is used and valued as a medicinal herb, commonly used for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginseng is also said to help regulate blood sugar levels and could help in strengthening the immune system.

Because it is listed as a threatened species, the department is making diggers aware of harvest regulations before collection begins.

  • Wild ginseng harvest season begins on Sept. 1 and ends on Dec. 31 of each year. Wild ginseng cannot be harvested from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31
  • Wild ginseng that is younger than five years old, has fewer than four stem scars present on its rhizome or has fewer than three prongs cannot be harvested
  • Any person who harvests wild ginseng must plant the seeds of the harvested plant at the harvest site at the time of harvest

Harvesting the plant on Virginia public lands, including state and national parks, is prohibited. According to the VDACS, collecting any portion of the plant, including the berries, from federal land is also prohibited, and those found to be in violation could face a $5,000 fine, six months in jail, or both.

Violation of Virginia’s wild ginseng harvest regulations is punishable by imprisonment for up to 12 months, up to a $2,500 fine, or both. That being said, while encouraged, harvesting rules and regulations do not apply to those collecting the plant from their own land.