an Education Program
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is native to 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 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 of the other native sites' plant species. The majority of American ginseng harvested is exported to China. In the United States, 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.
Wild and wild-simulated American ginseng roots can only be legally exported if they were harvested from plants that are 5 years of age or older and were legally harvested during the designated State harvest season. Of the 19 States approved by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), 18 States require wild ginseng plants to have 3 leaves (each leaf is comprised of 3-5 leaflets), which ensure that plants are at least 5 years old, and one State (Illinois) requires wild ginseng plants to have 4 leaves and to be 10 years old. Roots of artificially propagated American ginseng can be exported at any age. It is illegal to harvest American ginseng roots on most State lands, and all National Park Service land.