2014 ginseng season opens Sept. 1.

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Ginseng ready for harvest in West Virginia
Ginseng ready for harvest in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s 2014 ginseng harvest will open Monday, Sept. 1, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 30, according to Leslie Fitzwater Smithson, public information specialist with the W.Va. Division of Forestry. The native herb grows in all 55 counties in West Virginia and is ready to harvest when its berries turn red. State law requires “sengers,” those who dig the root, to harvest only plants with three or more prongs. The number of prongs indicates the age of the plant. Only plants five-years old and older can legally be harvested, and sengers are required to replant the berries and seeds from the parent plant in the spot where they harvested it to help continue the species.

The following laws also apply to the harvesting of ginseng:

  • No permit is needed to dig wild ginseng, but anyone digging ginseng on someone else’s property must carry written permission from the landowner that allows him or her to harvest ginseng on the property.
  • Digging ginseng on public lands, including state forests, state parks, and wildlife management areas, is prohibited.
  • Diggers have until March 31 of each year to sell to a registered West Virginia ginseng dealer or have roots weight-receipted at a division weigh station.
  • Possession of roots is prohibited from April 1 through Aug. 31 without a weight-receipt from the division

Beginning Sept. 1, a list of registered ginseng dealers for 2014-2015 will be available in the ginseng section of WVForestry.com.

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Journalist, historian, and longtime proponent of inventive economic development in West Virginia, David Sibray is the founder, publisher, and editor-in-chief of West Virginia Explorer. For more information, he may be reached at 304-575-7390.