U.S. Forest Service lands in Western North Carolina have been severely affected by ginseng poachers. Once abundant throughout the eastern mountains, American ginseng populations have been severely reduced because of repeated poaching.
The roots poached in the Nantahala National Forest are usually young, between 5 and 10 years old, and have not yet reached their full reproductive capacity. In time, the plant’s populations could recover if poaching ceased.
Permits to collect ginseng root in national forests are issued through the U.S. Forest Service in early September. Permits are not available in National Park lands such as the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where even the possession of American ginseng is prohibited.
To report illegal harvesting activities of American ginseng call 257.4200.