TDEC Reminds Wild Ginseng Harvesters About Law Changes

  • Monday, August 6, 2012

As part of the Department of Environment and Conservation’s regulatory role regarding the export of wild American ginseng, the Division of Natural Areas is sending out a reminder to harvesters about the 2012 law change.  A series of upcoming public participation opportunities to address potential rule changes has also been announced. 


Effective July 1, 2012, Tennessee’s ginseng harvest law (T.C.A § 70-8-203) was amended to change the harvest season for wild ginseng to September 1 through December 31.  To coincide with the harvest season change, the ginseng buying season also officially begins September 1.   Previously wild ginseng roots could be harvested beginning August 15, which was based on the time of year the ginseng fruit or “berries” ripen.


The original law’s language (T.C.A § 70-8-204) was also amended effective July 1, 2012, to state that it is unlawful for any person to knowingly dig, harvest, collect, or remove wild ginseng from any land that such person does not own, on any date not within the wild harvest season.


“Over the years it has been shown that August 15 is too early for the wild ginseng fruits to be fully ripened and the original season had the potential to be detrimental to the survival of this particular species,” said David Lincicome, manager with the division’s natural heritage and rare plant recovery program. 



Lincicome noted that harvesters are still required by law to replant the fruits when the plant or “root” is harvested for long-term sustainability.


The new law and rule changes were encouraged by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the 19 states approved to export wild American ginseng in an effort to have consistent regulations across the states and to better assess the exportation of wild American ginseng and the long-term survival of the species. 


TDEC is proposing additional changes to the ginseng dealer registration rules, recommending changing the buying period of wild dry ginseng roots to September 15. Wild green roots can still be purchased on September 1. TDEC will hold two public rulemaking hearings this month to address these proposed changes, slated for August 28 in Knoxville and August 30 in Nashville. 


As part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, TDEC regulates the export of wild ginseng by issuing a license for its purchase, sale and exportation.  Licensed ginseng dealers are required to submit an annual report of all transactions to TDEC. 

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