Once abundant ... now rare
Wild ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), also known as American ginseng, was once very abundant in Minnesota. It is now a species of special concern in the state, meaning it is uncommon or has unique or specific habitat requirements and deserves monitoring of its status.
Wild ginseng is one of the native plants covered by a 1973 international treaty for the protection of endangered species. The treaty provides that wild ginseng may be harvested for local sale but its roots may not be exported unless the Endangered Species Scientific Authority determines that continued exports will not threaten the survival of the species.
...The future of wild ginseng in Minnesota is in the hands of the harvesters.
If wild ginseng harvesters (sometimes referred to as "diggers") are careful to follow the harvest practices described on this page, the chances are excellent that instead of facing extinction in Minnesota, ginseng will not only survive but may very likely increase.
Minnesota's ginseng harvest season opens on September 1 and closes December 31 by law (Chapter 6282.0100). It is illegal for harvesters to dig, possess or sell green ginseng before September 1.
Ginseng should never be harvestedbefore berries are bright red and mature.
By law, wild ginseng plants may not be harvested unless they possess three or more true leaves (sometimes called "prongs"). Two-pronged plants, as well as small, three-pronged plants, are immature and should never be gathered or destroyed. Roots from these plants are small, have little value, and likely are to be rejected by dealers.
Harvesting ginseng is allowed by permit on these DNR-administered lands:
If harvesting from land belonging to others, it is important that you first obtain permission from the owner. If you do not, you are guilty of trespassing and the laws and subject to penalties pertaining to trespassing.
Following these guidelines will help to ensure a successful and sustainable ginseng harvest:
The procedure for harvesting ginseng, selling to a ginseng dealer, and dealer certification of ginseng purchased from harvester, contains three steps:
Any wild ginseng harvested in Minnesota and not kept for personal use must be sold to a dealer licensed by -and located in- the state. A dealer's license is required to:
Ginseng harvesters and ginseng dealers need to observe the rules regulating wild ginseng harvest as set out in the MN Administrative Rule 6282.0100 through 6282.0500, General Provisions for harvesting Wild Ginseng.Please note there are four web pages associated with these rules.
Additional information: The US Fish& Wildlife Service has assembled a factsheetfor dealers and exporters of American ginseng.
A ginseng dealer license may be obtained by contacting:
MNDNR License Center
500 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155-4026
(651) 297-1230 or