Seasons Below the Peak, above the Creek

Ginseng Season Starts Tuesday August 30, 2015 21:08 - Michael Joslin

Ginseng season starts Tuesday in the North Carolina mountains. For generations mountain folks have hiked into the forest to search for the beautiful and valuable plant that has formed an important part of our heritage. 

Laws have been enacted to protect the plant from over collection, but unfortunately greedy and unscrupulous foragers have damaged the viability of the ginseng crop by digging out of season, taking immature plants, failing to carefully plant the seeds, and poaching on private  and government property.  The television show "Appalachian Outlaws" has encouraged people who are simply thieves to take not only from the people they trespass upon but also from future generations. All the men and women I know who have hunted ginseng for years bemoan the fact that it becomes scarcer with each passing year.  While there have always been some who failed to obey the common sense laws, today a generation of poachers shows no respect for the land or the plants upon it.

Do not collect unless the plant is mature, with at least three prongs, and has ripe, red berries.  Plant the berries nearby.  Do not dig all the plants in a patch. 

Ginseng hunting is a ritual that seizes the imagination of all who scout the woods looking for the elusive plant.  The roots of ginseng gathering extend into the unimaginable past, over 10,000 years ago.  Some scholars believe the early immigrants to North America brought with them across the frozen Bering Straits knowledge of ginseng from their Asian homeland. Please exercise care and nurture the wild gifts as they have supported mountain dwellers for millennia.