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Wisconsin wild ginseng programRegulations and licensing
Wild ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) means an unprocessed plant, dry root or live (fresh or green) root that is not grown or nurtured by a person. This includes cultivated seeds that are, planted in a wild forest habitat and not tended in any way prior to harvest. The main points of Wisconsin wild ginseng regulations based on Wis. Stats. 29.611 and Chapter NR 28 Wis. Adm. Code are covered here.
Wild ginseng regulations
Recognizing that commercial demands may cause over harvesting of ginseng, Wisconsin law regulates the harvest, sale and purchase of wild ginseng in the state. In order to promote the most sustainable harvesting practices, international trade agreements permit U.S. export of wild ginseng only from those states that can annually show that harvest and export are not harming the wild ginseng resource.
These regulations do not apply to any cultivated ginseng. For information on cultivated ginseng, visit the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's cultivated ginseng site.
Any person who cuts, roots up, gathers or destroys wild ginseng must have a valid wild ginseng harvest license issued by the department prior to harvest. This does not apply to a person who cuts, roots up, gathers or destroys wild ginseng growing on the person's own land if the ginseng is not sold.
A person who has a valid wild ginseng harvest license may harvest wild ginseng on private lands or public lands not owned by the state only with the permission of the land owner or public land manager.
A harvest license is valid for the taking of wild ginseng beginning September 1 and ending November 1. A valid license must be in the harvester's possession at the time of harvest and the time of sale, and must be shown to conservation wardens upon request and to dealers when selling wild ginseng.
Harvester's wild ginseng regulations and licenses are available at all DNR license sales locations.
To purchase a ginseng harvester license online, visit the online licensing center.
Fees and codes
- Code 193: Resident License - $15.75
- Code 293: Nonresident License - $30.75
Wild ginseng plants shall only be harvested if they possess three or more true leaves - also called prongs - and a flowering/fruiting stalk. The entire stalk, minus the mature fruits, shall be kept with the plant until they are taken to the harvester's home or place of business.
When harvesting wild ginseng, harvesters shall plant all of the seeds from the harvested plants in the vicinity of the parent plants in a way that will encourage their germination and growth. Wild seed may not be sold or transported away from the site of the parent plant. This helps to keep the wild ginseng population secure for future generations.
For more harvesting guidelines, the Wild Ginseng Regulations and Guidelines for Sustainable Harvest brochure is available at all license sales locations.
Any person who purchases at least 8 ounces of wild ginseng for the purpose of resale shall have a valid wild ginseng dealer license issued by the department. All dealer licenses are valid July 1 to June 30 of the following year. Three classes of resident dealer licenses are available.
- Class A ($100) - authorizes the purchase of not more than 100 pounds dry weight of wild ginseng in a license year.
- Class B ($500) - authorizes the purchase of not more than 1,000 pounds dry weight of wild ginseng in a license year.
- Class C ($1000) - authorizes the purchase of any amount of wild ginseng in a license year.
A nonresident cannot be a dealer in Wisconsin unless he or she has a valid nonresident wild ginseng dealer license, which is $1000 and authorizes the purchase of any amount of wild ginseng in a license year.
View a list of licensed Wisconsin wild ginseng dealers.
Transactions and reporting
Dealers shall maintain records of the quantity purchased, the name and wild ginseng license number of the vendor (harvesters or other dealers), and date of purchase for every purchase transaction.
Dealers shall maintain records and reports of all sales, shipments and transactions (including gifts).
Shipments of wild ginseng to locations outside of Wisconsin by licensed dealers or harvesters shall be accompanied by a certificate of origin. Licensed dealers or harvesters shall complete all information required by the department on the certificate of origin.
Cultivated ginseng includes woods-grown and is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. For information about their cultivated ginseng program, licensing and certification, visit their ginseng web page.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) is charged with regulating ginseng through the Division of Scientific Authority and Division of Management Authority. For export permit applications and past Scientific Authority findings, visit the USFWS American Ginseng web page.
USFWS regulations that implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): 50 CFR Parts 10, 13, 17, and 23.
USDA-APHIS handles inspections at authorized ports. Review their requirements for export before exporting ginseng.
- Wild Ginseng Conservation. Dr. James McGraw's Lab, West Virginia University.