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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 planted in a wild forest habitat and not tended in any way prior to harvest.

Wisconsin law regulates the harvest, sale, and purchase of wild
ginseng in the state and its shipment out of and into the state.

For a summary of Wisconsin's wild ginseng laws see:
Guide to Wisconsin's Wild Ginseng Regulations [PDF]

For Wisconsin's complete wild ginseng laws, consult:
s. 29.611, Wisconsin Statutes [exit DNR]
and
ch. NR 28, Wisconsin Administrative Code [exit DNR]

Overview

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 [exit DNR] site.

Harvest License

No person may harvest (cut, root up, gather, carry away or destroy) wild ginseng unless the person has a valid wild ginseng harvest license issued by the department.

Persons possessing a valid Wisconsin Wild Ginseng Harvest License may harvest wild ginseng as follows:

  • Only from September 1 - November 1, and
  • Only with the permission of the land owner or public land manager. Note; No person may harvest wild ginseng from any State-owned lands (property owned or administered by the state of Wisconsin) or from National Parks, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges or Federal Waterfowl Production Areas, and
  • Only in accordance with all other Wisconsin wild ginseng laws found in s. 29.611, Wisconsin Statutes [exit DNR] and ch. NR 28, Wisconsin Administrative Code [exit DNR]

Harvest licenses are available online at gowild.wi.gov [exit DNR] and at DNR license sales locations [exit DNR]. License costs per harvest season are:

  • $15.75 for Wisconsin residents
  • $30.75 for non-residents.

Digging

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 a summary of Wisconsin's wild ginseng laws see:
Guide to Wisconsin Wild Ginseng Regulations [PDF]

For Wisconsin's complete wild ginseng laws, consult:
Wis. Stats. 29.611 [exit DNR] and Chapter NR 28 Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR].

Dealers

Licensing

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 [PDF].

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). In addition, each dealer must complete and submit a Wild Ginseng Dealer’s Annual Report Form and a Wild Ginseng Dealer’s Inventory Report Form by April 15 each year.

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.

For all regulations relating to wild ginseng, see Wis. Stats. 29.611 [exit DNR] and Chapter NR 28 Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR].

Resources

Cultivated ginseng

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 [exit DNR].

Federal regulations

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 [exit DNR] 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 [exit DNR].

USDA-APHIS handles inspections at authorized ports. Review their requirements for export [exit DNR] before exporting ginseng.

International regulations

Research

Contact information
For more information on wild ginseng, contact:
Char Robaidek
608-438-5496
Last revised: Thursday October 17 2019