Pennsylvania Ginseng Laws

Important Update!

DCNR has updated the portion of Chapter 45 of the PA Code that refers to American ginseng. The start date of the harvest season is now September 1st (no longer August 1). DCNR will not certify any harvested ginseng until September 1, 2013.(1) A person may harvest ginseng plants only from September 1 through November 30.

The intent of this regulation is to permit reproduction in wild plants since fruit and seed mature in late summer and early fall. Previous regulation stated that collection is permissible beginning August 1. A fruit is not fully ripe until it is completely red.
(2) Only mature ginseng plants with at least three leaves of five leaflets each may be harvested and only when the seeds (i.e. berries) are red.

The intent of this regulation is to permit plants to reach reproductive maturity (flowering and fruiting stages) and thereby contribute to maintaining or increasing plant numbers. A ginseng plant develops through a series of stages before reaching reproductive maturity. A “mature plant” in this regulation is being defined as at least stage three (i.e., a three-prong) because this is the stage at which plants become capable of significant reproductive effort.

(3) Persons harvesting ginseng plants shall plant the seeds from the plants in the immediate vicinity of the collection site.

The intent of this regulation is to ensure that a local population does not become extinct because a collector has removed the seeds and sowed them elsewhere (such as his or her own backyard). Populations must be allowed to carry on by reseeding in an area. However, forest habitat conditions often change; what may once have been an ideal forested site for establishment might now be largely unsuitable for plants.
In these instances, you should seek to follow the intent of the regulation. Collectors may adjust by sowing berries or seeds in the same general vicinity as long as those locations appear to be conducive to ginseng growth and maturity. These sites would preferably be habitats that are very similar in landform and vegetation characteristics.
(4) A person may not possess harvested, green ginseng roots between April 1 and September 1 of a calendar year.

The intent of this regulation is to ensure that collection does not occur at anytime other than the permitted season.
Collection on Public Lands

Collection of American ginseng is illegal on DCNR State Parks and PA State Game lands. DCNR State Forests currently have a moratorium on collection until the Bureau can determine whether collections would be sustainable.  It is very important for the reputation of the ginseng industry, as well as for continued appreciation and study of ginseng in the Commonwealth, that collectors abide by these prohibitions.

All information courtesy of PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

For more information about Pennsylvania Ginseng laws, check out the Pennsylvania DCNR Ginseng page here.

ALWAYS be sure you understand and follow all State and Federal Ginseng laws. This information is only a guide; be sure to check with your state for the most recent laws and regulations.