A Future for Ginseng
You may have seen the recent news report which outlined the alarming decline of wild Ginseng populations in the United States due to poaching. In response, the United Plant Savers have begun a petition to encourage the government to coordinate and better manage our most important and threatened woodland plants. Working to protect our woodland medicinals saves forests, supports rural livelihoods, and aides in our health and wellbeing.
We want to encourage the herbal and plant community to join us in supporting United Plant Savers and others by signing this petition.
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is one of the most beautiful plants in our Eastern forests. It shines green under old hardwoods in deep cold Appalachian hollows. It’s a sort of plant that you see glow from the corner of your eyes, but when you look at it straight on it disappears. In pre-colonial old-growth, this plant was a regular ground cover under our lost American Chestnuts and ancient forests.
Ginseng is one of our most respected medicinal plants. Considered an adaptogen, it’s thought to work in a gentle but steady way to recalibrate our bodies to adjust to the stress of everyday life. Many clinical herbalist feel that Ginseng is overused or misused in part because of its popularity as an “energy boosting” herb. In Chinese medicine, North American Ginseng is considered a more cool or tonic form rather than the Chinese Red Ginseng (Panax ginseng). For these reasons and many others, Ginseng is one of the most sought after plants in North America.
Despite being the most federally and state regulated legal plant in the US, there is still a major monetary incentive for poaching. Mountain Rose Herbs has worked with United Plant Savers and other conservation organizations since our inception to protect our wild places and plants. We work with farmers and landowners to reasonably manage and cultivate our native woodland plants and other non-timber forest products. While there is a strong ethical Ginseng wildcrafting culture in the Eastern US, there is an increasing cadre of people destroying wild and woodland cultivated stands of this iconic American plant for short-term profit.
In addition to overharvesting, deer browse from populations that are displaced and have grown too large, mountaintop removal, climate change, the expansion of cities and housing developments, and other landscape-wide changes are a large part of this issue. We encourage people to support organizations like Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild, Appalachian Voices, Beyond Toxics, and other sustainable ecology organizations to help protect our wild lands from these large ecosystem pressures. As “plant people” we also need to work directly to affect where and how Ginseng is managed and harvested.
Together we can help protect and preserve our nation’s rich botanical resources. For our reasonable use, for our children, and for our forests. Please take a moment to sign the petition here:
This post comes to us from Brian, our Domestic Farms Representative! He was born and raised in the southern Appalachian foothills of Alabama and has worked with plants in many ways for over a decade in the Deep South, all along the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Northwest. He studied at the University of Alabama in Environmental Studies and Geography, as well as advanced botany and herbalism with Columbines School of Botanical Studies. Brian loves working with our farmers and wildcrafters across the country to provide the highest quality and most ethically harvested and gathered medicinal plants around.