Virginia’s ginseng harvest season is here: Read the regulations to prevent fines
Environment, Health, Virginia

Virginia’s ginseng harvest season is here: Read the regulations to prevent fines

Crystal Graham
wild ginseng on ground
(© mnimage –

Ginseng harvest season has arrived in the Commonwealth, but harvesters should beware as there are laws in place to protect the plant. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulate the harvest and sales in the state.

American ginseng is a native slow-growing, shade-loving perennial that grows wild in Virginia’s forests. The root of the American ginseng plant is valued as a medicinal herb.

During the 2022 season, approximately 1,600 pounds of wild ginseng roots were harvested in Virginia, with a value of nearly $1.1 million.

It takes between 250 and 300 roots to acquire one pound of wild ginseng.

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Potential fines for harvesting on most public lands

Anyone planning to harvest ginseng should be aware of the harvest regulations protecting this valued plant, according to VDACS.

  • Ginseng collection is prohibited on most public lands in Virginia including state and national parks and forests.  Violation of Virginia’s wild ginseng harvest regulations is punishable by imprisonment for up to 12 months, up to a $2,500 fine, or both.
  • On public lands where ginseng harvesting is allowed, diggers must obtain a permit from the appropriate office or agency before harvesting any ginseng. Collecting any portion of the plant, including the berries, for personal or commercial use from federal land is strictly prohibited.
  • Anyone caught removing ginseng from federal lands may face a fine of up to $5,000, six months in jail, or both.


Wild ginseng harvest season begins on Sept. 1 and ends on Dec. 31 of each year. Wild ginseng cannot be harvested any other time.

  • Wild ginseng that is younger than five years old, has fewer than four stem scars present on its rhizome or has fewer than three prongs should not be harvested.
  • Any person who harvests wild ginseng must plant the seeds of the harvested plant at the harvest site at the time of harvest.
  • Ginseng harvest regulations do not apply to individuals harvesting wild ginseng from their own land.
  • Individuals harvesting ginseng from private property must obtain permission from the property owner prior to plants being removed. Permission should be in writing and kept with the individual harvester at the time of harvest.
  • Land owners are encouraged to observe the same size and age restrictions and seed planting guidelines to help ensure the continued, long-term viability of wild ginseng when ginseng digging occurs on their property.
  • Individuals shipping or transporting ginseng from Virginia in amounts of eight ounces or greater per calendar year must have the ginseng certified by VDACS. Individuals buying or accepting ginseng to sell must obtain a license from VDACS.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.