The Hunt For Wild Ginseng In Appalachia’s Semilegal And Highly Lucrative Market

Wild American ginseng roots can be worth hundreds of dollars per pound, thanks to hungry markets in Asia where the plant has been prized for its healing powers since ancient times.

It’s native to Appalachia, where locals have been “hunting” it for generations, and operating in the shadows. But when prices skyrocketed to $1,300 a pound in 2013, a lot more people started to get interested, and started harvesting the roots before they were ready — putting the native population at risk.

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38 thoughts on “The Hunt For Wild Ginseng In Appalachia’s Semilegal And Highly Lucrative Market

  1. yeah but like… has it been proven to actually do anything? I know they say it's a traditional Chinese medicine but has it got any medicinal properties? in traditional Chinese medicine mercury was also considered a medicine too

  2. If it were to be planted, then it would not be wild, even though it grew in the wild. Point being you need let the wild ginseng rehabilitate. It will not grow as fast as people can pick them. So you have to leave an area alone for a few years before the nature rebalances it.

  3. It was people such as Daniel Boone who destroyed the ginseng, not the poor people of the Appalachian mountains. In his time he was one of the largest distributors of ginseng to China. He lost ships at sea with thousands of pounds on board on several occasions. Notice though its the man on the bottom that Vice points the finger at…I know many good elderly people who to this day still dig ginseng just to make ends meet…

  4. I live in Pennsylvania. I live on the very first mountain ridge going east from Pittsburgh. It's one of the largest forests within a hundred miles. It's a mix of private and public land. The private side of it logs it for timber, and they just logged an old growth section that had ginseng growing everywhere. Not only did they log it, they fucking clear cut it. It would take a thousand years for that ginseng to come back. We need to protect our old growth forests- we need new legislation that if you find such and such flora and fauna- it gains automatic protection.

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