An outdoorsman called the other evening with his thoughts about ginseng harvesting in Wisconsin. He was disappointed that he had been seeing “all these glossy photographs,” of ginseng in local newspapers.
His frustration was that the print media, and those who write about outdoorsy things, were showing everyone what the plants look like and these young people, or new diggers, would learn to recognize it, harvest it, and soon the plant would be gone. Or at least the competition would be much greater.
A ginseng digger himself, he seemed to be saying there just isn’t enough to go around. Keep it secret. Maybe beyond that he was saying new diggers would not be as careful as experienced diggers in leaving small plants to grow, planting the seeds in the woods where plants are harvested, the sorts of things that are part of the regulations but sometimes not followed.
To back up a bit, Wisconsin wardens were trying, by the news releases, to alert landowners that unscrupulous individuals may be trespassing for the purpose of stealing ginseng. Further, landowners should be aware of what they may have on their land and be concerned that vehicles parked in unusual locations may be a sign of trespassers.
As experienced diggers will express, it takes a long while to learn how to find, get permission and harvest ginseng.
Yes, the roots are valuable, often selling for more than $150 a pound, green weight.
But in an attempt to educate landowners about valuable plants they may have growing on their land, encouraging potential diggers to try to dig for what some call gold?
I thought about his man’s concern, and having dug, sold, planted, and watched ginseng grow for more than 50 years, I do not believe we should approach this problem by being secretive about ginseng’s identity.
To know it and understand ginseng is to conserve and protect it. How else might a landowner be able to protect the plant?
Ginseng should be a renewable resource. If necessary, rules may have to be changed.
A little bit of information can be harmful. More information can lead to a better understanding, better wise use of the resources.