Wisconsin DNR placing cameras on ginseng plants to gather season-long information

The Wisconsin DNR is trying to learn more about wild ginseng by using trail cameras to monitor plants. (Photo by Jerry Davis)

I know science and its methodology, called research, are dirty words in some Wisconsin places and to some people. Call it what you want, but it’s a necessary endeavor if there is any chance of saving the state’s herb.

That’s right – ginseng is now a state symbol, the Wisconsin state herb.

There are those in Wisconsin who believe that in time ginseng may become extinct, or nearly so. When the harvest begins to go in that direction, it is likely to be shut down, by federal law.

Poaching plants and otherwise harvesting illegally is much of the problem. Landowners, conservationists, ethical diggers, and buyers must know, really know for sure, the phenology, germination, predators, weather impacts, best time to set the season, how best to plant the seeds, and where, and much more.

This summer the DNR began a very basic study of the plant’s phenology by using field cameras, set in various regions of southern Wisconsin, for now.

Landowners and farmers should consider cooperating, if asked, on this project. Plants will not be sacrificed but may have to be left standing beyond the digging season to capture all the data possible. But all that is negotiable.

In most places, a plant or two is all that is necessary to be camera-watched.

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