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Wisconsin Wild Ginseng Program

Regulations and licensing

Wild ginseng is American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) that:

  1. is naturally occurring and is not grown or nurtured in any way, or
  2. was started from wild or cultivated seeds planted in a wild forest habitat and not nurtured or manipulated in any way prior to harvest.

To help ensure the survival of American ginseng in the wild and thereby maintain its biological, economic, and cultural functions and values, Wisconsin law regulates:

  • the harvest of wild ginseng in Wisconsin,
  • the engaging in business with wild ginseng in Wisconsin,
  • the shipment/transport of wild ginseng out of and into Wisconsin.

For a summary of Wisconsin's wild ginseng laws see:
Guide to Wisconsin's Wild Ginseng Regulations [PDF]

For Wisconsin's complete wild ginseng laws, consult: s. 29.611, Wisconsin Statutes [exit DNR] and
ch. NR 28, Wisconsin Administrative Code [exit DNR]

Overview

Wild ginseng regulations

Recognizing that commercial demands may cause over harvesting of ginseng, Wisconsin law regulates the harvest, sale and purchase of wild ginseng in the state. In order to promote the most sustainable harvesting practices, international trade agreements permit U.S. export of wild ginseng only from those states that can annually show that harvest and export are not harming the wild ginseng resource.

These regulations do not apply to any cultivated ginseng. For information on cultivated ginseng, visit the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's cultivated ginseng [exit DNR] site.

Harvesting & Harvest License

License Requirements. No person may harvest (cut, root up, gather, carry away or destroy) wild ginseng unless the person has a valid wild ginseng harvest license issued by the department.

Persons possessing a valid Wisconsin Wild Ginseng Harvest License may harvest wild ginseng as follows:

  • Only from September 1 - November 1, and
  • Only with the permission of the land owner or public land manager. Note; Harvest is prohibitied on any State-owned or administered land. Wild ginseng harvest is prohibited on most lands managed by federal, county, or local units of government; contact the applicable property manager for detailed regulations. and
  • Only in accordance with all other Wisconsin wild ginseng laws found in s. 29.611, Wisconsin Statutes [exit DNR] and ch. NR 28, Wisconsin Administrative Code [exit DNR]

HARVEST LICENSE OPTIONS:

  • Resident Annual Wild Ginseng Harvest License ($15.75)
  • Non-resent Annual Wild Ginseng harvest License ($30.75)

Harvest licenses are available online at gowild.wi.gov [exit DNR] and at DNR license sales locations [exit DNR]. Harvest licenses are valid from September 1 - November 1.

Digging

Wild ginseng plants may be harvested only if they possess three or more true leaves (prongs) and a flowering/fruiting stalk. The entire stalk, minus mature berries, shall be kept with the plant until they are taken to the harvester's home or place of business.

When harvesting wild ginseng, harvesters must plant all of the seeds from the harvested plants in the vicinity of the parent plants in a way that will encourage their germination and growth. Wild seed may not be sold or transported away from the site of the parent plant. This helps to keep the wild ginseng population secure for future generations.

SALES BY HARVERST LICENSE HOLDERS

Wild ginseng harvested in Wisconsin in a lawful manner and with a valid Wisconsin wild ginseng harvest license can be sold only:

  1. by the license holder who harvested the ginseng, and
  2. to a licensed Wisconsin wild ginseng dealer, and
  3. from September 1 - March 31, both dates inclusive.

Persons who otherwise engage in business with wild ginseng in Wisconsin must have a valid Wisconsin Wild Ginseng Dealer license.

For a summary of Wisconsin's wild ginseng laws see:
Guide to Wisconsin Wild Ginseng Regulations [PDF]

For Wisconsin's complete wild ginseng laws, consult:
Wis. Stats. 29.611 [exit DNR] and Chapter NR 28 Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR].

Engaging in Business & Dealer Licenses

License Requirements. All persons who engage in business (including but not limited to purchasing, selling, holding, brokering, billing or receiving payment for, contracting for or advertising either for cash or on consignment) with wild ginseng in Wisconsin shall have a valid Wisconsin Wild Ginseng Dealer License in their own name.Exception: Paid employees or family members of a licensed dealer who are working at that dealer’s primary place of business as indicated on the dealer’s license may engage in business with wild ginseng under the authority of that licensed dealer’s Wisconsin Wild Ginseng Dealer License.

Dealer License Options:

Resident Licenses:

  • Class A ($100) - authorizes the purchase of not more than 100 pounds dry weight of wild ginseng in a license year.
  • Class B ($500) - authorizes the purchase of not more than 1,000 pounds dry weight of wild ginseng in a license year.
  • Class C ($1000) - authorizes the purchase of any amount of wild ginseng in a license year.

Non-Resident License:

  • Non-resident ($1000) for transactions of unlimited amounts in a license year.

Dealer licenses are valid July 1 to June 30. Applications are available through DNR Customer and Outreach Services (1-888-936-7463). View a list of licensed Wisconsin wild ginseng dealers [PDF].

Transactions and reporting

Dealers shall maintain records of the quantity purchased, the name and wild ginseng license number of the vendor (harvesters or other dealers), and date of purchase for every purchase transaction.

Dealers shall maintain records and reports of all sales, shipments and transactions (including gifts). In addition, each dealer must complete and submit a Wild Ginseng Dealer’s Annual Report Form and a Wild Ginseng Dealer’s Inventory Report Form by April 15 each year.

Shipments of wild ginseng to locations outside of Wisconsin by licensed dealers or harvesters shall be accompanied by a certificate of origin. Licensed dealers or harvesters shall complete all information required by the department on the certificate of origin.

For all regulations relating to wild ginseng, see Wis. Stats. 29.611 [exit DNR] and Chapter NR 28 Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR].

Resources

Cultivated ginseng

Cultivated ginseng includes woods-grown and is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. For information about their cultivated ginseng program, licensing and certification, visit their ginseng web page [exit DNR].

Federal regulations

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) is charged with regulating ginseng through the Division of Scientific Authority and Division of Management Authority. For export permit applications and past Scientific Authority findings, visit the USFWS American Ginseng [exit DNR] web page.

USFWS regulations that implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): 50 CFR Parts 10, 13, 17, and 23 [exit DNR].

USDA-APHIS handles inspections at authorized ports. Review their requirements for export before exporting ginseng.

International regulations

Research

Contact information
For more information on wild ginseng, contact:
Char Robaidek
608-438-5496