Plant Industry - Ginseng in NC Information



American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) grows in rich woods through most of the eastern United States, including the mountains and upper Piedmont of North Carolina. Ginseng has a long history of use in herbal medicine. The buying and exporting of wild-collected ginseng brings in over three million dollars per year to North Carolina, with over 5000 collectors of the native plant receiving $200-$300 or more per pound of dried wild-collected roots. The collectors sell to the over 40 registered ginseng dealers in the state, who in turn export the majority of the ginseng to Hong Kong and Singapore.

A pound of wild ginseng is not easy to come by, as the plant is by no means abundant and it takes on average over 300 dried roots to make a pound.

As wild ginseng gets increasingly hard to find, many North Carolinians grow their own. Ginseng may be cultivated in beds with artificial shade, selling for far less than wild roots but producing larger crops much faster. "Woods grown" and "wild-simulated" ginseng, grown in woods with little or no tending, take more years to harvest size but fetch prices approaching those of truly wild roots.

Ginseng trade is monitored by state agencies in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to watch that the wild American ginseng doesn't go extinct through overcollection. In North Carolina the agency overseeing the ginseng trade is the Plant Conservation Program in the Plant Industry Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS).

Ginseng is a legally protected plant in North Carolina and is subject to certain regulations.

For additonal informaion please contact: 

Dr. Jeanine Davis, Ph.D.
Associate Pofessor and Extension Specialist 
NCSU-Dept. of Horticultural Science 
455 Research Drive 
Mills River, NC 28759     
Phone: (828) 684-3562

Dr. Davis' ginseng publications are available on the Internet at