Neither Wild nor Cultivated: American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) Seller Surveys Provide Insights into in situ Planting and Husbandry1

Eric P. Burkhart, Sarah E. Nilson, Cathryn V. Pugh, Grady H. Zuiderveen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Neither Wild nor Cultivated: American Ginseng (Panax quinquefoliusL.) Seller Surveys Provide Insights into in situ Planting and Husbandry. American ginseng has been gathered commercially in eastern North America for nearly 300 years. A possible contemporary influence on wild supplies is the augmentation of wild ginseng populations by harvesters using commercially available stock from cultivation. We utilized a confidential, annual survey over eight years (2012–2019) in Pennsylvania, United States, to examine the extent to which forest planting of commercial germplasm may account for wild ginseng harvest amounts. Three in ten (28%) root sellers reported that some of the ginseng they sold as “wild” was produced using in situ production methods involving scattering seeds in the forest. One in four (26%) of planters reported using commercially available planting stock in these efforts. Moreover, there was geographic overlap between study participants and the top wild ginseng harvest counties, suggesting planting activities might contribute partially to higher harvest amounts. Respondents confided a hesitancy towards reporting ginseng planting activities on buyer paperwork, as is increasingly being requested, fearing price devaluation, theft, taxation, and disagreement over what constitutes “wild.” Our results suggest that an improved understanding of U.S. wild ginseng origins and trends, especially as influenced by in situ planting and forest farming, will require confidential reporting mechanisms to accommodate seller concerns surrounding disclosure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-143
Number of pages18
JournalEconomic Botany
Volume75
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture

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