How to Harvest Wild American Ginseng


Ginseng is a perennial plant coveted for its long fleshy roots. The roots are edible and used for medicinal purposes to help aid in the treatment of such things as type 2 diabetes and digestive disorders. Today, ginseng is cultivated commercially and imported from other countries, but it is also still found wild in wooded areas in the eastern half of the United States and Canada.

Step 1

Select only mature ginseng to harvest. Wild ginseng must have at least three prongs (branches) with three to five leaflets coming off the main stalk. Some states require the plant have five prongs, as well as fruit-bearing stalk.

Step 2

Measure the ginseng. Another indicator of a mature ginseng is the length from the bottom of the stalk to the first prong. Generally, a half-inch or more space between the two is considered a sign of a mature plant.

Step 3

Measure the height of the plant. One to 2 feet tall indicates a mature plant.

Step 4

Use a trowel to dig up the mature ginseng. Replant new seeds (the red berries) where you dug up the plant (your state may require you to do so). Plant seeds three-quarters to 1 inch beneath the ground.


  • American Herbal Products Association
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

Who Can Help

  • AHPA Good Stewardship Harvesting of Wild American Ginseng
Keywords: identify mature ginseng, good stewardship, wild American ginseng

About this Author

Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. She has also written for various online publications. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.