The New York Times reports a South Korean ginseng plant that fetched a price of $65,000 . That was a "one in a million" 30-year-old plant found by a digger who had a vision of its existence. Ginseng hunting is a spiritual act in many parts of Asia but not as much in the hunting grounds of the U.S. Appalachians. American collectors consider it a source of extra income.
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, L.) is a perennial herb that grows under a portion of the deciduous forests of the eastern United States. It has been harvested in it's wild and natural habitat for centuries. There are federal laws now associated with digging wild ginseng for export and many states have their own digging restrictions that you need to be familiar with.
Wild ginseng once thrived throughout most of the nation's Eastern Seaboard. Because of a demand for the ginseng root (mostly in Asia), which is mainly sought for its healing and curative properties, it needs to be dug with care in the early fall and at the appropriate age (10 years). Here are some guidelines on digging ginseng legally in the American states.
Ginseng with Seed Somewhere in Appalachia - Photo by Steve Nix, Licensed to About.com