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Finding American Ginseng in Eastern Forests

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Harvesting American Ginseng Seed
American Ginseng Seed

American Ginseng Seed

Steve Nix/ About Forestry

Wild ginseng plants are generally started from seed grown on a five year or older plant. Younger ginseng plants don't create many, if any, viable seed, should be protected and passed over for harvest. Wild "sang" hunters are strongly encouraged to plant the mature, crimson seeds they find back in the general area after harvesting a plant.

These fall planted ginseng seeds will germinate but not during the following spring. The stubborn ginseng seed needs a dormant period of between 18 and 21 months to germinate. American ginseng seeds will only sprout during their second spring. The ginseng seed has to "age" for at least a year in a damp soil and experience the warm/cold sequence of the seasons.

Failure of the ginseng hunter to harvest and plant the ripe crimson berries can also lead to excessive losses from critters like rodents and birds. A good ginseng root collector will select all the mature seeds he or she finds and plant them at a productive location, usually near the seed-bearing plant that has been removed. That location has proven its ability to grow ginseng and would make a great seed bed.

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