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FWS Issues CITES Nondetriment Finding for Wild American Ginseng for 2009-10; AHPA Cited in Report

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) today issued its nondetriment finding for American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) for the 2009 and 2010 harvest seasons. American ginseng is included on CITES1 Appendix II, which lists species “that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction [but] that may become so unless trade … is subject to strict regulation.”2 In producing this report, FWS complied with its responsibility under CITES, and the finding concludes that export of wild American ginseng from 19 specified range states is not detrimental to the survival of the species, so long as harvested plants are at least five years old. This conclusion thus continues the agency’s current policy of allowing export of roots collected from such plants and from the specified states.

The finding also identifies a number of future actions and recommendations “to improve the conservation and management of ginseng.” Many of the identified issues are in relation to working with various State agencies to develop consistent harvest regulations, so that requirements for harvest season, fruit ripeness, seed planting, and other factors will be standardized throughout the species’ range. The finding notes that it will be updated prior to the 2010 harvest season, and any such update should be assumed to include information on any progress made in regard to FWS’ recommendations.

The FWS finding includes data that was presented at an FWS meeting in February by AHPA President Michael McGuffin on the long-established harvester practice of planting ginseng seed even as plants are collected. McGuffin estimated that between six and 17 million ginseng seeds are planted annually in woodland settings. He compared that estimate to the average of 16 to 19 million wild ginseng plants harvested each year, while observing the need to account for the rate of germination of planted seeds. Expressing some discomfort with this practice, the finding states that FWS will “discuss with the States, USDA Forest Service, and industry the use of non-local and commercially grown seeds for replanting of ginseng in the wild.”

In its finding document FWS also acknowledges AHPA’s efforts to support good stewardship practices in the collection of wild ginseng. AHPA worked cooperatively with FWS and United Plant Savers (and in Ohio, with Roots of Appalachia Growers Association) in 2006 to create a brochure for each of the 19 ginseng range states to provide information on state regulations and input on best harvest practices. Information on the Good Stewardship Harvesting of Wild American Ginseng can be found at AHPA’s website:

FWS’ nondetriment finding for American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) for the 2009 and 2010 harvest seasons can be found online at

1 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora.

2 CITES Article II, paragraph 2.

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the national trade association and voice of the herbal products industry. AHPA is comprised of domestic and foreign companies doing business as growers, processors, manufacturers and marketers of herbs and herbal products, including foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and nonprescription drugs. Founded in 1982, AHPA’s mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. Website:

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