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Man Finds Whopping 1-Pound Ginseng Root | Print |  E-mail

posted 12:23 am Wed September 12, 2007 - KITZMILLER, Md.

A nearly one-pound wild ginseng root found in western Maryland is a rarity that could be worth thousands of dollars, according to a local dealer and market reports. The lumpy tan root with multiple twisted arms was the biggest Roger Welch has found in 45 years of ginseng hunting. "Every time I go out to dig for roots, I hope it's a big one." Welch, 67, of Kitzmiller, told the Cumberland Times-News Friday. "This one, all the dealers said they'd never seen one this size. Only one had even heard of one that big." The root weighed just under 16 ounces. Welch said it usually takes 40 to 60 average-sized roots to make a pound.

Prices for dried wild roots - which weigh about one-third as much as fresh roots - are over $400 a pound and could reach $600 this season, said Larry Harding of Harding's Ginseng Farm, which cultivates ginseng near Friendsville.

 An unusual root like Welch's could fetch a premium because ginseng's purported healthful properties are believed to increase with the plant's age, Harding said. He estimated Welch's root is 100 years old.

"It is an unusual find," Harding said. "You just don't run across roots of that size."

He likened Welch's discovery to finding gold.

In 2005, a set of six wild ginseng roots up to 110 years old brought nearly $120,000 at an auction in Seoul, South Korea, the Yonhap news agency reported. The buyers were brothers who planned to use the ginseng to help heal their mother's ailing knees.

Ginseng is also believed to energy-boosting and stimulating effects.

Welch said he hunts ginseng as a hobby and usually gives any money he earns to his wife as a Christmas gift.

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