Kentucky Ginseng Law and Regulations
• No permit is required to harvest wild ginseng on private land in the state of Kentucky
• A certificate of registration as a Kentucky Ginseng Dealer must be obtained by anyone who buys ginseng in the state for resale or who sells ginseng in interstate commerce.
• The harvest season for wild ginseng in Kentucky is from August 15 to December 1.
• Kentucky state law requires all harvested ginseng plants to be at least 5 years old and to have at least 3 prongs.
• Kentucky requires that seeds adhering to harvested wild ginseng be planted within 50 feet of the location of the plant, “with no tool used other than the finger.”
• The Kentucky Department of Agriculture, serves as the state’s ginseng coordinator. This office can be reached at
(502) 564-0290 or:
100 Fair Oaks Lane, 5th floor
• A permit is required to collect ginseng in Daniel Boone National Forest. Contact the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Winchester, KY at
(859) 745-3100, or any of the four district offices for more information:
Cumberland District, Morehead, KY:
London District, London, KY:
Stearns District, Whitley City, KY:
Red Bird District, Big Creek, KY:
Department to administer program for wild American ginseng.
The department shall administer a program for wild American ginseng in Kentucky which provides a framework, including a limited harvesting season, in which wild American ginseng shall be eligible for exportation in compliance with federal requirements. The department shall promulgate regulations to carry out this program and cooperate with and enter into agreements with any other agency of this state, any other state, or the federal government to carry out this program. Any regulation promulgated under this section shall be no more restrictive than minimum federal requirements.
KRS 246.660 NECESSITY, FUNCTION, AND CONFORMITY: Authorized the Department of Agriculture to adopt rules and administrative regulations relating to the administration of a program for Wild American Ginseng. This administrative regulation sets forth general provisions which apply in this chapter with regard to definitions, harvest season, and cooperative agreements.
Section 1. (1) "Ginseng Dealer" means any person engaged in the business of buying ginseng roots from ginseng collectors, ginseng cultivators, and other ginseng dealers for resale to ginseng exporters or to other ginseng dealers or any person who sells ginseng in any form in interstate commerce.
(2) "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Agriculture.
(3) "Department" unless otherwise specified means the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
(4) "State" means the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Section 2. Registration. (1) No person shall be a ginseng dealer without first obtaining a certificate of registration issued by the department. No registration shall be renewed until the ginseng dealer has met all requirements of recordkeeping and reporting as required by the department.
(2) Certificates of registration will be issued for a period of one (1) year, and will expire on the 30th day of April each year.
(3) Completed applications for certification of registration, issued by the department, must be returned prior to June 30th of each year.
Section 3. Recordkeeping. (1) All ginseng dealers shall keep records, on forms furnished by the department, of all purchases and sales of ginseng. These records will include month purchased, month dug, county where dug, weight of purchase, and signature and address of digger or seller. Ginseng dealers shall also keep records of purchases from other dealers. These records shall include the month each purchase from a dealer is made, the weight of purchase, and the signature and registration number of the dealer from whom the purchase is made. All purchase records shall be submitted to the department on a monthly basis. No ginseng shall be certified until the purchase records are recorded by the department. (2) Retention. All persons required to maintain records under this section shall retain the records for a period of three (3) years.
(3) Availability. Records required under this section shall be made available to the department upon request.
Section 4. Annual Report. All ginseng dealers will file an annual report with the department by April 30th. The annual report shall include the listing of each purchase and sale of ginseng made by the dealer since July 1 the previous year.
Section 5. All ginseng dealers will file a report with the department at least every calendar-year quarter if the dealer has any commerce in ginseng originating from any state other than Kentucky. The report must be sent within fifteen (15) days of the end of any calendar-year quarter and shall list each purchase and sale of out-of-state ginseng made by the dealer during that quarter.
Section 6. Harvest Season. Beginning September 1, 1988 and each year thereafter, wild ginseng will only be dug between August 15th and December 1st of each year. Any seeds adhering to a plant taken during the season shall be planted within fifty (50) feet of the location of the plant with no tool used other than the finger.
Section 7. All sales of ginseng by dealers shall be certified for sale during the ginseng selling season beginning September 1st of each year and extending until March 31st of the following year.
Section 8. All ginseng unsold by March 31st of the year after harvest must be weighed by the department and the dealer given a weight receipt. Any future export certification of this stock will only be issued against the weight receipt.
Section 9. (1) All ginseng dealers holding a certificate of registration hereunder must obtain a certificate of legal taking issued by the department after inspection by an official of the department identifying the origin, year of taking, and weight of any shipment of ginseng to a destination outside the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The certificate shall also state whether the ginseng is Wild American Ginseng or whether the ginseng has been cultivated or propagated by a grower. Such certification shall be issued to the dealer on triplicate forms issued by the department. A copy of such certification must be enclosed with the shipment subject of the certification. A copy of such certificate shall be retained for a minimum of three (3) years by the licensed ginseng dealer and a copy of the certificate shall be retained by the certifying agent of the department and submitted in accordance with internal procedures of the department. (2) At the time of issuance of the certificate, the department official shall receive from the ginseng dealer copies of all purchase records covering the amount of ginseng certified. Records of ginseng purchased from other dealers shall be recorded with the department prior to a certificate being issued.
Section 10. No ginseng dug outside the borders of Kentucky which is uncertified in its state of origin shall be allowed to enter Kentucky.
Section 11. (1) Any ginseng which is obtained in contravention of laws for the protection of the species or in violation of any other law shall not be purchased, sold, shipped, or transported within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. (2) The Kentucky Department of Agriculture may enforce the provisions of Section 11 of this administrative regulation herein as provided in KRS 260.030. (9 Ky.R. 292; Am. 572; 917; eff. 1-6-83; 13 Ky.R. 1713; 14 Ky.R. 431; eff. 8-5-87; 18 Ky.R. 743; 1840; eff. 11-26-91.)