Tennessee Ginseng Law and Regulations
• No license is required to dig wild ginseng on private land in Tennessee, but the landowner’s permission must be obtained.
• A Ginseng Dealer Permit is required to buy ginseng harvested in Tennessee for resale or to transport across state lines.
• No ginseng may leave the state of Tennessee without an export certificate.
• The harvest season for wild ginseng in Tennessee is August 15 to December 31. The buying season is from August 15 to March 31.
• Tennessee state law prohibits the harvest of any wild ginseng plant for sale or export that has green berries or less than 3 prongs.
• Tennessee requires that seeds of collected wild ginseng be planted immediately in the approximate location in which plants are harvested.
• Most state lands are closed to harvesting ginseng, including all state parks, natural areas, and state forests, and nearly all wildlife management areas. Collecting ginseng on state lands that are closed to harvesting is illegal and carries penalties and fines.
• The Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation, Division of Natural Heritage, serves as the state’s ginseng coordinator. This office can be reached at (615) 532-0431 or at:
401 Church Street
• A permit is required to collect ginseng in Cherokee National Forest, which can be contacted at
(423) 476-9700 or via mail:
70-8-203 Dates of harvest season in Tennessee.
The harvest season for wild ginseng shall be from August 15 through December 31 inclusive of each year.
70-8-204 Prohibited activities in Tennessee.
(a) It is unlawful for any person to dig, harvest, collect or remove wild ginseng from any land for the purpose of sale or export, on any date not within the wild ginseng harvest season established be #70-8-203. (b) It is unlawful for any person to dig, harvest, collect or remove from any land, for the purpose of sale or export, any wild ginseng plant that has green berries or that has less than three (3) prongs. (c) It is unlawful for any person who has dug, harvested, collected, or removed wild ginseng from any land for the purpose of sale or export: (1) To remove the berries of the wild ginseng from the approximate location from which the wild ginseng was dug, harvested, collected, or removed; or (2) To fail, immediately after such digging, harvest, collection or removal, to plant the berries of the wild ginseng in the approximate location from which the wild ginseng was dug, harvested, collected, or removed. (d) It shall be unlawful to sell or offer for sale wild or cultivated ginseng that was harvested or collected from any state other than Tennessee unless such ginseng has been certified or otherwise approved for export be the state from which the ginseng was harvested, collected, or removed. A certificate shall accompany all wild and cultivated ginseng from other states showing that is has been certified and approved for export. (e) It shall be unlawful for any person, without permission of the landowner, to enter the property of the landowner and dig, harvest, collect, or remove wild or cultivated ginseng. This subsection shall not apply to any employee or contractor of the federal government or of the state of Tennessee or of any political subdivision of the state engaged in any type of planning, construction, or maintenance work upon any proposed or existing federal, state, county, or other public road or highway, or highway right-of-way, while performing such work in the course of his employment or contract work with the federal, state, or local government.
Any person violating the provisions of this part shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished be a fine not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250) and shall forfeit all ginseng harvested, collected, removed, or sold in violation of this part.