a wild simulated ginseng root

Demand for ginseng is creating a ‘wild west’ in Appalachia

With poachers cashing in on the Chinese appetite for American ginseng, growers are arming up.

Chinese demand for wild American ginseng—believed to help with everything from fatigue and depression to impotence—is so great that wildlife managers worry that the valuable herb could be on a path toward extinction. In Appalachia, the gnarly roots grow among such woodland plants as bloodroot, Solomon’s seal, Jack-in-the pulpit, maidenhair ferns, and mosses.

Photograph by Greg Kahn, National Geographic

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