Alabama Ginseng hunting is tradition that has been passed from generation to generation. In the deep hollers and along the northwest facing slopes of Alabama lies a valued plant that keeps ginseng hunters in the woods throughout fall in hopes finding big patches of the valued herb. Hunting beautiful Alabama ginseng is more than an adventure but a way of life in Appalachia.
Alabama is one of the states that you can find American Wild Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius). For over 30 years I have been digging ginseng in foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Alabama. Some years have been better than others and many locations that once were thriving with ginseng have now fallen victim to clear-cutting and deforestation.
Where to find ginseng in Alabama?
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is an plant (herb) that offers a variety of health benefits and is found on the north-facing slopes along the mountains and ridges in Northeast Alabama. Ginseng is found throughout moist deciduous forests of eastern North America. Ginseng enjoys a specific habitat with moist loamy soil, the right trees and deep shade. I tend to find Alabama Seng in hardwoods near draining below rock ledges, areas where moister will not stand but run off.
There are 19 states in the US that have a regulated wild ginseng harvest season
(Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin)
Currently the digging season runs from September 1 to December 13 and the selling season runs from September 15 to March 31.
I started digging ginseng with my dad when I was young teenager and have hiked many of the ridges and hills along northeast Alabama searching for the green gold (old-timers call it Seng). As ginseng prices have risen up over the years it seems that it is harder and harder to find good patches of ginseng.
2018 has been a good year despite how dry the woods have been. I have been lucky for my dad to share some good locations and have managed to find a good patch on lookout mountain. There is more to digging Ginseng than just going in the woods searching for the plant. Once you enter the woods you will find an awesome connection to nature and your adrenaline will kick at the thought of seeing a big rattlesnake or even finding a big patch.
Hunting Alabama wild ginseng is one of my favorite past-times and the reward has increased steadily through my lifetime. Not only do you get to see a different side of life but you get the opportunity to see all kinds of plants and animals, including rattlesnakes, deer, wild boar, scorpions, as well as all kinds of mushrooms.
Me and dad has also run across old Indian graves, deep mining shafts, old moonshine stills, and other strange things in the woods. We once had a large group of wild boar rip across the top of the mountain in Tellico Plains, Tn., an experience that made my hair stand straight up. Digging wild ginseng is more than a hunt but it is an awesome adventure.
Some may see hunting and digging wild ginseng as an old timer’s past-time, but today it is gaining traction as the prices have risen to over $800 in the past years and the current 2018 Alabama wild ginseng price being $550.
Everyone dreams of finding a huge patch of ginseng and digging for days or even weeks. The kind of patch of Seng that could pay for a new car or pay for that dream vacation. Some just love the adventure of the hunt, or want to find that hundred-year-old granddaddy root. I just love being in the woods on the hunt for the next plant.
One thing for sure, once you get ginseng fever, you will always have it and you can’t wait till next hunting season.
Some good sources about Alabama Ginseng
- Alabama Ginseng Collector Permit
- Alabama Ginseng Map
- Alabama Ginseng Law
- Ginseng Collection Special Permits for National Forests in Alabama
where to sell ginseng in Alabama