Ginseng expert coming to WNY; get info now on how to grow this native plant

ginseng class by Bob Beyfuss
Photo courtesy Cornell Cooperative Extension of Allegany County

by Connie Oswald Stofko

I always associated ginseng with Asia, but there is a variety, Panax quinquefolius, that is native to North America. Ginseng has been– and is still– widely used in herbal remedies.

For years, when people wanted ginseng, they could just dig it up in forests.

Unfortunately, over-harvesting has led to a decline in the wild population, so there are now regulations regarding wild ginseng. You can’t harvest from New York State land and you can’t harvest on private land without permission of the landowner. In addition, you can harvest only between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30.

But you can grow ginseng. Wild ginseng is considered more valuable than cultivated ginseng, and there is a way to grow it that simulates how it grows in the wild.

Learn more from ginseng expert Bob Beyfuss during a program from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21 at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Allegany County, 5435A County Road 48, Belmont.

This program is designed to teach participants how to get started growing American ginseng on forested land in Western New York. This class will begin by teaching you how to assess a forested site for suitability for growing wild-simulated ginseng. The land could be property you own, but some people lease property to grow ginseng. Beyfuss will give a classroom presentation followed by a woods walk.

The cost for the class is $25 per person.

You must pre-register because space is limited. The check payable to CCE Allegany County should be mailed to 5435A County Rd 48 Belmont, NY 14813.

For more information, contact Lynn Bliven 585-268-7644, ext. 18 or

Participants will receive a copy of the newly revised version of The Practical Guide to Growing Ginseng by Bob Beyfuss; you can see an online version here.

Beyfuss is retired from Cornell Cooperative Extension in Greene County. He had served as the New York State specialist for American Ginseng Production for Cornell University Cooperative Extension before retiring.

He has been honing his knowledge on ginseng since he did his master’s thesis on the topic. His publications include “American Ginseng Production in NY State;”  “Ginseng Production in Woodlots” and “The Economics of Woodland Ginseng Production”, both published by the USDA National Agroforestry Center; “Growing Gourmet Mushrooms from A to Z;” “Companion Planting,” and several other fact sheets regarding ginseng, organic gardening and mushroom growing in forested environments.

Find more helpful information about growing ginseng here. 

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