The hunt for wild ginseng in Appalachia’s semilegal and highly lucrative market

Wild American ginseng roots can be worth hundreds of dollars per pound, thanks to hungry markets in Asia where the plant has been prized for its healing powers since ancient times.

It’s native to Appalachia, where locals have been “hunting” it for generations, and operating in the shadows. But when prices skyrocketed to $1,300 a pound in 2013, a lot more people started to get interested, and started harvesting the roots before they were ready — putting the native population at risk.

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