Last month, two men were convicted of poaching ginseng from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These men illegally harvested 11 pounds of roots, some of which were 30 to 40 years old. Although fined $2500 and $5500 and sentenced to jail time, the fine is lower than the roots would have yielded in a legal trade market, either domestic or international.
Come on, folks. Fines need to be higher than the market yield if they’re going to provide any serious deterrent to poachers, and we need to be good conservators of our rare native plants.
Offenders Get Jail Time for Ginseng Poaching and Theft – Great Smoky Mountains National Park U.S. National Park Service.
I never realised that ginseng grew wild. I always imagined that it was farmed. There are always people out there digging up native flora for profit or because they selfishly want them in their own garden. But then so did the great plant hunters of the past who brought us all our garden plants from far flung places of the globe. They just helped themselves and never saw it as theft.
My dear little grandmother used to come back from holidays in Switzerland with her wash bag stuffed with rare alpines. Everyone did it. I hope things are changing now. People realise the importance of conservation. But we have a long way to go.
As Chloris mentions, lots of gardeners take a bit of another’s garden, with or without permission. This can be a problem if a disease or invasive insect is brought along with it, so we all have to be aware of the dangers of poaching plants, the necessity for conservation. Substantial fines should be a deterrent to those who poach for profit. I applaud the Forest Rangers.