Monday, July 7, 2014

No, they won't tell you where the ginseng is growing

In Pennsylvania a few plant species - valuable and, in some cases, at risk of extinction -
are in a sort of plant "witness protection program," their identities and precise locations
kept secret as poachers hunt them for sale on the black market.

The Associated Press reports that, across the state, the plants are stolen for foreign markets, high-end restaurants or backyard gardens.

Harvested ginseng in Germany (Wikipedia photo)
"When there's something rare or special in a place, someone, unfortunately, is going to try and take it," said Donald Schwartz, Bedford County's planning director.
In Bedford's current Natural Heritage Inventory, which land developers follow for permitting, at least eight locations feature secret species. The county isn't alone: Across the state, government agencies avoid publishing the locations of sought-after plants like ginseng and rare orchids.

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