State investigation leads to the arrest of a Carroll County ginseng dealer

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MALVERN, Ohio — Former ginseng dealer David Paulette, 62, of Malvern, Ohio, has been convicted on six counts of failure to keep accurate records as required by state law, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife.

Prosecution

Paulette was fined $6,000 plus court costs and his dealer license has been revoked.

As a result of the revocation, Paulette cannot acquire, sell or possess ginseng for a 30-year period. Paulette also received a three-year suspended jail sentence pending no further violations and must report to a probation officer for the next two years.

Additionally, nearly 70 pounds of ginseng will be forfeited to the state.

To date, more than 60 violations of Ohio law have been identified with more than 30 individuals involved. The investigation continues with additional charges and suspects expected.

Charges may include digging ginseng without landowner permission, collecting or possession of ginseng during the closed season, failure to maintain accurate records, and failure to certify ginseng prior to export.

Ohio certifies about 3,000 pounds of ginseng for export annually. There are more than 40 licensed ginseng dealers in the state with an estimated 2,000-4,000 diggers. The number of diggers varies annually depending on market conditions.

“Wild ginseng is a highly sought medicinal plant,” said Doug Miller, Division of Wildlife’s law enforcement supervisor in northeast Ohio. “Ohio ginseng can sell for a few hundred dollars a pound to as high as $1,000 per pound, like in 2007.”

Green gold

Also called “Ohio’s green gold,” American ginseng is a slow-growing perennial herb. It reaches a typical height of 8 to 15 inches. Ginseng prefers mature woodlands, frequently on slopes, where it favors rich soil and dense shade.

Plant specifics

American ginseng occurs from Quebec, Canada, west to Minnesota and south to Georgia and Oklahoma. Plants produce flowers during June and July. These flowers develop into green fruits.

In August and September, the fruit ripens into bright crimson berries. Each berry contains two to three seeds, and germination takes place in 18-22 months.

Seedlings normally appear in May and during their first year have only one small leaf comprised of three leaflets. During the second growing season, the plant will develop a central stem with one compound leaf comprised of three to four leaflets. With each growing season, the plants will continue to add leaves and leaflets.

The size of the plant, number of leaves and number of flowers increases with the age of the plant. The development of additional leaves and flowers is not annual. The rate of growth is controlled by soil conditions, available light, seasonal weather variations and damage by humans and animals

The life expectancy of ginseng is uncertain and estimated to be 20-75 years.

Learn more about Ohio’s ginseng laws at www.wildohio.com and click on “Hunting Regulations.”

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