How a native plant ended up on reality TV, and why it’s at risk
In one of television’s more bizarre recent offerings, the History Channel show “Appalachian Outlaws” follows a band of West Virginians as they hunt rugged forests for American ginseng, a medicinal root worth hundreds of dollars per pound. The show has high stakes: These men poach on federal lands, risking fines and jail time, and guard private patches with shotguns and homemade land mines. Most of them are out of work, out of savings and worried about paying for food and heat. Ginseng gives them a way to get by.