HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — Maryland ginseng hunters are facing the new season with a prohibition on digging the valuable root on state land.

The season opened Sunday for those with state licenses.

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Department of Natural Resources biologist Jonathan McKnight says a state-funded study last year found that the root with supposed medicinal properties has nearly disappeared from Maryland except in the far western mountains.

The DNR announced the ban in April. People can still harvest wild ginseng on private land.

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At least 15 states prohibit wild ginseng hunting altogether. McKnight says none of the states surrounding Maryland allows ginseng hunting on state land.

Wild American ginseng is especially prized in Asia for its supposedly calming effect. A pound of high-quality root can bring more than $1,000.

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