Ridge Runner Trading Company President Tony Hayes passed away July 2nd, 2020

AHPA did a great job informing the herbal community of our great loss. Please know Tony’s wife Sandy Hayes and their children Josh Hayes and Casey Vincent are continuing to operate  Ridge Runner Trading Company as they have all been heavily involved in the business since conception and can be contacted for your ongoing vendor and customer needs at (828)-264-3615. Thank you and God Bless the soul of Tony Hayes, a great man who positively impacted so many.


Product of the Month- Slippery Elm


Image result for slippery elm

Ulmus rubra

        Slippery Elm bark is known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential. Upon contact with water, the inner bark yields a thick gel that can be used as an ointment or salve to treat urinary tract inflammation and has been known to be applied topically for cold sores or other open wounds. Most commonly however the mucilaginous property of slippery elm has been used in traditional medicine to treat conditions such as sore throat and can be found in many lozenges and  cough syrups.

Thayers Slippery Elm Lozenges Cherry 42 Lozenges


  • Sore throat

  • Cough

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

  • Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Diarrhea

  • Wounds, burns, boils, psoriasis, and other skin conditions (external)

How to Identify Slipper Elm for Harvesting

A picture is worth 1,000 words but a video is worth 100,000 words!

Check out these YouTube videos to know more about the Slippery Elm tree.

Part 1.- Identification

Part 2. – Usage



Ridge Runner Welcomes New Employee!

Ridge Runner Trading is pleased to announce the recent hire of Noah Watson of Fleetwood, NC. Noah is a graduate of Watauga High School where he was a recipient of both the Boone Kiwanis Scholarship and the William R. Mast Jr. Memorial Scholarship. While working as a full time warehouse employee for Ridge Runner, Noah is also currently pursuing a degree in law enforcement from Caldwell Community College. Noah has a background in natural botanicals and has been harvesting wild ginseng for many years now. Pictured is Noah Watson (right) with Watauga County extension agent Jim Hamilton in a local ginseng patch last summer, photo credit to NC State University. Welcome Noah, we are glad to have you on board our team!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, tree, plant, outdoor and nature

Keeping Ginseng Diggers & Buyers Honest

Checkout this fascinating article in the Smoky Mountain News regarding the use of dye to protect against ginseng poachers.




Ridge Runner Trading is now certified organic!

Congratulations Ridge Runner Trading Co. Inc. on becoming Oregon Tilth Certified Organic as of March 2016! Checkout the “Products” page to see what organic ingredients are available for purchase.

Plant of the Month

Aletris farinosa


This white flowering perennial is otherwise known commonly as Stargrass, Unicron Root, and Colic-Root. Aletris has a white flower that blooms May to August and has a leafless stem. Aletris is found in both dry and moist peat or sand.  It also aids in digestion, and has both anti-inflammatory and estrogenic properties.

Congrats to Ridge Runner’s CEO Tony Hayes for being included on the AHPA American Ginseng Advisory Panel

AHPA-ERB Foundation | Engredea News & Analysis-

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) Foundation for Education and Research on Botanicals (the AHPA-ERB Foundation) announced the formation of the American Ginseng Advisory Panel, representing the interests of researchers, educators, and harvesters. The Advisory Panel was established to provide expertise on the development and maintenance of regional and national collections of plant material that will preserve the genetic diversity of wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius).

A germplasm collection, defined as the long-term storage of hereditary plant material (i.e. seed) does not currently exist for American ginseng in the United States. As demand for ginseng continues, conservation through propagation becomes an important consideration and a valuable economic opportunity for cultivators of “woodsgrown” and “wild-simulated” American ginseng. Germplasm collections ensure the genetic variation of a plant species and also provide genetic resources for future research and in-situ conservation opportunities.

Development of a national American ginseng germplasm collection is now in a preliminary planning stage under the direction of Dr. Joe-Ann McCoy at the North Carolina Arboretum. The national program will entail the identification, collection, and propagation of a significant number of genetically diverse populations of Panax quinquefolius sustainably collected from multiple locations within its native range in the United States. Dr. McCoy is also initiating a regional American ginseng germplasm collection for western North Carolina.

“Starting with a regional germplasm collection will provide a template for the broader project that encompasses the wide geographic range of this plant,” said Dr. McCoy. “The AHPA ERB Foundation’s foresight and dedication to the long-term conservation of this precious species will help preserve the native populations for future generations.”

American ginseng is one of the most valuable North American wild-crafted non-timber plants and is traded principally in international markets. Primarily found in the Appalachian region in the United States, native populations are subject to numerous pressures, including harvesting (if sustainable practices are not utilized), loss of habitat due to land development and mining, and deer browsing.

The Advisory Panel will also provide guidance on obtaining financial support and publication of research and other data generated during establishment of the collections. The Advisory Panel is composed of the following members:

  • Eric Burkhart, Ph.D., Program Director, Plant Science, Pennsylvania State University
  • Lyle Craker, Ph.D., Professor, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Jennifer Cruse-Sanders, Ph.D., VP for Science and Conservation, Atlanta Botanical Garden
  • Tony Hayes, President, Ridge Runner Trading Company
  • Gary Kauffman, Botanist/Ecologist, U.S Forest Service
  • Susan Leopold, Ph.D., Executive Director, United Plant Savers
  • Allen Lockard, President, American Botanicals
  • Joe-Ann McCoy, Ph.D., Director, North Carolina Arboretum Germplasm Repository
  • James McGraw, Ph.D., Professor, West Virginia University
  • Michael McGuffin, President, American Herbal Products Association

In addition, Patricia Ford (Botanist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)) will serve as a liaison to the Advisory Panel representing the USFWS. American ginseng is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an international agreement between countries to ensure that international trade in certain plants and animals does not threaten their survival in the wild. The USFWS regulates the export of American ginseng through the issuance of CITES permits to ensure that roots are legally and sustainably harvested.

“The harvest pressure on wild American ginseng and the disappearance of more and more of its natural habitat creates a risk of the loss of the genetic diversity critical for the long-term health of the species,” said U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Creating a seed bank for ginseng is vital to ensure the continued sustainability of this species, which plays an important role in the economy and culture of communities throughout the United States.”

Boone Man Becomes First To Receive Felony for Poaching Ginseng on Private Property in North Carolina

High Country Press Article

By: Jesse Wood

Dec. 1, 2014.  “On Monday, a Boone man was convicted of a felony for poaching ginseng, and the agricultural community is applauding the felony conviction, which they say is the first of its kind for an offense on private property in North Carolina.


David E. Presnell of 228 Hampton Trailer Circle pled guilty yesterday to stealing ginseng from High Country Ginseng, a commercial producer of the wild simulated root owned by Travis Cornett and partners.

When Presnell was illegally ‘sanging in August 2013, the price of the root was fetching up to $1,200 per pound.

Last year, Presnell trespassed on land featuring one of the ginseng patches of High Country Ginseng. A friend of Cornett’s saw Presnell exiting the ginseng patch and told Cornett, who then took a Weed Eater to the tops of the plants, so the ginseng wouldn’t be easily identifiable.

Days later, Presnell came back to the same patch, and this time Cornett was around to catch him red-handed. Deputies with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office found a couple pounds of ginseng in Presnell’s home and returned it to Cornett. Presnell’s 11- to 23-month jail sentence was suspended to 30-months probation by Judge Gary Gavenus with the condition that Presnell submit to a DNA sample to be taken. Presnell has a prior record. He was convicted of first-degree murder in 1983 and released from prison in 2007.

Cornett said that while he’s had other people poach ginseng roots off of his farms, Presnell was the first person he caught in the action.

“I wouldn’t have prosecuted him unless he came back twice,” Cornett said. “I just wanted to get the word out that you will get in trouble.”


Both Cornett and Watauga County Cooperative Extension Director Jim Hamilton applauded the conviction. After conferring with colleagues, Hamilton said that this is the first felony conviction of ginseng poaching on private land in North Carolina and possibly in the surrounding region.

Jim Corbin with the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services added that these cases have generally been tried as misdemeanor trespassing.

Hamilton called this a “great victory for the commercial ginseng industry” that sets a legal precedent that you will get in trouble if you harvest another person’s ginseng crop that is obviously being cultivated.

Hamilton said he works with about eight ginseng producers in the county and poaching is the number one risk in planting ginseng. At workshops, Hamilton has said in the past that he has told potential growers that there is only so much you can do: put up cameras and no trespassing signs. Now Hamilton is hoping the threat of a felony conviction will deter poachers in the future.

Both Cornett, who has 20 to 30 acres of ginseng on about 10 farms in different locations in the county, and Hamilton were among a small group in the local agricultural community that met with District Attorney Seth Banks about a month ago to discuss the impact of ginseng poaching.

Hamilton said that nearly a dozen growers planted about 1,000 pounds of ginseng seed this fall in the hopes that demand for the root continues to grow. These growers met with Banks to let him know that if all of these plants are successfully cultivated then this is going to have a huge impact on the local economy once the plants are mature, dug up, dried and sold.

Both Corbin and Hamilton also mentioned that the recent reality TV shows such as Filthy Riches, Smoky Mountain Money and Appalachian Outlaws that depict ginseng hunting in the Appalachian Mountains have harmed the crop.

Hamilton said that the show has sparked interest into ginseng because people think they can get rich quick digging up ginseng. However, it takes about seven years for a plant to mature, and dried roots fetch more than quadruple the price of fresh roots.

“I really think the popularity of these shows has really hurt the plant because folks are digging up smaller plants,” Hamilton said.”

NC man sentenced for ginseng poaching in the Smokies

From Asheville Citizen-Times

“A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a repeat American ginseng poacher to more than five months in jail for the illegal possession or harvesting of the plant, the Department of Justice announced.

Billy Joe Hurley, 46, of Bryson City, admitted to illegally possessing 83 American ginseng roots he dug from areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, according to court documents and sentencing hearing statements Thursday. National Park Service employees recovered the viable roots to replant them but estimate that, at best, 50 percent of them are likely to survive.

Hurley pleaded guilty to the poaching charge, his fourth such conviction, according to Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

“Illegally harvesting American ginseng from federally protected land areas poses a serious danger to a plant that is part of our national heritage,” Tompkins said in a statement. “It is also a crime, and my office will continue to work closely with National Park Service rangers to prosecute poachers who profit from the illegal harvesting and sale of this endangered national resource.”

The wild roots of American ginseng are a highly-prized tonic, particularly in Asian markets. A Park Service botanist testified Thursday that the American ginseng species is under severe pressure from poachers in the Smokies and may not be sustainable if it continues to be harvested illegally. A special agent of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also testified that financial gain is likely to continue to drive poachers; fresh ginseng can bring up to $200 per pound on the black market.

“Ginseng is a precious resource, a difficult plant to grow, and one that we have been losing to illegal and unsustainable harvests as the forests are being robbed of younger and younger plants,” said Cindy MacLeod, acting superintendent of the Smokies.

Ginseng was recently placed on the North Carolina watch list for plants in peril because of exploitation, said Steve Kloster, acting chief ranger of the Smokies. Each year law enforcement rangers seize between 500 and 1,000 illegally poached ginseng roots, according to authorities.

The Smokies are the largest fully protected reserve known for wild ginseng, but the once abundant plant has been significantly reduced to isolated patches because of overharvesting.

In 2011, Hurley was sentenced to 75 days in jail and fined $5,540 for possessing 554 wild ginseng roots. Later that year, he was arrested with 187 ginseng roots. He had digging tools, newspaper articles on ginseng poaching and a list of places to harvest in the national park. He was sentenced to 120 days in jail.

Hurley is slated to spend five months and 15 days in jail with this latest guilty plea.

“We are hopeful that this conviction will serve as a deterrent to others considering illegally taking this special resource,” Kloster said.

In a separate case, a Tennessee man was sentenced to 80 days in prison earlier this month and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. Christopher Ian Jacobson, 31, pleaded guilty to the illegal possession of 298 roots of ginseng.

Report illegal harvesting

Call the Law Enforcement Desk of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 865-436-1230 to report illegal harvesting activities of American ginseng within the Smokies.”

Romando Dixson, Asheville Citizen-Times

Forest Service ginseng permits stay at reduced level

From Asheville Citizen-Times

Melissa Fryar is rather particular about the precious ginseng roots she will purchase as the health and beauty care manager at French Broad Food Co-op.

That means she accepts no ginseng that walks in, freshly dug, from a seller right off the street. And she especially wouldn’t buy roots in the spring, the time of year when ginseng needs to remain in the ground to continue ripening…

Read more…