This is sort of a hotbed topic in ginseng circles. Most of the PhDs involved in ginseng genetic research suggest that if localized ginseng populations outcross to cultivated strains, the result will be the breaking up of evolved specific local tolerances (the gnome). Basically all doom and gloom.
However, there is research that suggests the largest dangers to wild ginseng is (in no particular order here) loss of habitat, whitetail deer, and lack of genetic diversity through generations of being isolated and consistent selfing.
Consider though, that the most genetic diversity is found in commercial fields -not in the woods. The ginseng in Wisconsin and Ontario came from the woods originally. I know others disagree, but in my own personal experience, cultivated seed planted in the woods with no growth enhancers is actually wild /wild simulated root. It is indistinguishable in every way. The best example I can give of the concept is domestic pigs. In only one maybe two generations they revert to being completely feral.
While most of the researchers are focusing on the doom and gloom possibilities, there is another -and just as likely- side of the story. You see, when most plants and animals outcross they pick up a certain degree of enhanced growth called hybrid vigor. This can be significant. But you know what, they might also pick up some elements of genetic resistance (if there really even is such a thing in ginseng at all).
And, in this PhD’s opinion….I would rather have a lot of ginseng growing and producing seed and new generations of plants than have little or no ginseng at all. The idea of ‘polluting’ natural stands is a non issue in my mind and in my experience.
~Original post at Growing Ginseng: A Beginner’s Group facebook page as part of a conversation there.