Preserving biological diversity isn’t the only reason for protecting endangered plant species—in some cases, its good for our health, too.
United Plant Savers emerged in the 1990s, primarily in response to the depletion of naturally occurring supplies of popular medicinal herbs, explains Executive Director Lynda LeMole. Until that time, most of them were harvested by hand, in a process known as “wild-crafting.”
While herbal medicine is most commonly associated with the orient, eastern practitioners have long had a keen appreciation for certain medicinal plants from North America, especially American Ginseng, seen being harvested at left.
Commercial cultivation of many medicinal herbs is complicated by the challenges in replicating their natural growing conditions, particularly for those, like American Ginseng, that are found on the forest floor. Even here in Sonoma County, where conditions favor a wide range of crops, many sensitive herbs will not thrive. That's another factor complicating the preservation of the "at risk" herbs on the list below.
United Plant Savers “At-Risk” List
- American Ginseng - Panax quinquefolius
- Black Cohosh - Actaea racemosa (Cimicifuga)
- Bloodroot - Sanguinaria canadensis
- Blue Cohosh - Caulophyllum thalictroides
- Echinacea - Echinacea spp.
- Eyebright - Euphrasia spp.
- False Unicorn Root - Chamaelirium luteumGoldenseal - Hydrastis canadensis
- Lady’s Slipper Orchid - Cypripedium spp.
- Lomatium - Lomatium dissectum
- Osha - Ligusticum porteri, L. spp.
- Peyote - Lophophora williamsii
- Slippery Elm - Ulmus rubra
- Sundew - Drosera spp.
- Trillium, Beth Root -Trillium spp.
- True Unicorn - Aletris farinosa
- Venus’ Fly Trap - Dionaea muscipula
- Virginina Snakeroot - Aristolochia serpentaria
- Wild Yam - Dioscorea villosa, D. spp.
Lynda LeMole, Executive Director of United Plant Savers, will be the featured speaker tonight at the Science Buzz Café in their new home at the Youth Annex adjacent to the Sebastopol Community Center, at 7 pm.