Disjunct Medicine: A History of the (Two) Mayapple(s)


by Sasha M. White As early as 1731 Mark Catesby described the medicinal use of American mayapple root in his Natural History of the Carolinas . Image courtesy of the Lloyd Library & Museum.When Europeans came to North America, the mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), also called mandrake, raccoon berry or wild lemon, was one of the …

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American Ginseng Summit

ginseng summit

by Glynis Board, West Virginia Public Radio Attendees of The American Ginseng SummitUnited Plant Savers was honored to host the 2014 American Ginseng Summit at our Goldenseal Botanical Sanctuary in Rutland, OH where we discussed safe-guarding wild populations of American ginseng, as well as protecting the American ginseng export industry and creating a domestic market. …

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Pirates for the Planet


by UpS Executive Director, Susan Leopold

The “At-Risk” Tool made its published debut in 2014 culminating in years of work by many in the UpS community.1 The visionaries of the “At-Risk” tool are former UpS Board Member Kelly Kindscher of the University of Kansas and Lisa Castle, the 2014 Medicinal Plant Conservation Award recipient, of Southwestern Oklahoma State University. The format of the assessment tool was in part patterned after the Blue Oceans Group’s Seafood Mini Guides.2 Similar to plants’ susceptibility to over- harvesting, wild caught seafood is also in deep decline from over-fishing. Vulnerability of species that are wild and in demand depends on many different factors, from intrinsic life history traits to market forces. Based on literature, logic, and discussions with conservation practitioners, five main factors that influence a species’ vulnerability to overharvest were determined: life history, effect of harvest on individual plants, population size, habitat, and demand.3 These five categories are the framework for the tool, and in each section a series of questions leads to a numerical answer, and the total scores then rate a species. The higher the number, the more vulnerable the species is to over-harvesting. In figure one you can see a graph of all the at-risk and to-watch plants that have been reviewed, which illustrates the numerical risk and the colors indicate scores within each of the five main factors.

atriskgraphFigure one: See www.unitedplantsavers.org for all scoring data, assessment tool, and Journal article


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The Two Sides of Chaga


by Robert Dale Rogers Chaga ( Inonotus obliquus )Over the past decade, herbalists have increasingly embraced the use of medicinal mushrooms in clinical practice. These members of the Fungi Kingdom offer many health benefits, and there remains much to be learned about them. Some mushrooms, such as reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), turkey tail (Trametes versicolor), and …

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Framing a Domestic Market for American Ginseng: A Conversation

Erika Ginseng

by Erika Galentin “…it may also be true that ginseng gains resilience [as a species] by attracting different elements of human society–not just people involved in medicine, but also in culture and commerce.” David A. Taylor, Ginseng, the Devine Root American ginseng ( Panax quinquefolius ) berriesEvidenced by the United Plant Savers’ Ginseng Summit of …

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Restoration of the Heart, Lessons from the All Mighty Shorea faguetiana Tree


by Susan Leopold, PhD Tamara Negara Climbing the Koompasia excelsNearly twenty-one years had passed since I had cast my wish at Kanya kamayi into the visual well of both the sun setting and moon rising at the tip of southern India. The next place I landed after my pilgrimage travel adventure was Malaysia. Back then …

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Slippery Elm in the Herbal Marketplace – Past, Present & Future

Ulmus rubra Oct2008a

Slipping Away? Slippery Elm in the Herbal Marketplace – Past, Present & Future by Eric P. Burkhart, PhD Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra Muhl.) is one of the most well-known, and widely used, medicinal tree barks native to the United States. It is currently included on the United Plant Savers “At-Risk” List due to concerns over …

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Tonnage Surveys of Select North American Wild-Harvested Plants, 2006–2010

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Tonnage Surveys of Select North American  Wild-Harvested Plants, 2006–2010 This report presents the findings of surveys conducted by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) to quantify an nual harvests of certain North American herbs in commerce. The specific focus of thes e surveys was on the h arvests in each of the five years from …

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