In the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity released a report in March of 2008 entitled Medicinal Plants at Risk. In this publication, Native Plant Conservation Campaign Director Emily Roberson catalogs numerous ethnobotanical plants that are native to North America and explains the threats that are challenging these plants’ very survival. Join us as we reflect on some of the points from this list of ethnobotanical plants, and think about actions you might be able to take in your location.
Why Are Native Herbs at Risk?
There are several reasons that ethnobotanical plants are under threat in the United States and around the world, including habitat loss, overharvesting, attempts to exploit indigenous herbs for profit, and a general lack of interest or knowledge about native herbal remedies. The first step to turning the tide is to educate yourself about plants that are native to your area and value their properties for yourself. Discover three American herbs in the this list of ethnobotanical plants below:
- Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
The slippery elm tree is so called because of the slippery mucilage that is produced when the inner layer of bark is mixed with water. Traditionally, Native Americans would use the mucilage of these ethnobotanical plants as a remedy for several different ailments, including fever, sore throat, coughs, and gastrointestinal problems. They also applied the bark to the skin directly as a poultice.Slippery elm — native to the central and eastern United States and Ontario in Canada — is now at risk due to high demand and overharvesting and care needs to be taken to protect this valuable species into the future.
- American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
American ginseng grows naturally in deciduous forests from the Midwest to Maine and in eastern Canada. Used to boost energy, strengthen the immune system, and more recently to combat diabetes and cancer, this king of North American ethnobotanical plants brings in more than $25 million annually. Wild supplies of American ginseng have diminished thanks to logging, development, and overharvesting. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides information about when and how this species can be harvested in the wild.
- Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
The final herb on our list of ethnobotanical plants is goldenseal. Goldenseal is a member of the buttercup family that has a wide range of traditional uses, being valued as a remedy for:
- Skin disorders
- Fungal skin infections
- Digestive problems
- Liver problems
- Bladder infections
- Eye irritation
- Sore throats
- Cold and flu
- Minor wound healing
Today, over 60 million goldenseal plants are harvested each year and not replaced. This has led to the herb being listed among threatened and endangered ethnobotanical plants in many states.
What You Can Do to Help
If you are as passionate about ethnobotanical plants as we are here at Koko Kratom, we encourage you to get in touch with the Native Plant Conservation Campaign or join a local group that works on native reforestation or conservation efforts in your area. You can also support the ethical, responsible cultivation of herbs by shopping our selection of artisan-farmed kratom strains today.