• Goldenseal
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  • Trillium

by Susan Leopold, Executive Director

It's hard to untangle the work that UpS carries out on a day-to-day basis because it is an interconnected Web in which one program feeds another, and the strength of the silk is based on you, the membership. At the Economic Botany's annual meeting Michelle Baumflek from Cornell University brought the concept of health sovereignty to my attention. She presented the case study of the Mi'kamaq and Maliseet communities of northern Maine and the use of Acorus americanus (sweet flag/muskrat root). As I sat listening to this presentation, I started to think how critical UpS is to health sovereignty here in the U.S. and Canada. It is easy for many in nations with some degree of primary health care unassociated with medicinal plants to overlook this link between traditional knowledge and community health sovereignty. This concept was first presented in the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Sadly indigenous people are often stuck between two worlds—one in which they are losing land critical to sourcing medicinal plants, along with the knowledge of how to use those plants; and secondly, they also lack adequate access to primary healthcare. But this is not just an issue of indigenous people or those who call developing nations home—it is an issue for all of us living on this planet.

UpS’s mission to protect medicinal plants and their habitats is also deeply interwoven into the knowledge of how to use these medicines and how to be caretakers of the forests, meadows, and wetlands where we source these herbs that heal us. In essence the idea of health sovereignty includes the ability to choose medicines that are socio-culturally and ecologically appropriate, thereby providing practical, reliable, and contextually-relevant health care options. (Kickbush 2000; Smith 2006, Mousseau 2005; Kassam 2010; Nabhan 2009; Windfuhr and Jonsén 2005).

This summer alone United Plant Savers has put on three wonderful events. At each event those with knowledge in regards to conservation and how to use these plants in the socio-cultural and ecological systems they inhabit gathered to share critical knowledge. In essence we are co-creating the infrastructure to secure heath sovereignty for the future. Our “Planting the Future” events, our grants program that seeds community gardens, our outreach to herb schools, and our growth and constant nourishment of the UpS membership feed the mission as we move diligently towards ensuring abundant supply of locally sourced medicine that is an essential human right. But if we do not actively engage in the passing along of knowledge that teaches others and the younger generation how to use and steward healing herbs, then we risk losing them and the health sovereignty they so generously gift us.

My hope is that you read this summer bulletin and are deeply inspired by all the good news of what UpS is co–creating with you, our membership, and the plants we all love.

Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines and to maintain their health practices, including the conservation of their vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals. Indigenous individuals also have the right to access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services. (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2008, Article 24, Section 1).

Sacred Groves…Activism and Conservation of Healing Plants By Susan Leopold, PhD United Plant Savers as an activist organization must consistently be asking what are the threats to the plants we all love and how do we act in a conscious effort to protect them. There is no easy answer to this question, but if you look at the literature that discusses healing plants and conservation among indigenous communities, there are wonderful models of how humans have done so for generations. One such example is well illustrated in a study conducted in Sierra Leone among the Kpaa Mende tribes. This study documents a cultural example of how a functioning system, rich in ethnobotanical use, results in the conservation of sacred groves through a dynamic human/plant relationship (Lebbie and Freudenberger, 1995). The Kpaa Mende have secret societies consisting of herbalists, who maintain the sacred groves for the purpose of initiation ceremonies, spiritual rites, adolescent education, training ground for herbalists, and sources of medicinal plants. Cultural sanctions and taboos provide limits to over-exploitation of these sacred groves in a proactive way. As is often the case and demonstrated in this study of the Kpaa Mende’s sacred groves, individuals using plant resources rooted in a


OHIO MAGAZINE - Botanical Wonders! Read an amazing feature article hot off the press with beautiful picture of UpS's Goldenseal Sanctuary in Rutland, Ohio. http://www.ohiomagazine.com/Main/Articles/Botanical_Wonders_4537.aspx


Celle Rikwerda, of Stark Natural Herb Farm, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. www.starknaturalherbs.ca I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Celle Rikwerda this past summer at her herb farm and nursery, which became the first UpS Botanical Sanctuary in British Columbia. I was so impressed with Celle’s passion for herbs and her desire togrow her small business, while simultaneously raising her four young children. Celle is following in her mother’s footsteps going to school to become a chartered herbalist and being passionate about the ethnobotany of plants found in the Northwest. Celle is helping spread the mission of UpS through her blog, community outreach to her children’s school, and local garden club with her farm tours. She recently wrote an article about Lobelia inflate for the Canadian Herbalist Association of British Columbia and has also contributed articles to the UpS Journal. Celle goes out of her way to educate visitors to her farm about plants on the “At-Risk” and “To-Watch” lists through her herb garden and plant nursery. As a young mother, Celle finds time to make herbal remedies and work towards making her small homestead as self–sufficient as possible. Celle says, “We try to stock as many


Updated 2012 (click "read more" below to download a PDF version of the Directory today!) UNITED PLANT SAVERS ~ ACTIVELY PLANTING THE FUTURE Many of our members are interested in growing medicinal plants, both individually and commercially with the focus on restoring those on the UpS “At-Risk” and “To-Watch” lists. Since 1996 we have been compiling names of individuals, nurseries and farms that supply these plants. Our intention is to not only provide members with resources of where to obtain these plants, but to make the ethical business of medicinal plant propagation more profitable than the practice of wild collection of “At-Risk” plants. Generally the wild collection of seed for resale purposes is considered ethical as long as the regenerative potential of wild plant colonies is not jeopardized. The resources listed in this catalogue have been contacted directly by UpS and have filled out a statement form that states they are selling nursery-propagated stock. When ordering seeds/plants/herbs from any of these companies, let them know that you saw their listing in the UpS Nursery and Bulk Herb Directory. This is an ongoing project and we continually update the Directory. If you know of other resources that should be included


UpS adds 6 species of Native Hawaiian Sandalwood to its 'At-Risk' list The 'At-Risk' list has been used since UpS was established as a way to bring awareness to the vulnerability of overharvesting of native medicinal plants. The criteria that UpS considers in adding a new species takes into account the morphology of how the species grows and reproduces, the distribution range of the species, and the market demand for the species relative to the species population. Native Hawaiian Sandalwood is extremely vulnerable to overharvesting and risk of extinction due to the fact that it takes more that 40 years to mature, and harvesting involves taking the entire tree. Furthermore the sandalwood tree is a hemi-parasite species meaning that it needs to grow along with certain host plants making it a very tricky species to reforest successfully. Sandalwood’s extraordinary fragrance, versatility, and medicinal properties have put it in high demand for centuries, all over the world. This is why Hawaii’s native sandalwood population was almost completely decimated during the infamous sandalwood trade that took place during 1815-1825. Despite this terrible time in Hawaii’s history, Hawaii still remains the only region in the world where sandalwood is being commercially harvested with


Goldenseal Sanctuary spring intern Ted Martello (aka TMello) is hiking the Appalachian trail as a fundraiser for United Plant Savers. TMello is proposing a penny for each mile he walks southbound from the beginning of the Appalachian Trail in Maine. His goal is to reach the trail's end by November or December, a total of 2175 miles (for a total of $21.75). Read TMello's blog at http://sobo2ga.blogspot.com/ Suggested donation amounts: One penny for each mile = 21.75 Five cents for each mile =108.75 Ten cents for each mile =217.50


News: Tree Planting CompletedExciting news at the Goldenseal Sanctuary, riparian restoration has begun with the planting of 5,232 seedlings consisting of 1,000 Sugar Maples, 1,000 Black Walnut, 1,000 Red Oak, 940 Persimmon, 400 Black Cherry, 367 Sweet Gum, 175 Red Osier Dogwood, 175 Red Bud, and 175 Sassafras. Tree planting was done by Williams Forestry and Associates as noted in photos below. Amazingly, this team of tree planters arrived in the morning and quickly set up the marking flags for the tree planting, trimmed the roots and dipped the trees to prepare them for planting. They then took off into the fields with their mattocks and put the wips into the ground. By 4 p.m. that same day they were finished. This project was overseen by Megis Soil and Water Conservation District. Funds for the project were set aside due to a catastrophic mine flooding that took place in July of 1993, this tree planting project is part of a larger mission to restore the Leading Creek Watershed.


News:  Black Cohosh Medicinal Plant Sustainability Study! Volunteers NeededJune 16-19th at Reddish Knob (west of Harrisonburg, VA) and/or July 14-17th at Mount Rogers (near Marion, VA) Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) is shade growing herbaceous perennial used to help ameliorate symptoms of menopause. Market interest is growing for many wild-harvested medicinal plants. In 2001 over 92 tons of black cohosh was harvested (USFWS 2002). More than 98% of black cohosh was harvested from the wild. Monitoring this natural resource is essential to identifying sustainable harvest levels. We are hoping for 22-25 volunteers to inventory, monitor and harvest black cohosh plants. Come and join us in the woods to have an interesting, productive and fun time contributing to vital research that will help identify better management practices for this significant medicinal plant. For more information contact: Dr. Jim Chamberlain: jachambe@vt.edu or 540-231-3611 or Liz Hiebert ehiebert@vt.edu Please copy both of us in all communications.


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Seeking Nominations

Do you have someone or an organization in mind that you would like to nominate for the Medicinal Plant Conservation Award? If so send an email and tell us why. Nominations should be emailed to office@unitedplantsavers.org

Call for Articles

Time is running out! 
We want to include YOUR article
in the next Journal of Medicinal
Plant Conservation.
Deadline for submissions:
January 10th, 2018
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Events that Promote the
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Florida Herbal Conference
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February 23th-25th, 2018


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