• Goldenseal
  • Black Cohosh
  • Laddy Slipper Orchid
  • Trillium


Spring Seed Giveaway, Arnica and Arnica Analogues
by Richo Cech

A vibrant patch of arnica, with flowers radiant in the summer sun, is a lovely focal point of the apothecary garden. In herbal medicine, arnica is among the most useful of remedies. The tincture or oil infusion of the dried flowers, applied topically, is an effective treatment for blunt traumatic injury, strains and sprains. The herb is an effective discutient, increasing circulation and helping dispel morbid matter--swelling goes down, bruises dissipate. Since antiquity, arnica has been combined with calendula and Saint John's wort, a dynamic threesome that assuages pain, fights infection, promotes nerve reparation and speeds healing, a formula that proves useful to this day.

Arnica montana (mountain arnica), the endemic European species, is considered official. However, other species of arnica (there are 28 in North America) are used by local herbalists and appear to be medicinally interchangeable with the official species. Arnica chamissonis (meadow arnica) enjoys a wide distribution in North America and Europe and is listed in the German Commission E Monograph as a viable substitute for A. montana in herbal medicine. Finding substitutes for the official species is a worthy goal, since populations of A. montana are declining over much of its range. Collection of flowers for medicinal purposes is illegal in France. The plant is classed as "vulnerable" in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Lithuania and Slovenia. A. montana is variously protected in Czech Republic, France, Italy, and the Ukraine. The plant is listed as "critically endangered" in Luxembourg, "threatened" in Sweden, and "extinct" in Hungary. Collection of flowers and roots for medicinal purposes, combined with encroaching agriculture and urbanization has contributed to depopulation of the wild stands, creating shortages of the herb in commerce. Under the circumstances, it makes sense to grow arnica and arnica analogs, and this is precisely why United Plant Savers has chosen arnica for the spring seed giveaway.

We're supplying 100% certified organic seed of Arnica montana, Arnica chamissonis, and the "arnica analogs", Helichrysum italicum and Calendula officinalis. In this seed set, there is certainly a little bit of something for every gardener. Those living at altitude will do well to concentrate on the A. montana, which makes large flowers that are easy to pick and make lots of medicine. Those living at lower altitudes might have better luck with A. chamissonis, which is a bit easier to grow. Given a suitable soil and sun exposure, this plant will thrive even at sea level. Helichrysum italicum (curry plant) is native to the Mediterranean and grows well in hot, dry climates with mild, wet winters. The herb is anti-inflammatory, fungicidal and astringent. The yellow flowers of Helichrysum are pretty and aromatic, very good in dried arrangements, and can be distilled, tinctured or infused in oil to make the medicine. Everybody knows calendula, and we're offering our nicest large-flowered orange calendula, the easiest of all herbs to grow, and one of the finest medicinal herbs to know.

Arnica seeds respond well to standard flower seed propagation methods. Prepare a light seeding mix that is free of lime and contains sand, forest loam and peat moss (or coir). Press the seeds into the surface of the soil or barely cover and tamp, and then keep the flat warm, in the light, and evenly moist until germination, which occurs in 1 to 3 weeks. The seedlings will be quite small and slow growing at first. Once they are large enough to handle, individuate into pots and tend them for up to a year before transplanting out to the garden. Once a good patch is established, it is fairly easy to produce more plants by means of division. Dig a rhizome, pot it up, and aerial parts will soon appear.
Arnica enjoys a full sun exposure and loose, moist to mesic, acidic soils. The plant is intolerant of lime. Because it is rhizomatous (reproducing by way of underground creepers), it quickly populates a raised bed with a dense, monotypic stand. We have found that amending the native soil with compost, coir, peat, and sand, making a very loose mix that can easily be penetrated by the runners, helps promote the spread of arnica and will result in a good yield of medicinal flowers in the fall of the first year, in the summer of the second year and for years thereafter. Harvest the flowers in early flowering stage and dry on screens in a warm, dark and well ventilated place. Dry until crispy. It is a good idea to use the flowers soon after drying, as they tend to get buggy in storage.

Arnica is apomictic, meaning that seed formation is initiated asexually by spontaneous division of the gamete prior to the blossoming phase. The plant does not require pollination in order to make viable seed, and every seed will produce a plant identical to the mother plant. For the purpose of seed saving, this means that there is no need to collect seed from a minimum number of individuals, and there is no concern about hybridization with other species—the seeds you harvest will remain true and strong whether harvested from one seed head or a thousand. So feel free to grow your arnica and save your own seed—nature needs your help!

Plant the future with this year’s selection of medicinal plant seeds. This year’s spring seed giveaway consists of 1 packet each of mountain arnica, (Arnica montana), meadow arnica (Arnica chamissonis), curry plant (Helichrysum italicum) and calendula (Calendula officinalis). Seeds are all grown by Horizon Herbs. Planting instructions will be included with your order.
To order seeds please send your name, address, and a check or money order for $7.50 (to cover shipping and handling) by April 15, 2013 to:
UpS Spring Seed Giveaway
PO Box 400
East Barre, VT 05649

Current members only; one order per member. We’ll send the orders out in April, but you will still be able to order while supplies last. Please note: We have raised our price for the seed giveaway due to the cost of seeds and shipping, but it is still a great membership benefit at this price!

UpS Spring Seed Giveaway PO BOX 400, East Barre, VT 05649

The Hawaiian Sandalwood Video Project This past fall United Plant Savers co-organized the International Sandalwood Symposium that took place over four days, with over 30 academic presentations on the following topics: local and global markets and threats, chemistry and genetics, cultivation and propagation, ecology and environment, regional use and development, regulation and sustainable management. Speakers were from several countries including the United States, Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Tonga and Vanuatu. Three take home points of the ISS gathering: beginning with the fact that the sandalwood story of Hawaii is one that is sadly playing out in island nations throughout the Pacific as small fragmented populations that are left of endemic species and varieties are struggling to survive due to an increase in price as supply shrinks. Secondly it is important for consumers to understand that nearly half the world’s global supply is being poached and that adulteration of sandalwood products is taking place. Third is that sandalwood as a value-added product has the potential to be an economic contribution to remote, rural island nations if efforts are invested in research, education, conservation and cultivation. In the winter of 2012 before the ISS gathering I traveled with my three kids to the


Ginseng Expo UpS was one of the many sponsors of the Ginseng gathering December 7th-8th at the Mountain Horticultural Research Center in NC. Andy Hankins sadly passed away recently; he was an advocate for ginseng conservation, helping stewards of small farms like myself learn about planting ginseng. He also taught at UpS events and as an agricultural extension agent provided valuable information to many. The Ginseng Expo was dedicated to Andy Hankins and his efforts to help landowners grow wild-simulated ginseng in Virginia, which is now a key strategy for taking the pressure off of wild populations. Andy was a great teacher, a true plantsman and a strong advocate for helping small farmers make a living off their land. You can download his valuable research on ginseng and on growing cut flowers at this site: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/author/h/hankins-andy-res.html The Ginseng Expo was organized with valuable panel discussions and in house voting on important conservation issues. You can hear short interviews about the expo at: www.oursoutherncommunity.org. Many important topics were discussed on the great need for conservation of ginseng, including where it is disappearing from our national parks. To find out more download the following .pdf of


The Appalachian Center for Ethnobotanical Studies along with Tai Sophia Institute has recently published two plant monographs based on the UpS 'at-risk' list: Black Cohosh and Goldenseal.The following plant monographs are soon to be published (False Unicorn, Stone root, Wild Yam, Boneset, American Ginseng, Blood root, Slippery Elm, Wild Indigo, and Pipsissewa) The Mission of The Appalachian Plant Monographs project is:
  • To preserve Appalachian culture by documenting the traditional uses of native Appalachian plants. This aspect distinguishes this project from many other monographs.
  • To encourage the cultivation of economically important plants and insure sustainability by providing resources for growers and harvesters. To provide resources for students, practitioners, researchers, and the general public.
  • To integrate indigenous knowledge with modern research by providing access to both aspects of understanding.
To view monographs visit: http://www.frostburg.edu/aces/appalachian-plants/


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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


United Plant Savers Medicinal Plant Conservation Certificate Program

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Spring 2019: April 29 - June 7.

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Tel. (740) 742-3455
Email: office@UnitedPlantSavers.org



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