United Plant Savers is delighted to announce the publication and launching of our 'At-Risk' Assessment Tool. We developed an adaptable, transparent tool that can be used to quantify and compare vulnerability to overharvest for wild collected medicinal plants. Subsequently, we are creating a list of the most threatened medicinal plants in temperate North America. The new tool scores species according to their life history, the effects of harvest, their abundance and range, habitat, and demand. The resulting rankings, based on explicit criteria rather than expert opinion, will make it easier to discuss areas of vulnerability and set conservation priorities. Here we present scores for 40 species assessed using the At-Risk Tool and discuss the traits that led to different scores for six example species: echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia DC. Asteraceae), peyote (Lophophora williamsii (Lem. ex Salm-Dyck) J.M. Coult. Cactaceae), sandalwood (Santalum spp. L. Santalaceae), stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L. Urticaceae), American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L. Araliaceae) and mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum L. Berberidaceae).
To read and download the full publication in the Journal of Ethnobiology click here. You can also read the publication as well as download and utilize the assessment tool here.
“I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures.” - Geronimo
Step by step, the newness evolved into an expansive fascination. The natural world was wide-open like the blue skies above and rich like the orange glow of butterfly weed sprinkled around us in a cosmic constellation. For some, we had never laid our eyes upon a real prairie, and maybe only fantasized about what it must have been like with the roaming buffalo, or decorated with the freedom of the people indigenous to the landscape. Before the frontier, before settlers, before railroads and cornfields. United Plant Savers couldn’t have asked for a better venue to hold our Summer 2014 Planting the Future event. Hosted by the incredible efforts of the Kansas Biological Survey and the University of Kansas Field Station in Lawrence, Kansas, we were surrounded by innovation and dedication not only to preserving an ecosystem that is rapidly going extinct, but to a tradition of medicine that is also struggling to stay alive.
The University of Kansas Field Station, the biological field station of the University…
JULY 9, 2014, RUTLAND, OH Dr. Lisa Castle was formally recognized as the recipient of United Plant Savers 2014 Medicinal Plant Conservation Award at our Planting the Future Conference in Lawrence, Kansas. We are indebted to her and eternally grateful for her work and her critical role in the publication and launching of United Plant Savers 'At-Risk' Assessment Tool.
From Left to Right: Dr. Kelly Kindscher of the University of Kansas, Dr. Lisa Castle 2014 MPCA Award Winner, Dr. Susan Leopold, Executive Director, United Plant Savers
Lisa Castle, a plant ecologist, currently teaches biology at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. A lifelong lover of plants, her official interest in medicinal plants started in fifth grade when she wrote a school research paper on “Medicinal Uses of Herbs in Colonial America” at about the same time she planted an perennial herb garden in her parents’ backyard. Her work with the United Plant Savers began in 2000 when she started working with Dr. Kelly Kindscher at the University of Kansas to develop an assessment tool used to compare medicinal plants based on their vulnerability to overharvest. Over the next fourteen years, she worked with herbalists, herb growers, the UPS board, biology…
JUNE 24, 2014, BOSTON, MA Steph Zabel The purpose of creating the first Herbstalk in 2012 was simple: herbalist Steph Zabel wanted to make a fun and accessible community gathering where people could learn more about using herbs in everyday life. The vibrant city of Somerville seemed to be the perfect setting for such an endeavor, being home to many open-minded folks who enjoy new ways of creating community with one another.
No one ever expected such a large and diverse mix of people to show up from across MA and beyond, causing attendance to swell to almost 1,500 people in its first year. Beginning herbal students, seasoned herbalists, local families, and individuals curious about this local, quirky event all mingled together, enjoying a day of classes, workshops, and plant walks. In only its second year, Herbstalk had grown into a two-day event featuring beginner to advanced level classes, along with music, food, fun, children’s activities and vendors from across the Northeast. Our third annual Herbstalk took place on June 7th and 8th in Somerville, MA. We offered herbal classes for beginner and advanced herbal learners, city plant walks, and a wonderful marketplace of handcrafted herbal products. For the…