Ecology and Cultivation of Non-Timber Forest Products in Appalachia

Final Report for LNC02-221

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2002: $100,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $66,873.00
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Brian McCarthy
Ohio University
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Project Information

Summary:

While traditional agriculture and timbering are an important part of the rural economy in central Appalachia, most farmers and landowners are unaware of alternative opportunities. Non-timber forest products represent a considerable resource to the socioeconomic development of the region. The goal of our three year study was to conduct field and laboratory research on methods of growing medicinal herbs and to provide outreach experiences for regional landowners. Field surveys suggest that these species are not being harvested sustainably in the wild. Experimental studies provide useful data for cultivation purposes including breaking seed dormancy, maximizing yield, and understanding natural population dynamics and defining optimal growing conditions.

Introduction:

Rural Appalachia continues to exhibit some of the worst poverty in the United States. Southeastern Ohio has poverty rates above 30% and unemployment rates routinely above 10%, far exceeding the overall rates for the State of Ohio and the nation. Upwards of 60% of children in some Appalachian counties live in poverty. Given the rural nature of the region and the lack of infrastructure and industrial base, small business development provides the most likely opportunity for economic development.

The agricultural economy of Ohio is quite diversified and variable. In the unglaciated portion of southeastern Ohio, farms are typically small (< 100 acres) and generate relatively low gross income (but net income is often significant because they have low indebtedness). Agricultural development that relies upon heavy capital investment, highly mechanized operations, or flat land with deep topsoil is clearly inappropriate to Appalachian Ohio with its small land holdings, hilly terrain, and low-income residents. Assets that we do have include abundant forest lands, plentiful rainfall, reasonably productive soils, and a tremendous diversity, value, and productivity of native forest-growing plants. We also have residents with a long-standing tradition of harvesting, using, and selling a variety of native woodland species. Central Appalachia, which includes the counties of southeastern Ohio, has been described as the “herb-basket” of North America. An incredible array of the most esteemed and valuable medicinal herbs are found in our region. For many of these species, the Appalachian Mountains are virtually the sole source for global supply. Overall, the region is ideally suited to sustainable agricultural practices such as intensive rotational grazing, organic market gardens, forest-cultivated mushrooms, medicinal herbs, and production of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for local and regional consumption. Over the last ten years, a number of growers have used sustainable agricultural practices to develop small but profitable operations. For these reasons, the region is well positioned for rapid expansion of the sustainable NTFP sector. For years, these species have been wild-harvested. Virtually no data exists to document the past or present population levels of most species in regional hardwood forests. In the absence of any data whatsoever, sustainability simply can’t be assessed. Further, so little is known about the biology of these species that we do not know whether they can be cultivated on a commercial scale. If so, must they be forest-cultivated (to simulate natural conditions) or can they be garden-cultivated with the proper conditions? Any cultivation that has been done has been done with wild-collected rhizomes. Thus, we know nothing about requirements necessary to grow plants from seed (a likely necessary condition for commercial application). Given the increasing acreage and maturity of regional forests, the local knowledge of forest herbs, and the abundant resources in our region, it seems prudent to build on these assets and explore more fully the biological and ecological conditions necessary for the production, value-adding, and markets for these species. In addition to the natural and social assets that make cultivation of native woodland species strategic, significant market forces indicate that there is substantial potential for development of medicinal herb and forest food sectors in Appalachia. Over the past 10 years the natural products industry has grown substantially, with annual growth rates as high as 15%. Presently, there is a $6 billion/yr domestic natural products market. Several of the species that make up this market are only found in the central Appalachians. The increased demand for these species raises immediate questions about sustainability of their harvest from wildcrafting. In several instances, certain species have become threatened (most notably ginseng). Conversations with local harvesters suggest that some species are no longer abundant because of over-harvesting. Natural products consumers and companies have responded by proposals for the development of cultivation procedures. Frontier Natural Products Coop first established the National Center for the Preservation of Medicinal Herbs. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were invested to establish a research and education facility. United Plant Savers (UPS), is a 1000-member organization started by herbalists and herbal product companies, devoted entirely to the conservation and survival of medicinal plants growing in the wild. Both NCMPH and UPS are located in Meigs County, Ohio. This has placed Meigs County at the forefront for organic and sustainable cultivation of medicinal herbs in the nation and is well-known amongst herbalists as a “hot spot” for research and education. Given the number of high-value species that are native to the area, the potential for developing a strong NTFP sector in the economy is significant. In 1997, a regional study was conducted by Understory Inc. through a SBIR grant, and determined that a $30 million industry could realistically be developed in Appalachian Ohio alone. With the current market interest in Ohio medicinal herbs, it is quite likely that this industry could expand past this scope. Wild harvested ginseng is already a multi-million dollar industry in Appalachian Ohio, and organically cultivated ginseng will increase both the supply and market price. While a significant opportunity exists for expansion of these local crops, there is simply no infrastructure present to support harvesters or growers or to even notify them of opportunities. Currently, there are no natural resource agencies in the state that have educational materials relating to the production or marketing of forest grown medicinal herbs, or for that matter any NTFP (with the exception of shiitake mushrooms). While many traditional agricultural crops have received massive funding, attention, and study, there is a virtual paucity of information available on native forest-grown species. Research in the form of basic trials has already been initiated at the NCMPH, and at present, it represents the only known source of information for the organic production of forest herbs nationwide. Growers have expressed a desperate need for such basic information as water, light, and nutrient requirements for the proposed species.

Project Objectives:

This project primarily targeted six species for study:

Blue Cohosh: Caulophyllum thalictroides (L.) Michx. (Berberidaceae)
Black Cohosh: Cimicifuga racemosa L. (Ranunculaceae)
Stoneroot: Collinsonia canadensis L. (Lamiaceae)
Wild Yam: Dioscorea villosa L. (Dioscoreaceae)
Goldenseal: Hydrastis canadensis L. (Ranunculaceae)
Bloodroot: Sanguinaria canadensis L (Papaveraceae)

One study also utilized a seventh species:

American ginseng: Panax quinquefolium L. (Araliaceae)

Our initial proposal provided a detailed review of the scientific literature currently available on each of the target species of this study, and will not be repeated here.

The overarching goal of this entire project was to conduct a series of field and laboratory experiments that would fill in knowledge gaps and then provide outreach opportunities to deliver information to regional managers, landowners, and growers that would assist in sustainable wild medicinal plant collection and cultivation.

Objective-1

Objective: Quantify the distribution and abundance of the six target species in wild plant communities of southeastern Ohio and describe their microhabitat associations.

Performance target: Obtain baseline data on the relative availability of each species and provide suggested guidelines for sustainable wild harvesting.

Objective-2

Objective: Conduct autecological (individual and population level) studies on specific species to address information current gaps in the literature.

Performance target: Increase our understanding of those factors that affect production and yield of the study species in wild and/or cultivated conditions.

Objective-3

Objective: To promote cultivation through an increased understanding of seed germination requirements, as opposed to traditional methods employing cuttings (which generate certain several conservation concerns).

Performance target: Define the conditions necessary to break seed dormancy and methods needed to maximize seed germination.

Objective-4

Objective: To collate, synthesize, and communicate the information above to land managers, regional landowners, and medicinal plant growers.

Performance targets: Hold local and regional workshops, provide easily accessible information via web pages.

Research

Materials and methods:

Objective-1

We originally proposed using up to two dozen privately owned farms in the region to conduct a vegetation study of the target species. However, this proved difficult, we suspect in part related to the somewhat secretive nature surrounding those doing wild harvesting and/or cultivation (e.g., ginseng poaching remains as one of the largest impediments to wild cultivation in the region).

A useful proxy is the Wayne National Forest (WNF). This national forest is quite unusual in that it was largely privately owned and in small scale agriculture prior to being acquired. Thus, it represents, on a broad scale, the diversity of land types, histories, soils, etc. that we expect to find on the landscape. We sampled 3,000-5,000 m2 strip plots in seventeen stands, for a total sampling intensity of 5.8 ha. Further, we sampled in areas both open to the public and those had some increased level of protection (e.g., Research Natural Areas) where collecting was not permitted. This allowed us to compare areas where collecting has likely occurred and where it has not occurred (for at least the last 25 years).

Objective-2, Project-A

Project-A involved a detailed study of the population dynamics of the largest known population of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) in the Wayne National Forest. This is the second most widely wild-collected species after ginseng, yet virtually nothing is known about its population dynamics in the wild. This entire population, over 150 m2 was gridded out, mapped, and the population censused in 2001 and again for the following three years. Individuals were scored as juvenile or reproductive, and on each plant we measured leaf length, leaf width, and shoot height on seventy-five randomly chosen ramets at each sampling interval. These data were then compared to the only other known population with detailed demographic data in West Virginia. The Ohio population is natural and the West Virginia population is subject to harvesting, thus providing a contrast for conservation assessment.

Objective-2, Project-B

Project-B was designed specifically to assist growers in assessing the best microsites for conducting forest cultivation of ginseng, goldenseal, bloodroot, and black cohosh. We utilized the field site at the National Center for the Preservation of Medicinal Herbs (Rutland, OH) to conduct this study. Six stands were selected for study (statistical blocks). Each stand was selected such that it could be stratified into a northeast- and southwest-facing slope (representing the major microsite dissimilarities in the highly dissected hilly terrain of southeastern Ohio). Within each stand-slope combination, 12 1-m2 quadrats were established, three of which were randomly allocated to each of the fours study species. Then each quadrat was assigned a litter disturbance treatment: bare soil, undisturbed, litter doubled. Seeds of the study species were sown into each. Germination, recruitment, and establishment were monitored long with growth characteristics.

Objective-3, Project-A

This project was designed to address the previously unreported germination requirements of stoneroot and wild yam. Seeds were either collected from wild populations in Vinton County, Ohio during October, 2003 (stoneroot) or purchased from a commercial supplier (Horizon Herbs Inc.) having done regional collections (wild yam). Seeds were subjected to various storage pre-treatments including room temperature and different periods of cold stratification. Imbibed seeds of both species were placed in petri plates and moved along through a series of six thermoperiods in growth chambers, as suggested by Baskin and Baskin (2003), and compared with subsets maintained at four control thermoperiods. A total of 120 seeds of each species were subjected to each of the treatments.

Objective-3, Project-B

This project was designed to address the previously unreported germination requirements of goldenseal and black cohosh. Seed was wild collected from a number of sites throughout mixed oak forests of southeastern Ohio in October, 2003. Seeds were immediately subjected to tetrazolium stain tests to examine potential seed viability. Four growth chambers were then established to replicate thermoperiods consistent with regional seasonal temperatures and light regimes (to mimic fall, winter, spring, and summer). Seeds were monitored for germination over the next 90d. We then conducted move along experiments (using different thermoperiods) with seeds that had been stored in different conditions including room temperature and cold stratified and ran this experiment in both light and dark conditions. A corresponding set of field experiments were also conducted in Athens Co., OH. Seeds were placed in mesh packets, tethered, and buried for periods of time in native soil. Seeds were extracted at various points and germination monitored.

Objective-3, Project-C

This project was explicitly undertaken to examine the germination of bloodroot seeds. Seed was wild collected from two mixed-mesophytic forest sites in southern Ohio in June 2003. In half of the seed lot, the elaisome was removed. Seed populations with and without an elaisome were then subjected to a move-along experiment to test the null hypothesis of no differences in germination rates among the two seed populations. In a second experiment, seed populations were buried in seed packets under field conditions and periodically retrieved over a two-year period and tested for germination in the laboratory. In a third experiment, laboratory seed populations were germinated across four thermoperiods in 0, 100, and 1000 mg/L of giberrellic acid.

Objective-4

This objective was oriented towards outreach and does not have methods per se. The two primary objectives were outreach via workshops and the production of web pages that summarized literature reviews and experimental data. The literature was surveyed using various electronic database sources, especially the ISI Web of Science through the library services provided by Ohio University (http://www.library.ohiou.edu/find/) and the statewide OhioLINK network (http://www.ohiolink.edu/).

Research results and discussion:

NOTE: Large number of tables & figures provided in final paper report (not postable here).

Objective-1

The National Forest system has no real way to track wild herb harvesting. They do require a one-time simple permit for $20 (analogous to a fishing license) which allows wild herb collection, but no limits or species need be reported. Collectors are requested the species they desire to collect at the time of permit application. A review of WNF records enables us to at least gauge what wild collectors were targeting and evaluate the popularity of the activity based on number of permits sold.

Throughout the WNF, black cohosh was found to be the most abundant plant in the survey and was broadly distributed along most major environmental gradients. Ginseng was infrequently encountered across all environmental gradients and forest types. Bloodroot exhibited narrow habitat specificity, being largely confined to sheltered, northeast-facing sites adjacent to stream terraces and on steep, fertile slopes.

Goldenseal and bloodroot densities were greater in protected sites, whereas ginseng and black cohosh densities were evenly distributed among protected and unprotected sites.

Effective management of these non-timber forest resources will likely require a multi-pronged approach, including long-term demographic monitoring, participatory research with local stakeholders, and the development of management practices to promote positive population growth.

More extensive results and discussion can be found in the enclosed manuscript entitled, “Ecology and management of wild-harvested medicinal herbs in the Wayne National Forest (Ohio, USA),” by Matthew A. Albrecht and Brian C. McCarthy. Submitted to Economic Botany.

Objective-2, Project-A

One hypothesis is that goldenseal populations re-grow at greater rates when harvested during the fall compared to mid-summer. Data were compared to previous studies that quantified the re-growth of a goldenseal population wild-harvested during the fall in West Virginia and to goldenseal populations (n = 3) experimentally harvested during mid-summer. Among the two fall-harvested populations, ramet densities increased by twofold in the Ohio population, but remained relatively stable in the West Virginia population. In contrast, average ramet leaf size was remarkably similar two and four years post-harvest, although the Ohio population appeared to be recovering at slightly faster rates:

Comparison of data between all harvested populations suggests that a previous hypothesis that average ramet leaf- size in fall-harvested (after September) populations may recover at faster rates than populations harvested during mid-summer. Late-summer and fall represents the period in which goldenseal rhizomes are traditionally gathered (see figure left).

Based on cumulative results from these harvest studies and more recent studies on goldenseal ecology, we discuss some of the implications of wild-harvesting on goldenseal population growth and persistence. Determining sustainable harvesting rates under contrasting harvester regimes warrants further research.

Objective-2, Project-B

Topographic position and forest floor microenvironment influenced seedling emergence. Overall, black cohosh exhibited the lowest emergence rates (10 %), while goldenseal exhibited the greatest emergence rates (30%). Deep levels of leaf litter reduced goldenseal emergence compared to bare ground and ambient levels of litter and emergence rates were greater on the north slope compared to the south slope. Bloodroot emergence was also inhibited by deeper levels of litter across both topographic positions.

Across all species, survivorship rates over the two year period averaged 40% across all treatment combinations. Bloodroot seedling survived at greater rates on north plots relative to south plots. Goldenseal and black cohosh seedlings survived at greater rates on north facing slopes where leaf litter was absent. The opposite pattern occurred on south-facing plots where leaf litter facilitated survivorship of black cohosh and goldenseal seedlings.

Overall, seedlings of each species grew slowly in agroforestry conditions. Bloodroot showed greater rhizome growth rates on north facing-aspects compared to south facing aspects. In contrast, goldenseal growth rates were similar across the litter and aspect treatment combinations. Black cohosh seedlings grew at greater rates on south-facing aspects, reflecting this species positive response to light conditions.

Objective-3, Project-A

Seeds of wild yam exposed to natural temperatures in a common garden experiment reached peak germination in the third week of April. Daily maximum and minumum temperatures ranged from 15-20 degrees C and 3-10 degrees C, respectively.

Seed germination (± SE) for wild yam was maximized at a 15:6 degrees C thermoperiod, with the two extreme (cold and hot) treatments yielding 0% germination. Alternatively, stoneroot reached maximal germination percentages and had the greatest germination velocity under the warmest treatment thermoperiod of 30:15 degrees C.

Species also responded differently to varying lengths of cold stratification. Wild yam germinated more rapidly than stoneroot when held at 5 degrees C storage for 4 or 8 weeks and the two species showed a significantly different response to being held for 4 weeks or 8 weeks.

The results confirm that both species were dormant at maturity. Both also appear to exhibit physiological dormancy in as much as cold stratification increases dormancy breaking. Stoneroot exhibits simple physiological dormancy while wild yam exhibits non-deep simple morphophysiological dormancy (MPD; Baskin and Baskin 2001).

The temperature requirements for dormancy-break identified in this study can guide direct seeding in the field and thereby facilitate conservation management strategies with often extremely limited germplasm.

Objective 3, Project-B

Germination trajectories (mean ± SE) for black cohosh and goldenseal seeds transferred through simulated seasonal temperature sequences show a differential response. Black cohosh experiences nearly 95% germination within 16 weeks and goldenseal required almost 32 weeks to reach the same point of maximal germination (80% germination).

All factors considered goldenseal proved to be considerably more difficult to germinate over a variety of conditions. Black cohosh exhibited increased germination under any stratification treatment, but reached greatest germination rates under long stratification periods and slightly cooler thermoperiods. In contrast, goldenseal did not germinate well (i.e., > 60%) under any stratification or treatment condition. It reached its maximum germination percentage under a modest thermoperiod after a long stratification period.

Lastly, we found that both species did best under natural forest conditions when seeds were buried slightly in the ground. A change in litter circumstance, either addition or removal, greatly lowered the proportion of seeds that emerged. This suggests that seeds should be planted in as undisturbed of an area as possible. A small amount of ambient leaf litter appears necessary to maintain the conditions necessary for optimal germination and establishment.

Objective-3, Project-C

Bloodroot seeds exhibited relatively high rates of germination (70-80%) regardless of whether they were subjected to a summer or winter move along thermoperiod sequence.

No radicles ever emerged from bloodroot seeds during spring in the laboratory simulation and in the field burial study. Bloodroot seeds appear to exhibit deep simple epicotyl morphophysiological dormancy. This pattern of dormancy is confirmed by the gibberlic acid treatment experiment.

Objective-4

In addition to the many outreach events sponsored by Rural Action (see section entitled Publication/Outreach) the primary product (under continuous development) is a website hosted by the Appalachian Forest Resource Center (http://www.appalachianforest.org/). From this page, click on Plants to Watch.

A link to the Plant Index then provides direct access to all of the web pages being developed with a comprehensive description of the plant, and its taxonomy, ecology, cultivation, etc.

Research conclusions:

As primarily a research endeavor, most of the products of this work (publications listed below) will be realized in upcoming years as more landowners, small farmers, and those interested in wild cultivation begin growing these medicinal herbs. We have provided a number of publications (in print, press, or review) that directly deal with the issues of breaking seed dormancy in the major species of concern. All of these publications are charted by the major abstracting services and should be retrievable from any college or university in the country.

An unintended by-product of this research has already helped state and federal public lands managers become more informed on the issue of wild plant collecting and this has led to a deeper consideration of permitting practices. Monitoring programs for public and private lands are also being discussed by service foresters and woodland interest groups. Our data strongly suggest that wild harvesting of medicinal herbs on public lands is not sustainable. Sustainability on private lands will likely require forest cultivation of the species of interest.

Economic Analysis

This project was set up as research and education and does not have a direct economic component that was under consideration.

Farmer Adoption

Most of the cultivation literature on medicinal herbs suggests beginning with divided plants (most of these species are perennials). This practice poses an enormous hazard from a biodiversity perspective! The large number of roots and rhizomes that move around in the eastern United States each year is phenomenal. These underground structures invariably carry small amounts of soil, nematodes, bacteria, and fungi. On the other hand, seeds can be collected, sterilized, and shipped with little danger of carrying unwanted or invasive species associated with them. Germplasm banks of various genotypes and regional ecotypes can also be created and stored. To date, most farmers are unaware that many of these species can be grown from seed.

Farmers wishing to grow medicinal herbs should wild collect seed from their own ecoregion in the autumn of the year, preferably from multiple populations, use the appropriate storage and stratification criteria described in our products, and produce local genotypes that are pathogen free the following spring.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:

Dissertation

Albrecht, M.A. Regeneration ecology of medicinal woodland herbs indigenous to the central Appalachians. Ph.D. dissertation. Ohio University, Athens, OH. (expected September, 2006)

Publications in Peer-reviewed Journals

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2006. Seed germination and dormancy in the medicinal woodland herbs Dioscorea villosa L. (Dioscoreaceae) and Collinsonia canadensis L. (Lamiaceae). Flora 201: 24-31.

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. In Press. Comparative analysis of goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) population re-growth following human harvest: implications for conservation. American Midland Naturalist.

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. In Review. Effects of dry storage on seed dormancy and survivorship in goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) and black cohosh (Actaea racemosa L.). Seed Science Research.

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. In Review. Ecology and management of wild-harvested medicinal herbs in the Wayne National Forest (Ohio, USA). Economic Botany.

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. In Review. Ecological consequences of seed dormancy and germination in the temperate woodland herbs Actaea racemosa L. and Hydrastis canadensis L. Canadian Journal of Botany.

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. In Preparation. Are bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis L.) seeds double dormant? Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society.

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. In Preparation. Germination and survival of globally important medicinal herbs in temperate agroforestry systems, USA. Biodiversity and Conservation.

Publications in Non-peer-reviewed Outlets

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2005. Wild Yam. The Grapevine, Spring 2005. Rural Action Forestry Program Newsletter.

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2003. Bloodroot. Ohio Woodland Journal.

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2003. Bloodroot. The Grapevine, Spring 2003. Rural Action Forestry Program Newsletter.

Presentations at Professional Scientific Conferences

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2006. Interspecific variation in seed dormancy and germination of temperate woodland herbs threatened by human harvesting. Ecological Society of America 89th Annual Meeting, Memphis, TN, USA

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2005. Population dynamics of black cohosh
(Actaea racemosa L.) in southern Ohio. Ohio Journal of Science Vol. 105: A-25
(Ohio Academy of Science: 114th Annual Meeting).

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2005. Seed germination ecology of bloodroot
(Sanguinaria canadensis L.) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.). Ohio
Journal of Science Vol. 105: A-36 (Ohio Academy of Science: 114th Annual
Meeting).

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2004. The population biology and life history of black cohosh, an economically important eastern woodland herb. Southeastern Biology 51: 88 (Association of Southeastern Biologists 65th Annual Meeting, Memphis, TN, USA).

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2003. Habitat specificity and temporal trends in harvesting of medicinal herbs in the Wayne National Forest (Ohio, USA).
Ecological Society of America 88th Annual Meeting, Savannah, GA, USA.

Albrecht, MA. and B.C. McCarthy. 2002. Distribution patterns in the abundance and harvesting of medicinal herbs in the Wayne National Forest (Ohio, USA). Ohio Journal of Science Vol. 103 (1): A-30. (Ohio Academy of Science: 112th Annual Meeting).

Webpages

From the Sustainable Forestry Program front page (http://www.ruralaction.org/forestry.html) of Rural Action, Inc. (http://ruralaction.org) a link has been added to a new set of webpages designed to promote Non-Timber Forest products and especially medicinal herb cultivation associated with this project.

These Web Pages have been called Plants to Watch (http://www.appalachianforest.org/Plants_to_Watch.html). This front page provides a pre-ample about the project and links to a page entitled, Plant Index (http://www.appalachianforest.org/Plants_to_watch_index.html) which lists all of the major medicinal herb species in the central Appalachian region. From here, one can choose any species which then links to a full profile summary page on that species, with information on taxonomy, morphology, biogeography, ecology, pests & pathogens, cultivation, etc.

Outreach workshops

Annual Landowners Conferences

2002- held at Camp Oty’Okwa in the Hocking Hills -June 2002- attended by 225
2003- held at Camp Oty’Okwa in the Hocking Hills -June 2003- attended by 239
2004- held at Camp Oty’Okwa in the Hocking Hills -June 2004- attended by 247
2005- held at Camp Oty’Okwa in the Hocking Hills -June 2005- attended by 254

Research Roundtable Reception (May 13, 2004): Reception for 75 local producers and resource persons in order to encourage information exchange among the participants.
One example of a success stemming from this meeting is research collaboration between Ohio University Professor Brian McCarthy and West Virginia forester Russ Richardson on Japanese stiltgrass, an invasive species that threatens growth of native medicinal plants on Russ’ property.

Research Roundtable Forum (May 14-15, 2005): Organized by the Appalachian Forest Resource Center (AFRC) and the Medicinal Plants Working Group of Plant Conservation Alliance. The forum was attended by over 2 dozen researchers, extension staff, and growers from Appalachia and the Ozarks. Conference was designed to discuss the state of the art in medicinal plant cultivation and conservation in the Eastern Mountain Region.

Project Outcomes

Recommendations:

Areas needing additional study

The socioeconomic component of both wild herb collecting and wild herb cultivation is simply not well understood. How many people are collecting in any given year? How much occurs on private vs. public land? How much volume is collected and what are the market pressures that determine collecting, sale, and value addition? Is it profitable to grow plants from seed vs. rhizome? Can small scale cultivation of these herbs be profitable and to what extent does it impact local rural economies?

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.