Diversify Production Methods of Medicinal Herb Crops with Tissue Culture

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2007: $9,946.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:


  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, workshop, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement, soil stabilization, wildlife
  • Pest Management: botanical pesticides, compost extracts, field monitoring/scouting, mulches - killed, physical control, prevention, row covers (for pests), sanitation, trap crops, traps, weather monitoring
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, public participation, social networks, sustainability measures


    The medicinal herb industry is a steadily increasing concern for herb farmers. Demand for herbal products exceeds the supply in many cases and new methods of cultivation need to be explored. With this in mind I attempted to produce, through experimentation, plant specific protocol for the micropropagation or tissue culture of Sambucus nigra (Elderberry), Chamaelirium luteum (Fairywand), Echinacea angustifolia, and Scutillaria lateriflora (Skullcap). I wanted to know if micropropagation was a cost effective method for herb cultivation and could high laboratory expenses be avoided by using simplified methods to make it a more affordable alternative.
    Various media components were explored with each variety and challenges of contaminated stock plant material and harsh cleaning solutions were overcome. Protocol was established with two of the four herbs chosen. Micropropagation methods were simplified by using household equipment and results were compiled and written in laymen’s terms in an easy to understand manual. These simplified procedures were taught to herb farmers through workshops and what seemed impossible was suddenly an approachable method of cultivation.
    Diversifying propagation methods of medicinal herb crops through tissue culture has been proven to be an enjoyable, affordable and cost effective solution for medicinal herb farmers and the dynamics of this method will continue to grow.

    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.