Dedicated to The Devic and Nature Spirit Realm, Co-Creative/Co-Partnership Gardening,
Medicinal and Metaphysical (Magical) Herbalism and more. Copyright: 1994 - 2012 S. Tephyr Burgess.
Is an herb abundant if it's common in one area and disappearing in another?
Often when I've written an article and mention an herb is rare in my area, I'll get an email from people telling me it's not rare at all and I don't know what I'm talking about. Their reason is that it grows in abundance in their area. Often I'm told if I want some they'll get it for me; often as a gift and sometimes for sale. Once I was invited to come out and see for myself which I politely declined as I would have had to fly in a plane for about 4 hours to get there. But it was a nice thought.
The thing none are considering is just because a plant grows in abundance in one place in particular doesn't make it abundant. It's still a rare plant and should be treated as such. Little of it should be harvested and then only in need; not for profit and preferably not at all. In need one can purchase or grow the plant from ethically harvested seed stock or one can find another species that has similar effects. Particularly one that isn't close to being extinct in the wild. It just takes a little research.
The list of plants that are rare and even close to the endangered list is getting longer. Partly because of humans encroachment into wild lands. Partly they are being decimated for profit. Ginseng and Goldenseal have been endangered for the last 100 years for these reasons and the list grows every day world wide.
I have heard from many people that they have plenty of which ever plant, lichen or fungi in their area and there is no reason for them to worry about it and harvest it at will. The sad thing is eventually then there will be none of the substance in question. There is a reason why no one has seen a Dodo bird in 400 years and it is the poster child for Endangered Species.
Basically this is a plea to please educate yourself and think before you start cutting and digging up herbs in the wild. Even if something is in abundance in your area: find out if it's not one of the last major stands of it's species.
And please! If you see very few of something in an area; even if down the road there are many... but particularly if there is none; don't harvest it. I read someone's blog not long ago; they were so happy to finally find an herb they'd been looking for in their area. I know the feeling well! It's exciting and wonderful. But they harvested it! They didn't let it go to seed or even at least, transplant it (which I don't recommend). And it was an Annual! I mean; take a picture! Come back for a few seeds but don't harvest the plant before it finishes it's cycle.
A good place to start researching this problem is with United Plant Savers. They have a great endangered/at risk list.
But don't just stop with those lists. Any plant that isn't in abundance in your
area should be respected so that hopefully it will be someday. And again, even in
abundance, respect that it may not be else where.
Back to The Garden
For educational information only. No parts of these documents on this site are to be taken as diagnosis or prescription for any illness. See your Medical and Mental Healthcare Practitioner or Spiritual Advisor for any personal health and emotional concerns.