Medicinal Plants at Risk
Habitat loss and deforestation combined with overharvesting due to the surge in popularity of herbal remedies and supplements in recent years has resulted in dwindling populations of important medicinal plants around the world. The above-mentioned BGSI report states that plant extinctions are occurring at rates hundreds of times higher than natural background rates, and 15,000 species of medicinal plants are now threatened.
United Plant Savers, a US group dedicated to the conservation of medicinal plants, has compiled a list of medicinal plants and herbs that are at risk due to overharvesting and habitat loss. Some of the plants include:
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa Cimicifuga)
Bloodroot (Sangiunaria Canadensis)
Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) (Echinacea spp.)
Eyebright (Euphrasia spp.)
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa, D. spp.)
United Plant Savers has several programs in place to preserve and protect wild medicinal plants. The Botanical Sanctuary Network includes over 70 sanctuaries across the US where native ecosystems have been restored, invasive plants have been removed, and medicinal plants have been re-established.