Herbal KnowledgeFeb 2, 2022

Pharm Ethics: United Plant Savers

United Plant Savers is a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring our native herbs will be here for generations to come. UpS was founded in 1994, after leading herbalist Rosemary Gladstar sounded the alarm that these herbs were under threat in the wild.

The United Plant Savers mission “is to protect native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come.”

Getting involved with United Plant Savers was incredibly important to our mission and values. UpS brought to the attention of the entire herbal community that plants were being threatened by environmental encroachment as well as their growing popularity. In fact, some plants — like American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) — are specifically targeted for poaching or overharvest. Herb Pharm’s founders Ed Smith and Sara Katz got involved with United Plant Savers early on.

Before UpS, wildcrafting was considered to be the norm for herbalism — we didn’t know how much wild populations of these plants could be at risk. After learning about the threats facing the herbs we value and respect so much, Sara and Ed were inspired to get involved, and this also led them to purchase our Certified Organic farm.

As a company that uses plants like Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa) and other Eastern woodland herbs in our products, we knew we had to get involved. Supporting United Plant Savers and protecting these plants aligns with our commitment to do right from the soil up.

Despite our decades of experience growing and extracting herbs, we have learned a great deal by working with UpS — like the finer points of growing Echinacea purpurea and Black Cohosh. We now successfully grow many traditional Appalachian herbs on our property here in southern Oregon. By choosing to use organically cultivated plant material in our extracts whenever possible, we can help to minimize the impact of continued overharvesting of these beloved, vulnerable herbs in the wild.

Our land is a botanical sanctuary, certified by United Plant Savers, and we grow several species on their “At-Risk” and “To Watch” lists. Sara remains a UpS board member, and our Herbaculture Internship Program is also a member of their Partners in Education program. We grow and nurture native plants used in herbalism — not merely for commercial gain but to ensure their future.

Currently, we are cultivating production crops of Echinacea, Pleurisy Root aka Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) and Stoneroot (Collinsonia canadensis).

Around the farm and in our Education Garden, we also grow Appalachian plants including:

  • Black Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
  • Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
  • Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
  • Cascara Sagrada (Frangula purshiana)
  • False Unicorn (Chamaelirium luteum)
  • Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
  • Lomatium (Lomatium dissectum)
  • Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium)
  • Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
  • Spikenard (Aralia racemosa)
  • Trillium (Trillium spp.)
  • Virginia Snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria)
  • Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa)
  • Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica)

To help save these plants and become a botanical sanctuary, you don’t have to be a commercial herb farm. You could create one right in your own backyard or garden.

UpS brought to light the threatened state of so many of our favorite herbs, and as a company we will continue to be deeply committed to its mission.

About United Plant Savers

Founded: 1994

Located: Based in Vermont, with a 400-acre botanical sanctuary in southeastern Ohio

Mission: To protect native plants used in herbalism and their native habitats while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of these plants for generations to come

What They Do: Research, education and conservation of native herbs and their habitats