Doing Good by the Plants.
Do you ever consider and question where your herbal products are coming from? May that be bulk dried herbs, tea, extracts, herbal supplements to plant based beauty products, to those used in spiritual practices. Do you ever question how and where are they sourced? Thankfully to plant folks like United Plant Savers and USDA threatened, endangered species list this information is available to the public. We can do our part in saving plants that are in threat, endangered, AT-RISK and on the TO WATCH list by educating ourselves and not support those who are wild harvesting plants for commerce. We can do our part by contacting and questioning those who are producing products made of plants that can not sustain the demand. Taking the opportunity to educate them and hopefully encourage them to change their path.
If you are unfamiliar with United Plant Savers conservation work, they are a group of plant folk who is out to preserve and protect medicinal plants that are impacted by not only the demand, over wild harvesting but by environmental factors, habitat loss, climate change. "For the benefit of the plant communities, wild animals, harvesters, farmers, consumers, manufacturers, retailers and practitioners, we offer this list of wild medicinal plants which we feel are currently most sensitive to the impact of human activities. Our intent is to assure the increasing abundance of the medicinal plants which are currently in decline due to expanding popularity and shrinking habitat and range. UpS is not asking for a moratorium on the use of these herbs. Rather, we are initiating programs designed to preserve these important wild medicinal plants". - United Plant Savers
For more on United Plant Savers (UpS) and their work, listen to Idyllic Land Studio Podcast #8 United Plant Savers Medicinal Conservation interview where host Rachel Fae Kozlic, herbalist, artist, mother, interviews John Stock who is the Outreach Coordinator for UpS.
USDA on the other hand is covering federal and state plant species that are threatened or endangered, many of the plants that are on the USDA list are not used in the herb trade so you will find a long list of plants listed by their scientific name. Their list also includes plants that are rare, commercially vulnerable, protected, sensitive, vulnerable and more. If we are going to take from the plants then we owe it to the plants to educate ourselves outside of ethnobotanical, traditional medicinal uses.
Nowadays, everyone is an "herbalist" and those who wildcraft are claiming the title of being"ethical". I see more folks today producing plant based products who do not have adequate knowledge of the plants and how they work. Many folks have taken an herbal preparation workshop and turn around to make a product line yet they do not have a full understanding of how the plants work. They regurgitate medicinal uses into their own words that they have read in a book or online presenting themselves as knowledgeable.
THE ENVIRONMENT IS BEING DEGRADED BOTH GLOBALLY AND LOCALLY, LARGELY AS A RESULT OF HUMAN ACTIVITY.
Facebook plant groups have postings from folks who are gathering large amounts of plants without proper identification and post "is this edible or medicinal". Several times I have seen on Instagram folks sharing their recent wild harvest, having mis-identified the plant they picked. Others are wild harvesting plants that are either on the USDA Threatened & Endangered Species list or on the United Plant Savers Species At-Risk or To Watch list. Yet feel a spiritual connection to the plant therefor they are entitled to do so. BTW, just because you bought land that came with a lot of native flora does not mean that ethics do not apply to you. Some are unaware of their impact and if they are aware of the status of the plants they are incredibly unethical. I will add into the exploitation of plants which create Plant Lust. White Sage is a good example of a plant that can not handle the world wide demand yet folks are still claiming how it is a plant that will clear the bad juju, uplift low vibrations and create this lust of I MUST HAVE THIS, I NEED THIS. If you are unaware of the status of White Sage, read the latest Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation by Susan Leopold for United Plant Savers.
I was perusing the net to see if anyone actually created plant products with Trillium erectum commonly known as Beth Root and came across a company based out of Honolulu, Hawaii called HAWAII PHARM who not only is making herbal extracts with Beth Root which is a plant on the USDA list as endangered, threatened and protected in some states. Hawaii Pharm also makes extracts with Actaea racemosa , Black Cohosh a plant listed on the AT RISK list with UpS and they have White Sage extracts as well. The general public may be unaware of the status of the plants but learn of it's medicinal uses and want to work with the plants. We can not expect that those creating herbal products are doing it sustainably and ethically. Please do not support Hawaii Pharm. I have sent them an email and phoned their company but it is recordings after recordings.
USE YOUR VOICE AND SPEAK UP.
We owe it to the flora to protect them and to speak up. Raise questions, stir thought that can hopefully create change. We can only pray that folks see the importance of preservation of plant species that can not sustain further exploitation. Remember that we are not the only ones who use the flora. The flora provides food and shelter for fauna. We see today baskets of Palo Santo sticks and White Sage bundles sold in gift shops, new age, metaphysical shops, big chain stores like Urban Outfitters, Free People, sold online and even at stores like WalMart, and Instagram online stores. Many folks do not even know that Palo Santo is critically endangered according to United Plant Savers / IUCN .
Social media Hashtags describing "sacred white sage and palo santo" are furthering the plant lust #CLEANSEVIBES #ENERGYCLEANSE #SACREDPLANTS and captions like "smudging, cleansing energetically clearing your home of negative stale energies to keep your spiritual hygiene on point, Bad JUJU be gone with ceremonial White Sage" I am quoting someone I found on Instagram that is in Australia where White Sage is not native to. So here we see a global desire for plants that are not growing in their region. Many of these folks are unaware of the impact they are creating. Cultivate your own White Sage or use other aromatic herbs or find sources who are cultivating it like Sage Wind Farms, Oshala Farm. There are many magical herbs that can be used instead of White Sage or Palo Santo for energetic, spiritual work. A couple of my favorite books are Hoodoo Herb & Root Magic by Mrs. Cat of Lucky Mojo Curio & Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs .
Support those who are cultivating these plants that are listed and not wild sourced
For more of my post about conservation visit ECO-WARRIOR I list a few other companies who claim to be "ethical and sustainable" and stores who are supporting them by selling their products.
HERB LUST with Howie Brounstein of Columbines School of Botanical Studies