Medicine from U.S. Wildlands:

An Assessment of Native Plant Species Harvested in the United States for Medicinal Use and Trade and Evaluation of the Conservation and Management Implications

TRAFFIC North America

Prepared by Christopher Robbins 
for The Nature Conservancy  

(July 1999)


Table of Contents


Introduction

North America is a major consumer and producer of medicinal plants offered in myriad over-the-counter (OTC) herbal preparations. At least 175 native North American plants are offered on the non-prescription medicinal market in the United States; more than 140 medicinal herbs native to North America have been documented in herbal products and phytomedicines in foreign countries. The market for medicinal herbs in the United States is worth US$ 600 million and is growing at an annualized rate of more than 100 percent (NBJ 1998; Brevoort 1998). The popularity of herbs and herbal products can be partially attributed to growing global appreciation for and adoption of naturopathic medicine, which is often perceived and publicized as a less-expensive and less-invasive form of treatment than modern medicine. Favorable public opinion of herbs combined with effective marketing of herbal preparations by industry has resulted in explosive consumption of medicinal plants. While commercially important and therapeutically promising, the utilization of medicinal plants raises valid questions about the environmental implications of this practice on wild populations, species and the ecosystems from which they are sourced.

Background

Dozens and possibly hundreds of medicinal plants native to North America are collected in large amounts from wild lands in Canada, Mexico and the United States. The majority of this raw plant material enters commercial trade and is eventually purchased in a variety of forms by consumers in and outside of North America. The potential conservation problems, resource management issues and opportunities for economic development that may arise from this trade are not well understood, as information is lacking or difficult to acquire.

TRAFFIC North America, with assistance from The Nature Conservancy, is examining the collection, commercialization and conservation of medicinal plants in the United States to: gain a better understanding of which native species sourced from U.S. wildlands are potentially at risk from commercial U.S. trade; review the permitting, monitoring and management mechanisms for medicinal plants harvested on federal lands and identify gaps in these systems; and recommend steps for improving long-term conservation of affected species.

Methodology

Input from two major U.S. federal land management agencies, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), was the main source of information used to identify species and assess amounts of medicinal plants harvested from U.S. federal lands. The summary and evaluation of information on permits issued for the collection of medicinal plants from BLM and USFS lands is part of a more comprehensive study by TRAFFIC North America, with assistance from The Nature Conservancy (TNC). TRAFFIC’s study, funded in part by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is focusing on the exploitation, market, conservation and management of native North American medicinal plants. The review of permit information provided: 1) a profile of commercially popular medicinal plants that occur on BLM lands and National Forests; and 2) a preliminary set of observations and recommendations for improving aspects of the permitting process that appear inadequate from the standpoint of monitoring species and volumes of medicinal plants harvested from these federally managed wildlands.

Surveys were distributed to 67 BLM field offices and nine regional USFS offices for information on “fee” permits and amounts sold for approximately 180 medicinal plants that had been previously identified by TRAFFIC in its review of the U.S. market. While “free” or “special use” permits are issued by both agencies for biological, genetic or pharmaceutical research or personal use, these permits do not represent the largest volume of raw plant material sourced from federal wild lands and therefore were excluded from this analysis.

Results

Species Selection for Further Study

TRAFFIC, with assistance from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), carried out an inventory of the U.S. botanicals market to document the identities of native North American plants that are commercially available to consumers as herbs or in herbal products. This review identified approximately 180 species (including species added by reviewers) of various herbs, shrubs and trees that are available in medicinal herbs and/or foods in the United States. The aim of this exercise was to document the most popular and widely used species of medicinal plants, and did not attempt to catalog species used at the regional or local level. An effort was made to remove from the list species of little or no conservation concern, while prioritizing and retaining others for further research and analysis. To this end, four individuals possessing extensive and intimate knowledge of the U.S. botanicals trade were sent the list of 180 medicinal plants identified in U.S. commerce. Reviewers were asked to comment on each species, providing information on the size of their trade, patterns in demand over the past decade, establishment and levels of commercial cultivation, parts of plants traded and evidence of population and species decline. Reviewers’ input was computerized for analysis and prioritization of species for Part III, which will involve a more rigorous review of species’ conservation and commercial status.

Admittedly, the information provided by reviewers is qualitative and the information categories upon which reviewers were requested to comment are subject to a fair degree of interpretation.  However, this phase of research is a preliminary assessment and is intended to remove or retain species through peer-review prioritization process. Upon analysis of reviewers’ comments, 80 species were selected for more detailed review under Part III. The following criteria, taking into account information provided by expert reviewers, were used to determine species meriting further study:  

And


And/Or  

And/Or Eighty (80) species have been selected from the original list reviewed by experts under Part I for a more systematic and scientific assessment of prioritization for conservation attention under Part III (Table 1). Cross-referencing the names of 80 species listed in Table 1 with those reportedly collected from lands managed by BLM or USFS reveals 25 common species  (Table 2). In addition, six native plant species and two genera (Leucothoe, Rhododendron) not previously identified in the market review (Part I), but, according to permit data, are reportedly collected from U.S. federal lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service Service (USFS), have been included as candidates for further review (Table 3). Species in Table 3, with the exception of Galax spp. Vitis spp. and possibly Leucothoe spp. and Rhododendron spp., which are primarily collected for the nursery, floral and furniture trade, are harvested from BLM and USFS lands and have reported or potential medicinal value (Kauffman pers. com. 1999). The literature indicates limited local or indigenous medicinal use of Leucothoe spp. and Rhododendron spp. Therefore, these genera and their potential use as commercial medicinals will be explored further in Part III (Foster and Duke 1990; Mabberley 1997).

A total of 86 native North American species and two genera (Tables 1 and 3) will be subject to further analysis in Part III to determine whether and to what extent commercial trade, as well as other critical issues, pose a legitimate threat to these resources.

Table 1.  Medicinal Plant Species in U.S. Commerce Identified as Priorities by TRAFFIC and The Nature Conservancy for Further Study.
 
Botanical Name Common Name Family
Criteria for Selection of Species
Trade is Medium, Medium/Large or Large Demand Increase in Past 10 Years Population Decline in Past 10 Years Species Decline in Past 10 Years Reviewer Comments
1. ACORUS CALAMUS SWEETFLAG ACORACEAE  X X
2. ALETRIS FARINOSA WHITE-TUBED COLICROOT LILIACEAE  X X X X
3. ANEMOPSIS CALIFORNICA YERBA MANSA SAURURACEAE  X X X X California populations are diminishing in polluted habitat
4. ARALIA CALIFORNICA CALIFORNIA SPIKENARD ARALIACEAE  X X
5. ARALIA NUDICAULIS WILD SARSAPARILLA ARALIACEAE  X X X
6. ARALIA RACEMOSA AMERICAN SPIKENARD ARALIACEAE  X X X X
7. ARCTOSTAPHYLOS UVA-URSI BEARBERRY ERICACEAE  X X X
8. ARISTOLOCHIA SERPENTARIA VIRGINIA SNAKEROOT ARISTOLOCHIACEAE  X X X X Declining throughout natural range
9. ASARUM CANADENSE CANADA WILD GINGER ARISTOLOCHIACEAE  X X
10. ASCLEPIAS TUBEROSA BUTTERFLY MILKWEED ASCLEPIADACEAE  X X X X
11. BAPTISIA TINCTORIA YELLOW WILD INDIGO FABACEAE  X X X X
12. CASTANEA DENTATA AMERICAN CHESTNUT FAGACEAE  X X
13. CAULOPHYLLUM THALICTROIDES BLUE COHOSH BERBERIDACEAE  X X X X Declining throughout natural range in U.S.
14. CEANOTHUS AMERICANUS NEW JERSEY TEA RHAMNACEAE  X X Questionable decline in North Carolina
15. CHAMAELIRIUM LUTEUM DEVIL’S BIT LILIACEAE  X X X X Declining in U.S. Appalachian states
16. CHELONE GLABRA WHITE TURTLEHEAD SCROPHULARIACEAE  X X
17. CHIMAPHILA MACULATA SPOTTED WINTERGREEN PYROLACEAE  X X X X
18. CHIMAPHILA UMBELLATA COMMON WINTERGREEN PYROLACEAE X X X X
19. CHIONANTUS VIRGINICUS FRINGE TREE OLEACEAE X X X X
20. CIMICIFUGA RACEMOSA BLACK BUGBANE RANUNCULACEAE X X X X Significant increase in demand
21. COLLINSONIA CANADENSIS CANADA HORSE BALM LAMIACEAE X X X X
22. CYPRIPEDIUM PUBESCENS LARGE YELLOW LADY’S SLIPPER  ORCHIDACEAE X X X X Documented population increase; ornamentals endangered in wild; declining throughout range in U.S.
23. DIONAEA MUSCIPULA VENUS’ FLY TRAP DROSERACEAE  X X X X
24. DIOSCOREA VILLOSA YELLOW YAM DIOSCOREACEAE  X X X X
25. ECHINACEA ANGUSTIFOLIA NARROW-LEAVED PURPLE CONEFLOWER ASTERACEAE X X X X
26. ECHINACEA PALLIDA PALE-PURPLE CONEFLOWER ASTERACEAE X X X X
27. EPIGAEA REPENS TRAILING ARBUTUS ERICACEAE  X X
28. ERIODICTYON CALIFORNICUM CALIFORNIA YERBA-SANTA HYDROPHYLLACEAE X X X X Populations in South California potentially at risk
29. EUPHORBIA IPECACUANHAE WILD IPECAC EUPHORIBIACEAE X X
30. FRANGULA PURSHIANA CASCARA BUCK THORN RHAMNACEAE X X X X
31. GAULTHERIA PROCUMBENS TEABERRY ERICACEAE X X Local wild populations experienced decline
32. GELSEMIUM SEMPERVIRENS YELLOW JESSAMINE LOGANIACEAE X X Local wild populations experienced decline
33. GENTIANA VILLOSA STRIPED GENTIAN GENTIANACEAE  X X
34. GERANIUM MACULATUM WILD CRANE’S BILL GERANIACEAE X X X X
35. HAMAMELIS VIRGINIANA (=VERNALIS) AMERICAN WITCH-HAZEL HAMAMELIDACEAE X X X X
36. HYDRANGEA ARBORESCENS WILD HYDRANGEA HYDRANGEACEAE X X
37. HYDRASTIS CANADENSIS GOLDENSEAL RANUNCULACEAE X X X X
38. IRIS VERSICOLOR BLUEFLAG IRIDACEAE  X X
39. JEFFERSONIA DIPHYLLA TWINLEAF BERBERIDACEAE X X
40. JUGLANS CINEREA BUTTERNUT JUGLANDACEAE  X X
41. JUGLANS NIGRA BLACK WALNUT JUGLANDACEAE  X X X X Characterized as weed by one reviewer
42. LIGUSTICUM PORTERI PORTER LOVAGE/OSHA APIACEAE X X X X
43. LOBELIA INFLATA INDIAN TOBACCO CAMPANULACEAE  X X X Characterized as weed by one reviewer
44. LOMATIUM DISSECTUM FERN-LEAVED DESERT PARSLEY APIACEAE X X X X
45. LYCOPODIUM CLAVATUM RUNNING PINE LYCOPODIACEAE X X
46. MAHONIA AQUIFOLIUM OREGON GRAPE BERBERIDACEAE X X X X Characterized as weed by one reviewer
47. MAHONIA NERVOSA OREGON GRAPE BERBERIDACEAE  X X X X
48. MAHONIA REPENS CREEPING OREGON GRAPE BERBERIDACEAE  Added by reviewer for further study
49. MITCHELLA REPENS PARTRIDGE BERRY RUBIACEAE  X X X X
50. MONOTROPA UNIFLORA INDIAN PIPE MONOTROPACEAE X X
51. OPLOPANAX HORRIDUS DEVIL’S CLUB ARALIACEAE X X X X
52. PANAX QUINQUEFOLIUS AMERICAN GINSENG ARALIACEAE X X X X
53. PODOPHYLLUM PELTATUM MAY APPLE BERBERIDACEAE X X X X
54. POLYGALA SENEGA SENECA SNAKEROOT POLYGALACEAE  X X X X Decliningin Saskatchewan; Canada; cultivated in Japan
55. POLYGONATUM BIFLORUM COMMON SOLOMON’S SEAL LILIACEAE X X X X
56. PRUNUS SEROTINA WILD BLACK CHERRY ROSACEAE  X X X
57. PRUNUS VIRGINIANA CHOKE CHERRY ROSACEAE  X X X
58. PTEROCAULON VIRGATUM WAND BLACKROOT ASTERACEAE X X X X
59. QUERCUS ALBA WHITE OAK FAGACEAE  X X X Declining throughout entire U.S. range
60. SALVIA APIANA WHITE SAGE LAMIACEAE  X X X X
61. SAMBUCCUS CANADENSIS COMMON ELDERBERRY CAPRIFOLIACEAE X X X X
62. SANGUINARIA CANADENSIS BLOODROOT PAPAVERACEAE X X X X Local decline in populations
63. SASSAFRAS ALBIDUM SASSAFRAS LAURACEAE  X X X Declining throughout entire U.S. range
64. SCROPHULARIA MARILANDICA CARPENTER’S SQUARE FIGWORT SCROPHULARIACEAE X X
65. SCUTELLARIA LATERIFLORA MAD DOG SKULLCAP LAMIACEAE X X X X
66. SERENOA REPENS SAW PALMETTO ARECACEAE  X X X X Species may be declining locally
67. SPIGELIA MARILANDICA WOODLAND PINKROOT LOGANIACEAE X X
68. STILLINGIA SYLVATICA  QUEEN’S DELIGHT EUPHORBIACEAE X X X X
69. THUJA OCCIDENTALIS NORTHERN WHITE CEDAR CUPRESSACEAE X X X X
70. TORREYA CALIFORNICA CALIFORNIA TORREYA TAXACEAE X X
71. TRILLIUM ERECTUM ILL-SCENT TRILLIUM; BETH/BIRTH ROOT LILIACEAE X X X X
72. ULMUS RUBRA SLIPPERY ELM ULMACEAE  X X X X
73. VACCINIUM MACROCARPON LARGE CRANBERRY ERICACEAE X X X X Species decline is local
74. VACCINIUM OVATUM EVERGREEN BLUEBERRY ERICACEAE  X X X
75. VACCINIUM OXYCOCCOS SMALLCRANBERRY ERICACEAE X X X X Species decline is local
76. VALERIANA SITCHENSIS SITKA VALERIAN VALERIANACEAE X X
77. VERONICASTRUM VIRGINICUM CULVER’S ROOT SCROPHULARIACEAE X X
78. VIBURNUM PRUNIFOLIUM SMOOTH BLACK HAW CAPRIFOLIACEAE X X X X
79. XANTHORHIZA SIMPLICISSIMA (SHRUBBY) YELLOW-ROOT RANUNCULACEAE X X
80. YUCCA SCHIDIGERA MOJAVE YUCCA AGAVACEAE  X X X X
Source: TRAFFIC North America and The Nature Conservancy

- Reviewers included: Richard A. (Richo) Cech, James A. Duke, Steven Foster and Gregory Tilford

Table 2. Species identified as priorities for further study and collected from federal lands managed by BLM and or USFS from 1995-1997.
 

Scientific Name Common, Trade Name Family  Federal Agency 
Reporting Collection
Alertis farinosa White-tubed colicroot; 
star root; star grass
Liliaceae USFS
Aralia racemosa American spikenard Araliaceae USFS
Aristolochia serpentaria Virginia snakeroot Aristolochiaceae USFS
Asarum canadense Canada wild ginger Aristolochiaceae USFS
Baptisia tinctoria Yellow wild-indigo Fabaceae USFS
Caulophyllum thalictroides Blue cohosh Berberidaceae USFS
Cimifuga racemosa Black cohosh/bugbane Ranunculaceae USFS
Dioscorea villosa Yellow yam Dioscoreaceae USFS
Geranium maculatum Wild crane’s-bill Geraniaceae USFS
Hydrastis canadensis Goldenseal Ranunculaceae USFS
Hamamelis virginiana American witch-hazel; beadwood Hamamelidaceae USFS
Jeffersonia diphylla Twinleaf Berberidaceae USFS
Juglans nigra Black walnut Juglandaceae USFS
Lobelia inflata Indian-tobacco Campanulaceae USFS
Lycopodium clavatum Running pine Lycopodiaceae USFS
Mahonia nervosa  Oregon grape Berberidaceae BLM
Mitchella repens Partridge-berry Rubiaceae USFS
Panax quinquefolius American ginseng Araliaceae USFS
Podophyllum peltatum May apple Berberidaceae USFS
Polygonatum biflorum Common solomon’s-seal Liliaeceae USFS
Prunus serotina Wild black cherry Rosaceae USFS
Quercus alba White oak Fagaceae USFS
Sanguinaria canadensis Bloodroot Paperveraceae USFS
Sereona repens  Saw palmetto Arecaceae USFS
Zanthorriza (=Xanthorhiza) 
simplicissima
Yellow root Ranunculaceae USFS
Source: Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service
 

Table 3.  Taxa of reported or potential medicinal value not previously identified for further study but collected from federal lands managed by BLM or USFS from 1995-97.
 

Scientific Name Common Trade Name Family Federal Agency 
Reporting Collection
Allium tricoccum Ramp; wild leek Liliaceae USFS
Arctostaphylos pungens Pointleaf manzanita Ericaceae BLM
Aristolochia tomentosa Dutchman’s-pipe; smokevine Aristolochiaceae USFS
Artemisia filifolia Sand sagebrush Asteraceae BLM
Eriodictylon angustifolia Narrowleaf yerbasanta Hydrophyllaceae BLM
Galax spp.* Diapensiaceae USFS
Leucothoe spp.* Dog hobble; fetter bush Ericaceae USFS
Rhamnus purshiana Cascara buck-thorn Rhamnaceae BLM
Rhododendron spp.* Mountain laurel Ericaceae USFS
Trilisa odoratissima Deer’s tongue Asteraceae USFS
Vitis spp.* Grape (vine) Vitaceae USFS
Source: Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service
* - Primary use is likely for non-medicinal purposes

Expert reviewers described other factors that they believe should be considered in an evaluation of the extent and biological significance of trade in native North American medicinal plants. For instance, observations were made concerning the overlap in species traded as medicinals and ornamental garden plants (e.g., wildflowers) and the degree to which the horticultural trade contributes to species exploitation (Duke in litt. 1998). The same reviewer alluded to the introduction and colonization of exotic species as a growing threat to native woodland medicinal plants.

A genuine concern about the ancillary harvest of endemic species related to target species in trade was raised. For instance, this problem involves Echinacea, whereby the Echinacea angustifolia trade is reportedly supplied with misidentified Echinacea species, including E. pallida, E. atrorubens, E. simulata, E. paradox and possibly E. sanguinea. The problems of species substitution and adulteration may also be the case for Cimicifuga racemosa (as C. americana), Lomatium dissectum (as dozens of other Lomatium spp. found in the Pacific Northwest), Scutellaria lateriflora (as other blue-flowered Scutellaria species) and Achillea millefolium (as the indigenous A. lanulosa) (Foster in litt. 1998). Habitat alteration and conversion was another concern mentioned by reviewers that poses a significant threat to wild populations and species of medicinal plants.

The justifiable concerns raised by reviewers will be addressed in the next phase of work (III) when the issues and threats facing medicinal plants, their wild populations and the ecosystems from which they are gathered will be examined more closely.  To that end, information on species biology, ecology, distribution, conservation and population status, supply/demand, availability, cultivation, changes in price will be gathered from field botanists, commercial vendors and recent price lists during Part III to determine whether and to what extent medicinal plant species are susceptible to and affected by overexploitation, among other threats.

Plant Species of Medicinal Interest from Public Lands

Economic opportunities and activities surrounding the utilization of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) from public lands in the United States comprise an important industry to many rural communities and collectors. Federal agencies that manage public lands for these resources also stand to gain financially. In 1996, the amount of revenue generated by sales of permits for NTFPs collected from lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in 11 western states (excluding Alaska) was $227,800. Approximately $146,400 in revenue was generated from the sale of “fee” permits issued for the collection of special forest products in southern National Forests (Region 8) (Cobb 1998).

Among the largest beneficiaries are corporate entities, which obtain a wide variety of raw plant materials, including medicinal plants, from public lands for commercial resale. Examples include the procurement of pine trees for the extraction of a common compound in pine that is used in the manufacture of a cholesterol-lowering food and the collection of ladies’ tresses orchid (Spiranthes diluvialis) for use in commercial essences (USFS 1998). The commercial collection of NTFPs is largely under-monitored, although some level of reporting occurs in the field depending on the economic significance of NTFPs to specific regions.

TRAFFIC surveyed two U.S. federal land management agencies, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to ascertain the amount of material or number of commercial permits sold for as many of the 180 species of medicinal plants identified in its review of the U.S. market (Appendix I). TRAFFIC received more responses from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) than the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).  However, data compiled and submitted by USFS was generally more detailed and comprehensive than BLM’s submission of information. This is partly attributed to the comparatively greater botanical diversity and economic value of medicinal plants growing in deciduous forests of the eastern United States where USFS manages the preponderance of federal land. By focusing on medicinal plants, an economically important group of special forest products, it is hoped that this review will provide some indication as to the level of interest in or demand for certain medicinal plants collected from lands managed by BLM and USFS. Moreover, this study aims to reveal gaps in the reporting, monitoring and management of medicinal plants so that follow-up research and appropriate steps can be identified and taken to prevent or reverse unsustainable collection, while ensuring future supplies of botanicals.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

A checklist of medicinal plant species prepared by TRAFFIC was distributed to 67 field offices of the Bureau for Land Management (BLM). Forty (60 percent) BLM field or district offices responded. Written responses were received from BLM in the following Western states: California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. A review of information submitted by BLM field offices indicates that collection permits were issued during the period 1995-97 for: a) medicinal plant species in TRAFFIC’s checklist; and b) plant species not listed in the checklist. It is believed that the species in the latter group were reported by BLM to TRAFFIC because they have known medicinal and/or culinary value and are likely harvested for these reasons. A third category of plants for which permits were reportedly issued by or requested from BLM includes various plants, or parts of plants, gathered for genetic and pharmaceutical research, nursery stock, landscaping, firewood or decoration. For example, the BLM District Office in Las Vegas, Nevada had received from a botanical garden two requests for collecting small amounts of non-specific plants for screening of medicinal properties.

BLM offices providing information on species and amounts of medicinal plants collected are: Montrose (Uncompahgne) Field Office, Colorado; Dixie Resource Area, Utah; Eugene District Office, Oregon; and Coos Bay Resource Area, Oregon. The latter three provided the majority of information to TRAFFIC. The BLM Field Office in Elko, Nevada indicated that several of the species in TRAFFIC’s list are collected in its district, but was unable to provide further information because collections are unauthorized and therefore undocumented. The Coos Bay BLM District Office in Oregon marked a number of species found in its district that are of commercial interest to collectors but did not provide any information on permits issued or amounts sold.

Medicinal plants (plants known to be valued and used medicinally) for which permits were sold by BLM and the amount of material authorized for collection under each permit sold or issued are summarized in Table 4. There is a fairly high probability that the reported amount of plant material approved for collection of specified species under BLM permits differs from, and may be lower than, the actual amount of material collected for species on BLM lands. This is based on the assumption that a portion of individuals gathering wild plants do so without obtaining the necessary permits. However, it is also conceivable that the amount of material actually collected for a plant falls short of the amount approved under a permit, as manual checking of material harvest is not carried out on a routine basis.

The information summarized in Table 4 indicates that a total of nine plant species valued for medicine were targeted by collectors on lands managed by BLM. Six species had been previously identified by TRAFFIC on the U.S. herb market, while three previously unidentified species were also documented from permits issued to prospective collectors. While all species have known medicinal value and were likely collected for such purpose, at least two species (Juniperus monosperma, Populus tremuloides) were likely sought for greenery (decoration) or fuelwood, as is indicated by the units (boughs, cords) used to record amounts authorized for collection.

Table 4. Species of medicinal plants collected on BLM lands for 1995-1997
 
Species1 in TRAFFIC's Checklist
Scientific Name Common Name Family
 Permits Issued or Amount Sold
     
1995
1996
1997
Ephedra viridis Green mormon-tea Ephedraceae 2,000 lb. 5,000 lb. 5,000lb.
Juniperus monosperma One-seeded juniper Cupressaceae 200 cords 5,000lb. (boughs) 2,000 lb. (berries) 200 cords 6,720 lb. (boughs) 5,000 lb.(berries) 200 cords 6,720 lb. (boughs) 5,000 lb. (berries)
Larrea tridentata Creosote bush Zygophyllaceae 2,000 lb. 5,000 lb. 3,000lb.
Mahonia nervosa  Oregon grape Berberidaceae 70 lb. 285 lb. 335 lb.
Populus tremuloides Quaking aspen Salicaceae 35,000 cords 41,000 cords 43,000cords
Rhamnus purshiana Cascara buck-thorn Rhamnaceae 2,650 lb. 1,175 lb. 500lb.
Species1 not in TRAFFIC's chekclist but reported as collected by BLM
Arctostaphylos pungens Pointleaf manzanita Ericaceae 2,000 lb. - 1,000lb.
Artemisia filifolia Sand sagebrush Asteraceae - - 1,000 lb. 
Eriodictylon angustifolia Narrowleaf yerbasanta Hydrophyllaceae 2,000lb. 5,000 lb. 3,000 lb.
Edibles and Medicinals 70 lb. 40 lb. 40 lb.
Source: Bureau of Land Management

NOTES:

1 While all species have reported medicinal utility, it could not be ascertained from permit information whether species were specifically sought for medicinal use

BLM field offices in Montrose (Uncompahgne), Colorado and Coos Bay Resource Area, Oregon reported that the following medicinal plant species in TRAFFIC’s checklist are collected but no specific information on amounts collected or permits issued were provided: Achillea millefolium (Common yarrow) Asteraceae;  Aralia californica (California spikenard) Araliaceae; Artemisia dracunculus (Dragon wormwood) Asteraceae; Ephedra antisyphilitica (Mormon tea), Ephedraceae;  Prunus emarginata (Bitter cherry) Rosaceae; Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry) Rosaceae; Sambucus canadensis (Common elderberry) Caprifoliaceae; Sambucus cerulea (Blue elderberry) Caprifoliaceae; Grindelia squarrosa (Broadleaf gumweed) Asteraceae; Chimaphila umbellata (Common wintergreen) Pyrolaceae; Oplopanax horridus (Devil’s-club) Araliaceae; Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen blueberry) Ericaceae.

United States Forest Service

Medicinal plant checklists were mailed to nine U.S. Forest Service regional offices for information on permits issued or sold in 1995, 1996 and 1997 for the collection of approximately 180 species. Regional USFS offices were requested to elicit information from National Forests and individual Ranger Districts, of which there are more than 600 nationwide. Two USFS regions, Regions 8 and 9, which together comprise 33 states in the eastern and southern United States, were the only regions that provided TRAFFIC with information from National Forests within their jurisdiction. TRAFFIC summarized species information based on the issuance of “fee” or “charge” permits only, which generally represent plants intended for commercial resale. “Special use” and “free” permits, which typically involve small-scale collections of plants for personal use or research purposes, are not analyzed in any great detail given the low volumes of plant material collected.

The following National Forests in Region 9 reviewed the checklist and submitted written responses: Chequamegon National Forest (Wisconsin), Hoosier National Forest (Indiana), Monongahela National Forest (West Virginia), and Wayne National Forest (Ohio). Forest Districts in the Chequamegon National Forest, of which there are three, reportedly issued no special use permits for the collection of medicinal plants specified in the checklist. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) has been poached in the Forest, while other medicinal plants are gathered by the public for personal use (Sheehan in litt. 1998). The Treaty Rights tribes have access to medicinal plants in the Chequamegon National Forest under a special arrangement with the federal government.

Approximately 19 National Forests in 11 southern states in Region 8 responded to TRAFFIC’s request for information on medicinal plant permit sales, although not every National Forest reported pertinent or substantive information. The following National Forests submitted relevant and useful information: Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest (Georgia), Cherokee National Forest (Tennessee), Daniel Boone National Forest (Kentucky), George Washington and Jefferson National Forest (Virginia), Ocala National Forest (Florida), Osceola National Forest (Florida), Ozark-St. Francis National Forest (Arkansas), Nantahala National Forest (North Carolina), and Pisgah National Forest (North Carolina).

While there were no reported permit sales in the Kistatchie National Forest (Louisiana) for specified medicinal plants in TRAFFIC’s checklist from 1995-97, free use permits were issued for sassafras (Sassafras album) leaves, honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) and grapevine (Vitis spp.) during this period. No permits were reportedly sold for specific medicinal plants in any of the National Forests (Bienville, Delta, De Soto, Homochitto, Holly Springs, Tombigbee) in Mississippi from 1995-97, though permits were issued for a variety of non-timber forest products, including magnolia (Magnolia spp.) leaves, honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.) plants, cane (Arundinaria spp.) plants and pine kindling. The Ouachita National Forest (Arkansas) reported no permit sales for specific medicinal plants in 1995, 1996 or 1997, but issued permits for moss in 1995 and permits for a number of other forest products such as cedar (Juniperus spp.) posts, hay (Poaceae), pine (Pinus spp.) knots, dogwood (Cornus spp.) and Xmas trees from 1995-97. The National Forests in Alabama, particularly the Shoal Creek Ranger District, reported permits issued for kudzu collection in 1996 and 1997.

As is the case for plants collected on BLM lands, most of the plants included in Table 6 are known to be traded as medicinal herbs or have reported medicinal use or value. A total of 40 species for which permits had been issued or sold by USFS had been previously identified on the U.S. market and circulated in the form of a checklist to BLM and USFS for feedback. The species, genera and groups of plants not previously identified by TRAFFIC for circulation and comment to BLM and USFS are defined as “Species Not in TRAFFIC’s Checklist but Reported as Collected by USFS.”  While several of these may in fact be collected and traded as medicinal herbs, much less is known about the medicinal utility of these plants. It is likely that a few (Galax spp., Kalmia latifolia, Leucothoe spp., Rhodondedron spp. and Vitis spp.,) are collected primarily for non-medicinal purposes. Of this latter group, 13 plants are identifiable to the species or genus level, while the others fall into one of three general plant categories (cane, fern, moss) or a catch-all category (non-specified roots, leaves, herbs or medicinal herbs). Permits issued for special forest products that are clearly not collected for medicine were not quantified or analyzed in this report.

It is virtually impossible to quantify harvest levels of medicinal plants collected in National Forests owing to the lack of available information on the number of plants or actual amount of plant material sourced from these areas. A more accurate measure of collection would be reporting and monitoring the actual amount of plant material collected.  In lieu of harvest data, however, permit information, such as number of permits issued and/or amount of plant material approved for collection under each permit, can be used as a general indicator of popularity or demand for certain species.  The number of permits issued by USFS from 1995-97 for the collection of the most popular plants of known, reported or unconfirmed (yet potential) medicinal value in National Forests throughout the eastern and southern United States is displayed in Table 5.  Species for which fewer than 50 permits were issued are listed in Table 6.

The plants and plant groups itemized in Tables 5 and 6 represent those species for which “fee” permits have been issued to collectors who intend to resell plants for profit. With the exception of Galax spp., Kalmia latifolia, moss, Vitis spp. and possibly Rhododendron spp. and Leucothoe spp., which are also collected for the nursery and floral products trade, most plants in Table 5 are valued botanicals for which there are well-established local, domestic and overseas markets.

It is interesting to note that a few National Forests and specific ranger districts within National Forests have taken steps to reduce potentially unsustainable collection of some high-value medicinal plants from the wild. These regulatory measures may be in response to methods, intensities or levels of collection that may be incompatible with the sustainability or even survival of sensitive species. Biological or ecological constraints and environmental threats (e.g., habitat alteration, invasive species) may exacerbate conservation concerns for species already impacted by collecting. The following is a summary of actions taken by various National Forests to protect high-demand, vulnerable and/or sensitive species prone to exploitation.

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) are two such plants for which permits are no longer issued in the Hoosier National Forest in Indiana. Biologists recently evaluated the status of American ginseng in the Hoosier and determined that its population within the National Forest cannot be sustained at current harvest levels. The large number of permits issued (Table 6) by the Hoosier for ginseng from 1995-97 indicates significant demand for both species. According to surveyed permittees, there is less wild ginseng in the Hoosier National Forest now than in previous years. Furthermore, a field survey of 400 acres in the Forest revealed three ginseng plants (Day in litt. 1997). The Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee no longer allows the commercial collection of witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) and the Unaka Ranger district within in the Cherokee no longer issues permits for ginseng, moss, pink-lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule), Trillium, and hazelnut (Corylus americana). Further harvest restrictions apply to ginseng, Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum), fire pink (Silene virginica), pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), branch lettuce (Saxifraga pensylvanica) and ramp (Allium tricoccum). Ginseng diggers are also subject to harvest rules in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia; individual ranger districts have reported several violations and incidents involving illegal or questionable ginseng harvest in recent years.

Table 5.  Popular Species of Medicinal Herbs or Foods Sought from National Forests for 1995-97.
 

Species 1995 
Permits 
1996 
Permits
1997
permits
Total Source Identified 
as Medicinal
American ginseng 1,483 2,272 1,660 5,415 M; F/D; C
Goldenseal 254  781 512 1,547 M; F/D; C
Ramps; Wild leeks 351 345 362 1,058 F/D; I
Moss  135 125 148 408 U
Bloodroot 35 168 155 358 M; F/D; C
Rhododendron 82 75 113 270 F/D; M
Mountain laurel 65 58 79 202 F/D; M
Blue cohosh 3 42 43 88 M; F/D; C
Black cohosh; bugbane 4 33  50 87 M; F/D; C
Yellow root 12 55 17 84 M; F/D
Dutchman’s-pipe; Smokevine 19 18 30 67 F/D
Running pine; club moss - 29 30 59 M; F/D; C
Source: U.S. Forest Service
 

Source Identified as Medicinal (Key): C (trade catalogs); F/D (Foster, S. and Duke, J. 1990. Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants. Peterson Field Guide, Hougton Mifflin Company, New York, USA); I (The Internet); M (Mabberley, D.J. 1997.  The Plant Book.  Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom); U (Unconfirmed, possible medicinal).

Table 6. Species of medicinal plants collected from National Forests in Regions 8 and 9 of the U.S. Forest Service for 1995-1997
 
Species in Traffic Checklist
Scientific Name Common Name Family
Permits Issued
 
1995
1996
1997
Adiantum pedatum Northern maiden-hair fern Pteridaceae 1 permit a 2 permitsa
Alertis farinosa White-tubed colicroot; star root; star grass Liliaceae 2 permits (1,000 lb.) n 2 permits (1,000 lb.) n
Aralia racemosa American spikenard Araliaceae 1 permit (500 lb.) n
Aristolochia serpentaria Virginia snakeroot Aristolochiaceae 19 permitsa 20 permits a 6 permits a
Asarum canadense Canada wild ginger Aristolochiaceae 25 permits e 6 permits e
Asimina triloba Pawpaw Annonaceae 1 permit a
Baptisia tinctoria Yellow wild-indigo Fabaceae 2 permits (200 lb.) 
3 permits (1,650 lb.) b
Caulophyllum thalictroides Blue cohosh Berberidaceae 3 permits a 4 permits a
38 permitse
2 permits  a
41 permits e
Cimifuga racemosa Black cohosh/
bugbane
Ranunculaceae 3 permits (500lb.)g
1 permit (1;500 pieces) 
1 permita
30 permitse

1 permit (200 lb.)g

1 permit (1,500 pieces) 
46 permitse
1 permit (300lb.)g

2 permits (1,700 lb.; 1,500 pieces)

1 permit (100 lb.)n
Conyza canadensis Canada horseweed Asteraceae 2 permits a
Dioscorea villosa Yellow yam Dioscoreaceae 8 permits a 5 permits a 1 permit a
Eupatorium perfoliatum Common boneset Asteraceae 1 permit a 2 permits a 1 permit a
Eupatorium purpureum Sweet joe-pye weed Asteraceae 1 permit a 1 permit a 2 permits a
Fraxinus americana White ash Oleaceae 316 mbf c 387 mbf c 409 mbf c
Geranium maculatum Wild crane’s-bill Geraniaceae 2 permits 2 permits
Hydrastis canadensis Goldenseal Ranunculaceae 254 permitsa 505 permitsa
274 permits (274 lb.)e

2 permits (66 gallons) i
317 permits a
193 permits  e

2 permits (10 lb.; 33 gallons) i
Hamamelis virginiana American witch-hazel; beadwood Hamamelidaceae 4 permits (2,000 lb.)n 1 permita 2 permits (1 ton - leaves and roots)j
2 permits (1,000 lb.)n
Jeffersonia diphylla Twinleaf Berberidaceae 1 permita
1 permit e
Juglans nigra Black walnut Juglandaceae 1-2 treesc
Lactuca canadensis Canada lettuce Asteraceae 17 permitsa 16 permitsa 11 permitsa
Lactuca floridana var. villosa Wild lettuce Asteraceae 2 permitsa
Lindera benzoin  Spicebush Lauraceae 1 permit a
Lobelia inflata Indian-tobacco Campanulaceae 1 permit a 3 permits a 3 permitsa
Lycopodium clavatum Running pine Lycopodiaceae 29 permits (222 -100lb. feed bags)c 30 permits (269 - 100 lb.feed bags)c
Mitchella repens Partridge-berry Rubiaceae 2 permitsa 4 permitsa
Panax quinquefolius American ginseng Araliaceae 249 permitsa
175 permits (60 lb.)e

54 permits (98 lb.)g

121 permits (85 bushels; 225 lb.)i

85 permits (517 lb.)j

7 permits (7 lb.) l

87 permits (86 lb.)n

403 permits (403 lb.)b

302 permits (922 lb.)d
519 permitsa
72 permitsc

310 permits (100 lb.)e

118 permits (234 lb.)g

131 permits (230 bushels; 884 lb.)i

28 permits (28 bushels)5

160 permits (155 lb.)j

6 permits(6 lb.) l

20 permits (328 lb.)n

602 permits (602 lb.)b

306 permits (924 lb.)d
318 permitsa
67 permitsc

194 permitse

119 permits (208 lb.)g

170 permits (2;131 gallons; 745 lb.;8 bushels)i

143 permits (9500 lb.??)j

10 permits (10 lb.)l

83 permits (95 lb.)n

195 permits (199 lb.) b

361 permits (488 lb.) d
Pinus strobus Eastern white pine Pinaceae <100 mbf c
1 permit(6;000 lb. of boughs)i
<100 mbf c
1 permit (6;000 lb. of boughs)i
<100 mbfc
1 permit (6;000 lb. of boughs)i
Podophyllum peltatum May apple Berberidaceae 4 permits a 8 permits a 9 permitsa
9 permitse
Polygonatum biflorum Common solomon’s-seal Liliaeceae 2 permitsa 4 permitsa 3 permitsa
Populus tremuloides Quaking aspen Salicaceae 1-2 treesc
Prunus serotina Wild black cherry Rosaceae 3,487 mbf c 2,828 mbfc 3,035 mbf c
Quercus alba White oak Fagaceae 523 mbfc 592 mbfc 313 mbfc
Quercus rubra Northern red oak Fagaceae 4,471 mbf c 6,692 mbf c 5,707 mbfc
Rhus glabra Smooth sumac Anacardiaceae 2 permitsa 2 permitsa
Sanguinaria canadensis Bloodroot Paperveraceae 35 permitsa 105 permitsa
62 permitse

1 permit (330 gallons)i,5
97 permitsa
57 permitse

1 permit (33 gallons)i,5
Sanicula marilandica Black snake-root Apiaceae 5 permitse
1 permit (330 gallons)i,5
26 permits i,5
Sassafras albidum Sassafras Lauraceae 4 permitsa
600 piecesd
2 permitsa
1,200 piecesd
6 permitsa
1 permite
Sereona repens  Saw palmetto Arecaceae 1 permit (4 bushels)h 4 permits(6,400 lb.)f
5 permits (4,000 lb.)h
2 permits (3,200 lb.)f
2 permits (2,000 lb.)h
Zanthorriza (=Xanthorhiza) simplicissima Yellow root Ranunculaceae 11 permits (66 lb. gn)i
1 permit (100 lb.)j
26 permits (3,729 gallons;54 lb. gn)i
28 permits (28 bushels)i,5

1 permit (700 lb.)b
11 permits (132 gallons; 10 lb.; 36 lb. gn)i
1 permit (33 gallons)i,5

1 permit (100 lb.)j

4 permits (100 lb.)b
Zanthoxylum americanum Northern prickley ash Rutaceae 2 permitsa
Species2 not in TRAFFIC's Checklist but reported as collected by USFS
Allium tricoccum3
Ramp; wild leek
Liliaceae 10 permits (20 pokes)l
318 permits (1,570 lb.; 4 bushels)n

33 permits (33 bushels)b
3 permits (12 pokes)l
314 permits (1,545 lb.; 5 bushels)n

31 permits (27 bushels)b
17 permits (68 pokes)l
338 permits(23 bushels; 1,660 lb.)n

24 permits (62 bushels)b
Aristolochia tomentosa Dutchman’s-pipe; smokevine Aristolochiaceae 6 permits (1,000 lb.; 60 pieces) 
3 permits (1,000 lb.)n

10 permits (291 lb.)b
5 permits (2,357 lb.) 
1 permit (400 lb.)n

12 permit (319 lb.)b
6 permits (3,228 lb.) 
7 permits (2,400 lb.)n

17 permits (197 lb.)b
Betula spp. Birch Betulaceae 1 permit (1;000lb./twigs)j 1 permit(10 lb.)j
Cane   1  permit (1 lot)i 2 permits (2 lots)i
Ferns 1 permit (100 pieces)j
4 permits (100 plants) 

2 permits (12 plants)n

19 permits (606 plants)b
2 permits(60 plants)l
10 permits (640 plants)b
3 permits (90 plants)l
5 permits (290 plants)b
Galax spp. Diapensiaceae 10 permits (8;560 pieces)j
432 permits (101 tons)n

17 permits (6 tons; 20 pieces)b
9 permits (17;050 pieces)j
596 permits (141 tons)n

25 permits (5 tons; 15 pieces)b
3 permits (24 each/1;000)j
1 permit(200 lb.)l

3 permits (900 lb.) 

530 permits (139 tons)n

11 permits (4 tons; 15 pieces)b
Juglans spp. Walnut Juglandaceae 1 permit (2 bushels)b 2 permits (2 bushels/walnuts)b
Kalmia latifolia Mountain laurel Ericaceae 1 permit (500 branches)g
23 permits (5;400 lb.) 

11 permits (160 plants; 750 roots)5

25 permits (7 tons; 22 cords; 5300 sticks)n

5 permits (20 plants; 8000 posts)b
1 permit (500 branches)g
3 permits (100 pieces;2;500 lb. of sticks) 

5 permits (2;500 lb. of leaves) 

7 permits(130 plants; 300 roots)5

42 permits (10 tons; 72 cords of sticks;700 individual sticks)n
5 permits (2;200 lb.) 
22 permits (915 plants)5

52 permits (11 tons; 92 cords of sticks; 800 sticks;48 plants)n

1 permit (15 pieces)b
Leucothoe spp. Dog hobble; fetter bush Ericaceae 6 permits (3;000 lb.)n 8 permits (4;000 lb.)n 1 permit (500 lb.)n
Moss4 1 permit (10 bushels)g
6 permits (1500 lb.)j

2 permitsk

25 permits (6;133 lb.)n

101 permits (10 tons)b
2 permits (25 bushels)g
7 permits (350 lb.)i

6 permits(1556 lb.)j

31 permits (8; 233 lb.)n

79 permits (8tons)b
1 permit (15 bushels)g
15 permits (3;993 lb.)j

1 permit (1;250 lb.)l

16 permits (4;614 lb.)n

115 permits (17 tons)b
Myrica spp. Myrtle Myricaceae 4 permits (6;770 pieces)f 1 permit (260pieces)h
Pueraria lobata Kudzu  Fabaceae 1 permit (500 lb.)j
1 permit m
1 permit m
Quercus spp. Oak Fagaceae 1 permit (2 bushels)b
Pinus spp. Pine (needles) Pinaceae 1 permit (10 boughs)g
Rhododendron spp. Ericaceae 67 permits (7;645 pieces)j
11 permits160 plants; 750 roots)l,5

4 permits (36 plants; 500 posts)b
67 permits (5;290 pieces)j
7 permits (130 plants; 300 roots)l,5

1 permit (500 posts)b
87 permits (7;742 pieces)j
22 permits( 915 plants)l,5

2 permits (2 bushels)n

2 permits (48 plants)b
Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary Lamiaceae 1 permit (2;500 pieces)h
Non-specified roots; leaves;  herbs; or medicinal herbs 2 permits(2;000 pieces)j
2 permits (1 bushel; 2 bunches)n

4 permits (30 lb.)b
41 permits (4;100 lb.)i
1 permit (1 lb.)b
52 permits (5;200 lb.)i
2 permits (66 gallons)i

1 permit (100 lb.)n

2 permits (2 lb.)b
Trilisa odoratissima Deer’s tongue Asteraceae 8 permits (800 lb.)f 2 permits (200 lb.)f 2 permits (200 lb.)f
Vitis spp. Grape (vine) Vitaceae 6 permits (5;000 ft.; 1 pu trucks)i
30 permits (20;800 lb.)j

1 permit (600 lb.)l

1 permit (500lb.)n
1 permit (1000 ft)g
7 permits (3;000 ft.; 12 putrucks)i

27 permits (9;000 lb.; 5257 pieces)j

2 permits(1;000 lb.)n

1 permit (1 piece)b
10 permits (28 pu trucks)i
23 permits (4;600 lb.)i

33 permits (6;920 lb.)j

1 permit(600 lb.)l

1 permit (500 lb.)n
Source: U.S. Forest Service

Key:

a - Hoosier National Forest (Indiana)
b - Nantahala National Forest (North Carolina)
c - Monogahela National Forest (West Virginia)
d - Ozark-St. Francis National Forest (Arkansas)
e - Wayne National Forest (Ohio)
f - Osceola National Forest (Florida)
g - George Washington and Jefferson National Forest (Virginia)
h - Ocala National Forest (Florida)
i - Daniel Boone National Forest (Kentucky)
j - Cherokee National Forest (Tennessee)
k - Ouachita National Forest (Arkansas)
l - Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest (Georgia)
m - National Forests (Shoal Creek Ranger District) in Alabama
n - Pisgah National Forest (North Carolina)

Notes:

1 - Figures in parentheses represent total amount of material authorized for collection under all permits issued for that year.
2 - It is not known whether species were specifically sought for medicinal use or some other purpose
3 - Includes free use permits as volume collected under such permits is large and may involve some level of trade
4 - It is possible that permits were issued for more than one type of plant known as moss: 1) non-vascular bryophytes (tree moss, log moss); or 2) vascular club-mosses (Lycopodium spp.); it is likely most permits were issued for bryophytes
5 - Indicates that permit(s) was issued for collection of multiple species

Preliminary Recommendations for Improving Species Monitoring/Permitting

There is extensive and continuing interest in the collection of bulk raw plant material from public lands managed by BLM and USFS for certain species, some of which are valuable medicinals and enter domestic and international commerce as such. Gaining a better understanding of BLM and USFS lands as a source of plant material for the commercial trade in medicinal herbs, foods and cosmetics and studying the sustainability of this activity should be priorities for both federal agencies.

During Part IV, a more thorough analysis of the permit review and issuance process for medicinal plants in select National Forests in the Klamath-Siskiyou and Appalachian/Blue Ridge regions will be undertaken. The upcoming analysis should help to validate, refine or refute the observations and recommendations made in this report and might identify other areas and needs for improving the USFS system under which medicinal plants harvested from National Forests are monitored and prioritized for management attention. Based on an assessment of USFS permits obtained during Part II, TRAFFIC has identified gaps or deficiencies in the permitting process. Using medicinal plants as a case study, TRAFFIC is recommending that the proposed modifications be implemented to improve the quality and utility of information available to USFS for managing commercially popular special forest products.
 

This is the case for American ginseng, whose permit fee and price per unit of biomass is determined by each National Forest and, in some cases, individual Ranger Districts within National Forests (Table 7). The price for collecting ginseng roots in National Forests in North Carolina is $30 per (wet) pound, or one-third the value of the price ($90/lb.) that dealers pay diggers for ginseng roots (Kauffman pers. comm. 1999). The fee of $30/lb. (wet) is the highest reported for any National Forests. It has also been documented that certain National Forests sell permits for the collection of a minimum amount of plant material. The requirement that a collector pays for a minimum amount of plant material before collection is authorized or permits are issued does not appear to be related to any biological criteria. Setting arbitrarily limits for the minimum number of plants or amount of plant material that may be collected could undermine the management of resources subject to such policies. For instance, the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in Virginia authorize ginseng collection for a minimum of two pounds of wet (fresh) roots ($20/lb.).
The socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds of harvesters and the importance of a transparent permitting process to Forest Service managers suggests that fees for collecting medicinal plant should not be unreasonably or prohibitively high but should reflect the value of the resource and impact of harvest. Where applicable, policies requiring that a minimum amount of raw plant material be purchased as a condition of collection should be reviewed and modified according to scientific guidelines and biological criteria.
The number of permits issued can be a general indicator of species popularity, but it is not necessarily the best reflection of volume of plant material harvested under each permit. A comparison of permits issued for American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) illustrates this point. While more than 5,400 USFS fee permits were issued for American ginseng roots from 1995-97, authorized collection amounts, with a few exceptions, were about 1-2 lb. of roots for each ginseng permit. Contrastingly, only 13 USFS fee permits were issued for an average authorized collection of 1,200 lb. of saw palmetto berries during the same period. The large volume of saw palmetto berries and comparatively smaller amount of ginseng roots approved for collection suggests that the number of permits issued do not correspond with the amounts approved under each permit. For management and enforcement purposes, pre-approved harvest amounts should be compared with amounts actually harvested from BLM lands and National Forests.
Table 7.  Collecting fees and units of measurement for ginseng collection in select National Forests
 
 
State National Forest Collecting Fee Unit of 
Measurement1
North Carolina Pisgah, Nantahala $30.00 Pound
Kentucky Daniel Boone (Stearns Ranger District) $10.00 33 Gallon Bag
Daniel Boone (London Ranger District) $1.00 Pound
Daniel Boone (Somerset Ranger District) $10.00 Bushel
Daniel Boone (Redbird Ranger District) $10.00 Pound
Daniel Boone (Stanton Ranger District) $2.00 Gallon
Daniel Boone (Morehead Ranger District) $10.00 ½ Pound
Virginia George Washington, Jefferson $20.00 Pound
Arkansas Ozark-St.Francis  $15.00 Pound
Georgia Chattahoochee-Oconee $25.00 Pound
Tennessee Cherokee (Hiswassee, Ocoee, Watauga Ranger Districts) $15.00 Pound
Cherokee (Tellico Ranger District) $15.00 Permit
Source: U.S. Forest Service

____________________
1 Refers to wet or green weight.


References


Brevoort, P.  1998.  The Booming U.S. Botanical Market - A New Overview. Herbalgram 44: 33-45

Cobb, B.  1998.  Management of Special Forest Products Program For Region 8 of the U.S. Forest Service. Jun 9, 1998.

Day, K.G.  1997.  In litt. to general public. November 21, 1997.

NBJ.  1998.  Globalization and Integration Bring Change to Supply Chain. Nutrition Business Journal.  June: 3(6).

Duke, J. A. In litt. to Chris Robbins, TRAFFIC USA. February 2, 1998.

Foster, S. In litt. to Chris Robbins, TRAFFIC USA. May 26, 1998.

Foster, S. and J. A. Duke.  1990. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants: Eastern and Central North America.  Peterson Field Guide Series #40.  Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Kauffman, G. Pers. comm. to Chris Robbins, TRAFFIC North America. July 14, 1999.

Mabberley, D.J.  1997.  The Plant Book.  Cambridge University Press.  Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Sheehan, M.  1998.  In litt. to Regional Forester, USDA, Forest Service. June 22, 1998.

U.S. Forest Service. 1998. The Forest Products Conservation & Recycling Review. November. On the World WideWeb:  (http://pc9.fpl.fs.us:80/documents/nltr/nltr1198.htm)


Appendix I.

List of Native North American Plants Identified on U.S. Herb Market and Distributed to BLM and USFS for Information on Permits Issued or Sold for Each Species  
 

USFS Ranger District or BLM District/Area

If you have no amount data other than the number of permits issued, insert that number in the Amount Sold column and insert the maximum amount that could have been collected through the permit  in the space below.
 
WWF/TNC Medicinal Plant List    Permit Maximum Amount  Amount Sold
Botanical Name Family Common Name 1995 1996 1997
POLYGONUM BISTORTOIDES POLYGONACEAE AMERICAN BISTORT
CASTANEA DENTATA FAGACEAE AMERICAN CHESTNUT
PARTHENIUM INTEGRIFOLIUM ASTERACEAE AMERICAN FEVER-FEW
PANAX QU
INQUEFOLIUS
ARALIACEAE AMERICAN GINSENG
PORTERANTHUS STIPULATUS ROSACEAE AMERICAN IPECAC
HEDEOMA PULEGIOIDES LAMIACEAE AMERICAN PENNYROYAL
ARALIA RACEMOSA ARALIACEAE AMERICAN SPIKENARD
NYMPHAEA ODORATA NYMPHAEACEAE AMERICAN WATER-LILY
HAMAMELIS VIRGINIANA HAMAMELIDACEAE AMERICAN WITCH-HAZEL
Arnica spp. Arnica
POPULUS BALSAMIFERA SSP TRICHOCARPA SALICACEAE BALSAM POPLAR
POPULUS BALSAMIFERA SALICACEAE BALSAM POPLAR
ARCTOSTAPHYLOS UVA-URSI ERICACEAE BEARBERRY
CERASTIUM BEERINGIANUM CARYOPHYLLACEAE BERING SEA CHICKWEED
Pedicularis groenlandica Betony
IPOMOEA PANDURATA CONVOLVULACEAE BIG-ROOT MORNING-GLORY
PRUNUS EMARGINATA ROSACEAE BITTER CHERRY
CIMICIFUGA RACEMOSA RANUNCULACEAE BLACK BUGBANE
ILEX VERTICILLATA AQUIFOLIACEAE BLACK HOLLY
SANICULA MARILANDICA APIACEAE BLACK SNAKE-ROOT
NYSSA SYLVATICA NYSSACEAE BLACK TUPELO
JUGLANS NIGRA JUGLANDACEAE BLACK WALNUT
SANGUINARIA CANADENSIS PAPAVERACEAE BLOODROOT
CAULOPHYLLUM THALICTROIDES BERBERIDACEAE BLUE COHOSH
SAMBUCUS CERULEA CAPRIFOLIACEAE BLUE ELDERBERRY
VERBENA HASTATA VERBENACEAE BLUE VERVAIN
IRIS VERSICOLOR IRIDACEAE BLUEFLAG
GRINDELIA SQUARROSA ASTERACEAE BROADLEAF GUMWEED
ALNUS SERRULATA BETULACEAE BROOK-SIDE ALDER
ASCLEPIAS TUBEROSA ASCLEPIADACEAE BUTTERFLY MILKWEED
JUGLANS CINEREA JUGLANDACEAE BUTTERNUT
ESCHSCHOLZIA CALIFORNICA PAPAVERACEAE CALIFORNIA POPPY
ARALIA CALIFORNICA ARALIACEAE CALIFORNIA SPIKENARD
TORREYA CALIFORNICA TAXACEAE CALIFORNIA TORREYA
ERIODICTYON CALIFORNICUM HYDROPHYLLACEAE CALIFORNIA YERBA-SANTA
SOLIDAGO CANADENSIS ASTERACEAE CANADA GOLDENROD
COLLINSONIA CANADENSIS LAMIACEAE CANADA HORSE-BALM
CONYZA CANADENSIS ASTERACEAE CANADA HORSEWEED
LACTUCA CANADENSIS ASTERACEAE CANADA LETTUCE
ASARUM CANADENSE ARISTOLOCHIACEAE CANADA WILD-GINGER
SCROPHULARIA MARILANDICA SCROPHULARIACEAE CARPENTER'S SQUARE FIGWORT
FRANGULA PURSHIANA RHAMNACEAE CASCARA BUCK-THORN
GALIUM APARINE RUBIACEAE CATCHWEED BEDSTRAW
CAPSICUM ANNUUM SOLANACEAE CAYENNE PEPPER
ACACIA GREGGII FABACEAE CATCLAW ACACIA
Prunus virginiana Chokecherry
APOCYNUM CANNABINUM APOCYNACEAE CLASPING-LEAF DOGBANE
CELASTRUS SCANDENS CELASTRACEAE CLIMBING BITTERSWEET
EUPATORIUM PERFOLIATUM ASTERACEAE COMMON BONESET
SAMBUCUS CANADENSIS CAPRIFOLIACEAE COMMON ELDERBERRY
HUMULUS LUPULUS CANNABACEAE COMMON HOP
PHYTOLACCA AMERICANA PHYTOLACCACEAE COMMON POKEWEED
POLYGONATUM BIFLORUM LILIACEAE COMMON SOLOMON'S-SEAL
CHIMAPHILA UMBELLATA PYROLACEAE COMMON WINTERGREEN
ACHILLEA MILLEFOLIUM ASTERACEAE COMMON YARROW
YUCCA FILAMENTOSA AGAVACEAE COMMON YUCCA
LARREA TRIDENTATA ZYGOPHYLLACEAE CREOSOTE BUSH
CASTELA EMORYI SIMAROUBACEAE CRUCIFIXION THORN
VERONICASTRUM VIRGINICUM SCROPHULARIACEAE CULVER'S-ROOT
SILPHIUM PERFOLIATUM ASTERACEAE CUP-PLANT
CHAMAELIRIUM LUTEUM LILIACEAE DEVIL'S-BIT
OPLOPANAX HORRIDUS ARALIACEAE DEVIL'S-CLUB
ARTEMISIA DRACUNCULUS ASTERACEAE DRAGON WORMWOOD
ECHINACEA PURPUREA ASTERACEAE EASTERN PURPLE CONEFLOWER
JUNIPERUS VIRGINIANA CUPRESSACEAE EASTERN RED CEDAR
PINUS STROBUS PINACEAE EASTERN WHITE PINE
ARGENTINA EGEDII ROSACEAE EGEDE CINQUEFOIL
Pedicularis bracteosa Elephant's head
VACCINIUM OVATUM ERICACEAE EVERGREEN BLUEBERRY
LOMATIUM DISSECTUM APIACEAE FERN-LEAVED DESERT-PARSLEY
EQUISETUM ARVENSE EQUISETACEAE FIELD HORSETAIL
VIOLA BICOLOR VIOLACEAE FIELD PANSY
CORNUS FLORIDA CORNACEAE FLOWERING DOGWOOD
RHUS AROMATICA ANACARDIACEAE FRAGRANT SUMAC
CHIONANTHUS VIRGINICUS OLEACEAE FRINGE TREE
POLYGONATUM BIFLORUM VAR COMMUTATUM LILIACEAE GIANT SOLOMON'S SEAL
HYDRASTIS CANADENSIS RANUNCULACEAE GOLDEN-SEAL
GRINDELIA CAMPORUM ASTERACEAE GREAT VALLEY GUMWEED
EPHEDRA VIRIDIS EPHEDRACEAE GREEN MORMON-TEA
JUNIPERUS COMMUNIS CUPRESSACEAE GROUND JUNIPER
ZANTHOXYLUM CLAVA-HERCULIS RUTACEAE HERCULES-CLUB
TRILLIUM ERECTUM LILIACEAE ILL-SCENT TRILLIUM
MONOTROPA UNIFLORA MONOTROPACEAE INDIAN-PIPE
LOBELIA INFLATA CAMPANULACEAE INDIAN-TOBACCO
PEDICULARIS DENSIFLORA SCROPHULARIACEAE INDIAN WARRIOR
ASCLEPIAS SYRIACA ASCLEPIADACEAE KANSAS MILKWEED
VACCINIUM MACROCARPON ERICACEAE LARGE CRANBERRY
CYPRIPEDIUM PUBESCENS ORCHIDACEAE LARGE YELLOW LADY'S-SLIPPER
PROBOSCIDEA LOUISIANICA PEDALIACEAE LOUISIANA UNICORN-PLANT
SCUTELLARIA LATERIFLORA LAMIACEAE MAD DOG SKULLCAP
DRYOPTERIS FILIX-MAS DRYOPTERIDACEAE MALE FERN
ERYNGIUM AQUATICUM APIACEAE MARSH RATTLESNAKE MASTER
PODOPHYLLUM PELTATUM BERBERIDACEAE MAY APPLE
YUCCA SCHIDIGERA AGAVACEAE MOJAVE YUCCA
EPHEDRA ANTISYPHILITICA EPHEDRACEAE MORMON TEA
SPIRAEA ALBA ROSACEAE NARROW-LEAVED MEADOW-SWEET
ECHINACEA ANGUSTIFOLIA ASTERACEAE NARROW-LEAVED PURPLE CONEFLOWER
CEANOTHUS AMERICANUS RHAMNACEAE NEW JERSEY TEA
ADIANTUM PEDATUM PTERIDACEAE NORTHERN MAIDENHAIR-FERN
ZANTHOXYLUM AMERICANUM RUTACEAE NORTHERN PRICKLEY ASH
QUERCUS RUBRA FAGACEAE NORTHERN RED OAK
THUJA OCCIDENTALIS CUPRESSACEAE NORTHERN WHITE CEDAR
FOUQUIERIA SPLENDENS FOUQUIERIACEAE OCOTILLO
POTENTILLA SIMPLEX ROSACEAE OLD-FIELD CINQUEFOIL
JUNIPERUS MONOSPERMA CUPRESSACEAE ONE-SEEDED JUNIPER
GERANIUM OREGANUM GERANIACEAE OREGON CRANE'S-BILL
Berberis nervosa Oregon grape
Ligusticum canbyi Osha
ECHINACEA PALLIDA ASTERACEAE PALE-PURPLE CONEFLOWER
MITCHELLA REPENS RUBIACEAE PARTRIDGE-BERRY
ASIMINA TRILOBA ANNONACEAE PAWPAW
DIOSPYROS VIRGINIANA EBENACEAE PERSIMMON
LIGUSTICUM PORTERI APIACEAE PORTER LOVAGE
CEANOTHUS HERBACEUS RHAMNACEAE PRAIRIE REDROOT
GRINDELIA INTEGRIFOLIA ASTERACEAE PUGET-SOUND GUMWEED
POPULUS TREMULOIDES SALICACEAE QUAKING ASPEN
STILLINGIA SYLVATICA EUPHORBIACEAE QUEEN'S DELIGHT
ALNUS RUBRA BETULACEAE RED ALDER
RUBUS IDAEUS ROSACEAE RED RASPBERRY
EQUISETUM HYEMALE EQUISETACEAE ROUGH HORSETAIL
LESPEDEZA CAPITATA FABACEAE ROUND-HEAD BUSH-CLOVER
LYCOPODIUM CLAVATUM LYCOPODIACEAE RUNNING PINE
SASSAFRAS ALBIDUM LAURACEAE SASSAFRAS
SERENOA REPENS ARECACEAE SAW PALMETTO
ZOSTERA MARINA ZOSTERACEAE SEA-WRACK
POLYGALA SENEGA POLYGALACEAE SENECA SNAKEROOT
XANTHORHIZA SIMPLICISSIMA RANUNCULACEAE SHRUBBY YELLOW-ROOT
Valeriana sitchensis Sitka valerian
SYMPLOCARPUS FOETIDUS ARACEAE SKUNK CABBAGE
ULMUS RUBRA ULMACEAE SLIPPERY ELM
VACCINIUM OXYCOCCOS ERICACEAE SMALL CRANBERRY
VIBURNUM PRUNIFOLIUM CAPRIFOLIACEAE SMOOTH BLACK-HAW
RHUS GLABRA ANACARDIACEAE SMOOTH SUMAC
MYRICA CERIFERA MYRICACEAE SOUTHERN BAYBERRY
ADIANTUM CAPILLUS-VENERIS PTERIDACEAE SOUTHERN MAIDENHAIR-FERN
LINDERA BENZOIN LAURACEAE SPICEBUSH
IMPATIENS CAPENSIS BALSAMINACEAE SPOTTED JEWEL-WEED
CHIMAPHILA MACULATA PYROLACEAE SPOTTED WINTERGREEN
CHAEROPHYLLUM PROCUMBENS APIACEAE SPREADING CHERVIL
VACCINIUM STAMINEUM ERICACEAE SQUAW HUCKLEBERRY
GENTIANA VILLOSA GENTIANACEAE STRIPED GENTIAN
ARISAEMA TRIPHYLLUM ARACEAE SWAMP JACK-IN-THE-PULPIT
BETULA LENTA BETULACEAE SWEET BIRCH
SOLIDAGO ODORA ASTERACEAE SWEET GOLDENROD
LIQUIDAMBAR STYRACIFLUA HAMAMELIDACEAE SWEET GUM
EUPATORIUM PURPUREUM ASTERACEAE SWEET JOE-PYE WEED
MAGNOLIA VIRGINIANA MAGNOLIACEAE SWEETBAY MAGNOLIA
ACORUS AMERICANUS ACORACEAE SWEETFLAG
ACORUS CALAMUS ACORACEAE SWEETFLAG
AGRIMONIA GRYPOSEPALA ROSACEAE TALL HAIRY GROOVEBUR
Berberis AQUIFOLIUM BERBERIDACEAE Tall Oregon grape
GAULTHERIA PROCUMBENS ERICACEAE TEABERRY
PRENANTHES TRIFOLIOLATA ASTERACEAE THREE-LEAVED RATTLESNAKE-ROOT
EPIGAEA REPENS ERICACEAE TRAILING ARBUTUS
JEFFERSONIA DIPHYLLA BERBERIDACEAE TWINLEAF
DIONAEA MUSCIPULA DROSERACEAE VENUS' FLY-TRAP
IRIS VIRGINICA IRIDACEAE VIRGINIA BLUE FLAG
LYCOPUS VIRGINICUS LAMIACEAE VIRGINIA BUGLEWEED
ARISTOLOCHIA SERPENTARIA ARISTOLOCHIACEAE VIRGINIA SNAKEROOT
EUONYMUS ATROPURPUREUS CELASTRACEAE WAHOO
PTEROCAULON VIRGATUM ASTERACEAE WAND BLACKROOT
CAREX AQUATILIS CYPERACEAE WATER SEDGE
ALETRIS FARINOSA LILIACEAE WHITE-TUBED COLICROOT
FRAXINUS AMERICANA OLEACEAE WHITE ASH
QUERCUS ALBA FAGACEAE WHITE OAK
SALVIA APIANA LAMIACEAE WHITE SAGE
CHELONE GLABRA SCROPHULARIACEAE WHITE TURTLEHEAD
VACCINIUM MYRTILLUS ERICACEAE WHORTLE-BERRY
MONARDA FISTULOSA LAMIACEAE WILD BERGAMOT BEE-BALM
PRUNUS SEROTINA ROSACEAE WILD BLACK CHERRY
GERANIUM MACULATUM GERANIACEAE WILD CRANE'S-BILL
HYDRANGEA ARBORESCENS HYDRANGEACEAE WILD HYDRANGEA
EUPHORBIA IPECACUANHAE EUPHORBIACEAE WILD IPECAC
ARALIA NUDICAULIS ARALIACEAE WILD SARSAPARILLA
LACTUCA FLORIDANA v VILLOSA ASTERACEAE Wild Lettuce
SPIGELIA MARILANDICA LOGANIACEAE WOODLAND PINKROOT
VIOLA SORORIA VIOLACEAE WOOLLY BLUE VIOLET
GELSEMIUM SEMPERVIRENS LOGANIACEAE YELLOW JESSAMINE
TAENIDIA INTEGERRIMA APIACEAE YELLOW PIMPERNELL
Zanthorriza simplicissima Yellow root
BAPTISIA TINCTORIA FABACEAE YELLOW WILD-INDIGO
DIOSCOREA VILLOSA DIOSCOREACEAE YELLOW YAM
ANEMOPSIS CALIFORNICA SAURURACEAE YERBA MANSA