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Green Medicine > 2005 Colorado Inventory & Monitoring Project

2005 Medicinal Plant Working Group - Garden Club of America
Partners for Plants Proposal
Native Medicinal Plant Inventory & Monitoring

Title: Osha (Ligusticum porteri)
Rio Grande National Forest (Colorado)

Purpose: To utilize established partnerships between the Garden Club of America-Partners for Plants (GCA-PfP) and the Plant Conservation Alliance-Medicinal Plant Working Group (PCA-MPWG) to inventory and monitor the effect of harvest on the native medicinal plant Ligusticum porteri. This marks the third year of collaborative research efforts. This project is part of a long-term data collection effort that will improve our understanding of the ecological status and sustainability of L. porteri. Nearly 100% of osha is wild-harvested.


  • Monitor established sites using field monitoring protocol (see Annex II).
  • Collate and assimilate data.
  • Analyze and discuss results with project leaders, other researchers and government agencies.
  • Summarize results for GCA and other partners at the end of the field season.

In the short-term, this information will provide important census and ecological data. In the long-term, it will assist the Forest Service and other land management agencies to better determine the sustainable yields for this important medicinal plant species.

Target species: Osha, Ligusticum porteri, is a plant in the Apiaceae family. It grows in higher altitudes, usually above 6,000 ft. in moist aspen groves. It is widely used by native people–Zuni and Mexican cultures. It is also collected from the wild in commercial quantities by the herbal industry. The root is harvested after the seeds form in September. It is used as a talisman to ward off snakes, as well as for stomach and respiratory ailments. Tea, tinctures and cough syrups are the most common forms of delivery. Conservative estimates from industry indicate that an excess of 30,000 pounds of osha was harvested from 1997 to 2001. During that time, only 1% of the harvest was from cultivated sources. Increasing popularity, limited populations, difficulties associated with harvest of osha, and lack of long-term ecological data make a long-term monitoring study critical.

Location and date of 2005 study: The osha study will be conducted August 19, 20, and 21 at Cumbres pass on Rio Grande National Forest lands. The sites will be identified by Forest Service staff, Vince Spero, and Trish Flaster, Botanical Liaisons LLC, will serve as Project Manager. Forest Service and Denver Botanic Gardens personnel will oversee the data collection with Trish, with volunteers from local chapters of the Garden Clubs of America (incl. Santa Fe, Colorado Springs, Denver), regional universities, native plant society, and other community volunteers, who will implement the field monitoring protocol. The Project Manager will provide volunteers with guidance and supervision to ensure that data collection is consistent with the protocol.

2005 Field Days: The scheduled dates for the Chama project will go forward rain or shine. Team Leaders will meet earlier on August 19th, set up the site and lead and later introductions and volunteer orientation (e.g., review goals and discuss site layout, plot sizes, data collection, etc.).

Volunteer Needs and Physical Requirements: This site can accommodate a minimum of 25 volunteers. Volunteers will carpool with lead drivers to reach the site. Denver Botanic Gardens staff (DBG) and Forest Service employees will familiarize volunteers with osha and other plants found in the 5% cover of the area, either through photos or live plant material. Plot cards, measuring tapes, pencils, and other necessary materials to record data will be distributed. All observations should be recorded on plot cards. Leaders will demonstrate to the group the monitoring methods before dividing volunteers into smaller work groups. At the close of the day Team Leaders will collect plot cards and discuss observations. This year, we will also be conducting volunteer surveys to obtain feedback from you on your experiences during the study.

The site is remote. Wear appropriate clothing for fieldwork. Be prepared for rain, sun and insects. If available, volunteers are also requested to bring digging tools, measuring tapes (metric only) and sticks, pencils and paper. At locations where there are existing trails (human or animal) care must be taken to stay on the trails so as not trample vegetation.

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Last Updated: 02-Jun-2005