WHAT IT MEANS: You can do your part to save these medicinal plants; it just takes a little extra time on the Internet or in your backyard garden.
Here are three ways to get started:
1: Set up a sanctuary. Anyone with a backyard garden or patch of wild forest on his or her property can join United Plant Saver’s Botanical Sanctuary Network, says Linda LeMole, executive director of United Plant Savers. It requires a $100 registration fee (plus $35 for membership), but the organization will send you seeds or roots to grow your own medicinal plants, as well as dispatch an expert to help you identify any existing plants already on your property.
2: Grow plants just for fun. If creating a plant sanctuary is too much work, simply planting a few herbs can help ensure the survival of a species, says Bussmann. “The best thing you can do is to preserve the original environment in which [medicinal] plants are grown,” he says. “But if you plant the plant in your backyard, you will keep it alive.” A few years down the line, you could help transplant the species back into its native environment. You can consult United Plant Saver’s “At-Risk” list for a list of the threatened species in the U.S. “Just growing herbs in your garden really enhances the strength of the other plants,” says LeMole.
3: Do a background check. Go online and check the corporate sustainability policies of your favorite supplement manufacturer. “Most of the supplements you buy are going to have ingredients that are wildcrafted,” LeMole says, “and you need to see where they source their plants.” Some of the companies that are doing well in this arena, she notes, are Herb Pharm, Traditional Medicinals, and New Chapter, and you can see a complete list of United Plant Savers’ corporate members on their site.