ND Game and Fish
By the early 1990's, Echinacea was becoming incredibly popular in the U.S. Perhaps, too popular for its own good. The plant has been long-revered by Amercian Indians and German physicians for its immune-boosting effects. The most popular part of the plant is its roots. As the 1990's progressed, and demand sky-rocketed, poachers began digging Echinacea angustifolia roots and all, from wild stands on public and private lands.
There was great concern over this activity since digging the plant up whole left little chance of rejuvenation. Many people heard the cries of Echinacea and came to help. During the late 90's the North Dakota state legislature passed a law that included strict penalties for poaching. Around the same time, more and more farmers and herbal companies began growing Echinacea for the medical community. Consumers of Echinacea products began asking where their Echinacea was coming from and natural health stores asked their suppliers for sustainably harvested Echinacea. Thanks to these efforts, it appears as though the plant has adverted this threat.
I felt it was important to tell this story in order
to demonstrate just how pervasive Western mind-traps such as domination
and exploitation are, even in modern society. The fact that we
could succumb to our colonial and industrial instincts of exploitation
in regards to Echinacea shows that we have some maturing to do
before we can come to understand the prairie ecosystem and live
harmoniaously with it.
Below are some links to groups and resources dedicated to the use of plants in a responsible, more sustainable manner. I have also included a relevant article on endangered herbs. You will also notice links to a couple of sample letters that were used by consumers and store owners in the late 1990's to raise awareness about the threat to Echinacea at that time. I need to point out that these letters are only shown here to document the activism that took place around this issue and should not be used as some of the information in them is no longer valid.
United Plant Savers- this nationally recognized group works hard to identify and save at - risk plants through education and cultivation .
*At Risk Plant List"Endangered Herbs and Bioregionalism" - excellent article by Howie Brounstein
*Wildcrafting with Integrity
*UPS Resource List for Ordering and Growing Herbs
Letter to Stores
*Sample Letter to Suppliers