The environment is under threat - not just in far away and exotic places, but right here on our doorstep too. Many sensitive habitats are under attack from logging companies, miners and developers who see the value of the land only in terms of how it can be exploited for its resources. These attitudes have reigned for too many years. But thankfully the winds of change have finally begun to blow as more and more people are once again ecoming aware of what treasures Mother Earth has to offer. Especially with regard to natural medicine, the dawning realization strikes just in time - the rich natural habitat, which once provided valuable medicines seemingly without end, is facing a serious crisis. The once rich resources are almost exhausted - for too long nobody cared about giving back to Mother Earth, ensuring that the same richness be preserved for generations yet to come. Now we are facing the consequences of these greedy days and are having to pay the price for it. If we do not act now and help preserve the natural resources that are left, future generations will not have a choice, for these threatened species will have gone forever.

United Plant Savers is an organization called into being by a group of dedicated and concerned herbalists, many of whom, having worked a s wild-crafters came face to face with these burning issues and have decided to respond to natureís call for help with positive action. If not us - who will be a voice for Mother Nature and the healing herbs under threat from exploitation? Such questions eventually moved these herbalists to action and thus United Plant Savers was formed.

Richard Liebmann N.D., the executive director of United Plant Savers (UpS), describes the situation as follows:

":...American medicinal plants are disappearing due to urbanization, destructive logging practices and agriculturization at a rate of over 2,000 acres a day and due to over harvesting to supply the sky rocketing demand for natural medicines. Entire species of medicinal plants are threatened with extinction-- and we face the loss of irreplaceable resources for natural healing.

United Plant Savers (UpS) is a non-profit, grass roots membership organization dedicated to preserving native medicinal plants. Our members include herbalists, botanists, health professionals, organic farmers, business owners and others who care about the earth and our medicinal plants. Our mission is to protect threatened medicinal plants and the land that they grow on and ultimately to ensure an abundant supply of medicinal herbs.

United Plant Savers activities include:


People often feel that one personís effort is hardly enough to make a difference. Whilst working in isolation does tend to leave us feel overwhelmed and powerless, sharing our views and feelings with others soon makes us realize that we are not alone. Each individualís efforts count, both directly and indirectly as one inspires many.

  1. Inform yourself about the natural habitat of which you are a part, who co-habits your bioregion?
  2. Adopt a piece of woodland, monitor its biodiversity, become a voice for it.
  3. Replant threatened species in their natural habitats.
  4. Support United Plant Savers, become a member, read their newsletter and share the information with others.
  5. Organize informational events at which you can share your concerns with your community.
  6. Organize planting parties. Grow your own medicinal herbs organically.
  7. Discourage the use of weed-killers and insecticides in your area.
  8. Write letters to the editors of your local paper. Bring attention to conservation issues in your area.

Think globally - act locally!

One of United Plant Savers projects seeks to identify Ďat risk speciesí among indigenous North American medicinal plants. This project is an on-going effort in monitoring plant communities in various bioregions. Any concerned individual is invited to support this effort by reporting on the occurrence of such species in their own particular bioregion. What follows is Plant Savers mission statement and a preliminary Ďat riskí plant list.

Mission Statement:
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 presently in decline due to expanding popularity and shrinking habitat range.

1. American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
2. Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
3. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
4. Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
5. Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
6. Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
7. Helonias Root (Chamaelirium luteum)
8. Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) Hawaii only
9. Lady Slipper Orchid (Cyprepedium spp.)
10. Lomatium (Lomatium dissectum)
11. Osha (Ligusticum porteri, L., spp.)
12. Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens)
13. Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
14. Sundew (Drosera spp.)
15. Trillium, Beth Root (Trillium spp.)
16. True Unicorn (Aletris farinosa)
17. Venusí Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula)
18. Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa, D. spp.)

This list does not reflect any official (CITES) statement on endangered species, though some of the plants mentioned here are indeed under official protection. The purpose of this list is to raise awareness and promote conservation action now, before these plants become endangered or worse, extinct. A further selection of plants has been proposed for inclusion in this list. These are not yet included in any public statement, and feedback is encouraged.

Arnica (Arnica montana)
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Calamus (Acorus calamus)
Chaparral (Larrea tridentata)
Elephant Tree (Bursera microphylla)
Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis)
Gentian (Gentian spp.)
Goldthread (Coptis groenlandica)
Lobelia (Lobelia spp.)
Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pendatum)
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)
Oregon Grape Root (Mahonia spp.)
Pink Root (Spigelia marilandica)
Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)
Spikenard (Aralia racemosa, A.californica)
Stone Root (Collonsonia canadensis)
Stream Orchid (Epipactis gigantea)
Turkey Corn (Dicentra canadensis)
Virginia Snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria)
White Sage (Salvia alpine)
Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica)
Yerba Santa (Eriodictyon californica)

Please support Plant Savers efforts by giving your feed back concerning these and other plants you may feel should be included in this list, to Richard A (Richo) Cech at [email protected]

For further information about United Plant Savers, how to become a member and support their efforts, please direct your inquiries to: [email protected] or visit their website at: