Save Our Endangered Native Medicinal Plants!

Overharvesting and habitat destruction are threatening native plants. In North America some of our most iconic and important medicinal herbs such as ginseng and goldenseal are now hard to find in the forests where they once were abundant. If we continue to dig these plants from the wild to feed our ever growing demand for botanicals we could lose them forever.

What can we do to save these plants? We can urge industry to source more of these vulnerable botanicals from commercial growers. We can support conservation efforts to protect these plants through organizations such as the United Plant Savers (unitedplantsavers.org) and its program to establish botanical sanctuaries throughout North America. And we can grow these plants in our gardens, start forest gardens to create our own sanctuaries where these plants can thrive.

Why not plan to start your personal sanctuary? Scroll down for some native medicinal herbs available from Richters.

Kina Gegoo Botanical Sanctuary

Richters is proud to sponsor the Kina Gegoo Botanical Sanctuary in Cannington, Ontario. Kina Gegoo is intended to be a safe home for threatened and at-risk medicinal and native plants. Our friend and frequent speaker at Richters, herbalist Penelope Beaudrow, has established the plant sanctuary on land blessed by the Chippewas First Nation of nearby Georgina Island. Kina Gegoo means "All Things in Life" in the Ojibwe language and it symbolizes the essential connectedness of all things in our world, including our precious medicinal plants. Kina Gegoo is a learning centre with a demonstration garden and an evolving mandate to promote the cultivation and responsible usage of native medicinal plants. Workshops, events, and apprenticeships are planned.

For more information please visit the Kina Gegoo Botanical Sanctuary page at Penelope Beaudrow’s The Ginkgo Tree.


Here are some native medicinal plants for your personal sanctuary!


Bethroot

(Red trillium; Birthroot; Wakerobin) Important Native American herb. Tea made from the roots was used for menstrual problems, to induce labour, for menopause, and as an aphrodisiac. Also for coughs, bowel complaints, hemorrhages, asthma, lung disorders and for skin irritations. Woodland perennial, 15-40cm/6-16” high, with deep red flowers in spring. Order it now!


Bloodroot

One of our most beautiful woodland wildflowers often the first to appear in spring. Important dyeplant, first discovered and used by the Native Americans as its name originates from the dark red sap found in the stems and roots. With its medicinal strengths lying in its emetic and expectorant properties, it makes sense that its most important contribution to herbal medicine is its effectiveness against chronic congestive conditions of the lungs. Ideally plants should be located in a partly shaded area where they will get consistent dappled sun exposure. Order it now!


Black Cohosh

North American leafy woodland plant with attractive berries and upright plume-like white flowers. Roots have estrogenic, hypoglycemic, sedative and anti-flammatory properties; used by Native Americans to relieve rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory symptoms and gynecological issues. Today it gains most of its popularity through its role in relieving menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. It is also known as “Bugbane” because it repels insects. Seeds require a warm period (20°C/70°F), followed by cold (5°C/40°F) for successful germination. Another warm period is required for proper development. Sow into fertile, moist, acidic soil. Prefers full to part shade, out of direct sunlight. Roots are typically harvested 3-5 years after seeding to use for medicinal purposes. Order it now!


Blue Cohosh

Blue Cohosh is highly esteemed by the Amerindians, used traditionally to aid in labour, correct heavy menstruation, and treat abdominal as well as urinary conditions. The root portion also has potential as a contraceptive on account of its estrogenic properties. Blue cohosh is native to Eastern and Central North American woodlands, where it is found growing with glossy green or purplish leaves, unremarkable flowers, and bright blue berries. Berry seeds may be roasted and used as a coffee substitute. Prefers full or part shade, and with care you will have flowers within 4 years. Once roots have established, do not relocate. Rhizomes spread to foster new growth. Order it now!


Echinacea

(Coneflower) One of the first things that comes to mind when thinking of herbal medicine, as it is one of the first natural remedies you run to when you feel a cold or flu coming on. Also highly esteemed as a that has been found in medicine cabinets for centuries, and for good reason too! Primarily recognized for its immune stimulating properties. First used by the Native Americans for snakebites, wounds and bruises. Later recognized by Swiss physiotherapist, Alfred Vogel, one of the first to commercialize the healing properties of this herb, giving rise to one of the best known herbal brands “A. Vogel”. Especially useful against upper respiratory tract infections. It does this by preventing destruction of the bodies protective barriers and activating white blood cells. Has also been used as a mouthwash to treat gingivitis. Active compounds found it its flowerheads as well as roots. This is the most commonly grown variety, not as medicinally active as augustifolia variety but faster growing, easier to germinate and longer living, up to 10-20 years while vs the 10 year lifespan of the augustifolia. Unlike augustifolia, pallida does not need cold treatment to germinate. Thrives in full sun and dry to medium well drained soil and rich reddish-purple daisies appear from July to September. Order it now!


Narrowleaf Echinacea

One of the most beautiful prairie wildflowers, adored for its pale purple cone shaped blossoms as well as its medicinal uses, commonly associated with colds & flus. First used by the Native Americans for snakebites, wounds and bruises. Later recognized by Swiss physiotherapist, Alfred Vogel, one of the first to commercialize the healing properties of this herb, giving rise to one of the best known herbal brands “A. Vogel”. More medicinally active than the standard variety, most well known for its ability to strengthen the immune system, acting as both an antiviral and antibacterial, especially useful against upper respiratory tract infections. It does this by preventing destruction of the bodies protective barriers and activating white blood cells. Has also been used as a mouthwash to treat gingivitis. Active compounds found it its flowerheads as well as roots. Thrives in full sun and dry to medium well drained soil. Drought tolerant. Order it now!


Yellow Echinacea

(Yellow coneflower) The only yellow-flowering echinacea. Flowers are 7cm/3” across with chocolate brown centres. Roots contain medicinal constituents similar to those found in E. pallida. Traditionally used like other echinaceas for its antiviral, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects. Requires cold stratification for 1-2 months to break seed dormancy. Prairie native of the Missouri and Arkansas Ozark regions. Order it now!


American Ginseng

ONative of cool hardwood forests throughout eastern and central North America. It has become extinct in many areas and is now cultivated to a large extent in British Columbia, Ontario and Wisconsin. Seeds are planted in hardwood forests or in specially prepared beds anytime from Sept. until the ground freezes. The following spring, the seedlings appear, and in 3 to 6 years they mature. We offer high quality stratified seeds. Detailed growing instructions included. Order it now!


Goldenseal

North American woodplant plant becoming increasingly rare due to its popularity for many internal and external conditions. Contains the alkaloid hydrastine which acts on the mucous membranes to alleviate catarrhal conditions such as sore gums, gastritis, nasal congestion, etc. Order it now!


Wild Leek

(Wood leek; Wild onion; Ramps) Wild leeks – also known as ramps or wild onions – are a prized woodland delicacy in eastern North America. Their addictive garlic-like aroma and onion flavour are driving a wave of popularity among top chefs. Over-harvesting in some areas has forced the government to step in to limit wild foraging. They are not easy to grow from seeds but if everyone plants a few seeds maybe we can slow the loss of this special wild plant. Order it now!


Mayapple

(American mandrake) This woodland perennial, native to eastern United States and southern Ontario and Quebec produces umbrella like leaves with showy white flowers that appear underneath the leaves in April. Its Latin name podophyllum is derived from the Greek word podos or foot referencing the foot like appearance of its leaves. Although the entire plant with the exception of the ripe berries are poisonous, mayapple has been used traditionally by the Huron Native tribe as a purgative. The ripe berries can be eaten and made into preserves. Its medicinal derivatives from the constituent podophyllin, extracted from the roots and leaves, is medically proven to have antiviral and antitumor properties. In fact, it is such a potent antiviral agent that its compounds have been used commercially in podofilox a cream used to treat genital warts and molluscum contagiosum infections. Will go dormant in summer and for this reason roots may be shipped with or without foliage depending on the time of year. Remember, even touching the plant can be irritating to the skin and eyes. Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, fever, headache, coma and death. Prefers shady environments with rich moist soil. Order it now!


Partridgeberry

(Squaw vine; Checkerberry) One of the most attractive low growing woodland evergreen herbs, commonly found in forests throughout eastern North America. Cute four petaled blossoms appear among glossy oval foliage in spring, followed by attractive bright red but tasteless berries in late summer. Tea taken in the last few weeks of pregnancy promotes easier childbirth, according to native American practice. Tea used as a wash for sore nipples. Thrives in organically rich well drained soil in part shade to full shade. Order it now!


Uva Ursi

(Bearberry; Kinnikinnik) An extremely hardy evergreen shrub native to many regions of the Northern Hemisphere, most commonly used medicinally to treat kidney and bladder infections on account of its diuretic, antibacterial and astringent properties. Antibacterial properties have shown to be clinically effective against E. Coli. It has also been shown to increase susceptibility of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to antibiotics. Its alternative name kinnikinnick is an Algonquin word for smoking mixture as the leaves were typically smoked in combination with other herbs in pipes. Produces attractive glossy green leaves and pink bell-shaped flowers that appear from June – September. Flowers transform into bright red berries which make a nice snack for birds and small mammals. Thrives in damp, acidic soil, making a nice ground cover. Order it now!


Wintergreen

Familiar aroma used in mouthwash, toothpaste and chewing gum! This charming low growing evergreen woodland shrub produces white nodding bell shaped blossoms that eventually transform into bright red berries which remain and offer snacks to wildlife over winter. Glossy wintergreen scented foliage turns purple in fall. Makes an excellent shady ground cover! Oil extracts have been shown have powerful antimicrobial and antioxidant effects. The chemical constituent methyl salicylate, found in its oils work similarly to aspirin and can be used as an anti-inflammatory. In the past, leaves have been used topically as a poultice to relieve arthritic pain. Order it now!

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