Climate Change Is Reducing Herb Harvests


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We’re back! We had a bit of an interruption in our podcasting schedule, and we’re sorry! We’re moving to our “forever home” very soon, and the podcast took a back burner to online course production work. But we’ve got a plan! This episode and the next two constitute a mini-series on herbalism and climate change. After that, we’ll re-air a few of our favorite episodes from years past. By the time pumpkin spice season hits, we’ll be back again to continue our Herbs A-Z profile series.

Today’s topic was spurred by the many reports of drought conditions around the world, as well as a particular article just a few days old which reported on falling yields of some major botanicals. Chamomile, valerian, elderberry, and pine bark harvests have all declined substantially in recent years, and they’re certainly not the only plants affected. Furthermore, the quality of the plant material available is also being impacted, as variations in moisture and heat lead to differences in phytochemical production.

Declining harvests also means increasing prices – and not just for consumers at the end of the chain. This puts pressures on farmers and distributors to use less ideal methods, to accept lower-quality material, or plants which were harvested unsustainably. It’s important to be selective and thoughtful about our sources for medicinal plants as these pressures build. As individuals – and more importantly, as communities – we can work to reduce the impacts on plants we love, and we can share what we have with those who need it.

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