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Medicinal plants threatened by changing climates

19 February 2009

A recent article published in the journal of the American Botanical Council, HerbalGram, warns that climate change is affecting medicinal and aromatic plants around the world and could ultimately lead to losses of some key species. snow lotus

BGCI was among the contributers to the article, adding our concerns to those of multiple medicinal plant researchers and conservationists.

The article notes that species endemic to regions or ecosystems that are especially vulnerable to climate change, such as Arctic and alpine regions, could be most at risk. Rhodiola rosea of the Canadian Arctic and snow lotussnow lotus blossoms dryingsnow lotus for sale (Saussurea laniceps, right - in the wild, for sale and drying) of the Tibetan mountains are specifically identified as medicinal species that could face significant threats from climate change.

The article further explores the aspects of climate change that appear to be impacting plants - including medicinals - across the world. For example, climate change has led to shifts in seasonal timing and/or ranges for many plants, which could ultimately endanger some wild medicinal populations. Extreme weather events, meanwhile, have begun to impact the production and harvesting of various medicinal plants. For instance, recent abnormally hot summers have prevented reseeding of medicinal plants such as chamomile (Matricaria recutita) in Germany and Poland, and increasingly severe flooding in Hungary has reduced harvests of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and anise (Pimpinella anisum) in that country.

You can read the full HerbalGram article here or download our related reports:

Plants and climate change: which future?  and Plants for life: medicinal plant conservation and botanic gardens

                                                 climate change cover   medicinal plants report

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