Climate Change Threatens Medicinal Plants
Published April 1, 2009
Global climate change could ultimately lead to losses of key medicinal and aromatic plant species, according to researchers and conservationists whose findings are reported in HerbalGram, the quarterly journal of the American Botanical Council (ABC). The article, “The Effects of Climate Change on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants,” is based on recent climate change research and the perspectives of 15 scientific researchers, medicinal plant conservation experts and others. Species endemic to regions or ecosystems that are especially vulnerable include Arctic and alpine regions, according to experts. Rhodiola rosea of the Canadian Arctic and snow lotus (Saussurea laniceps) of the Tibetan mountains are specifically identified as medicinal species that could face significant threats from climate change. The article further explores effects of climate change that appear to be impacting other plants—including medicinals—throughout 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 impacting the production and harvesting of various medicinal plants around the world. For instance, recent abnormally hot summers have prevented reseeding of medicinal plants such as chamomile (Matricaria recutita) in Germany and Poland, while increasingly severe flooding in Hungary has reduced harvests of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and anise (Pimpinella anisum).