AHPA Releases Brochures Covering Sustainable Harvesting Practices

Silver Spring, MD—The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has issued two new brochures covering sustainable harvest and good stewardship best practices for oshá (Ligusticum porter) and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). Both brochures are available for free, and both are available in English and Spanish, recognizing the large Spanish-speaking population of wildcrafters. The Spanish translation of the oshá brochure is available here and the Spanish translation of the saw palmetto brochure is available here.

Holly Johnson, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer, AHPA, said in a press release: “We aim to help ensure that the wildcrafters, and other stakeholders involved with collecting botanical materials from wild populations, have access to information that will enable them to act as good stewards of the land. Adherence to these practices will help ensure a sustainable future for medicinal plant species and continued consumer access to beneficial herbs for generations to come.”

Johnson and AHPA’s Project Scientist, Holly Chittum, M.S., managed the initiative, working together with experts from AHPA’s Botanical Raw Materials and Sustainability committees.

The oshá brochure was developed from a multi-year longitudinal study conducted by Kelly Kindscher, Ph.D., and his group at the University of Kansas, a study which received funding from a grant from the AHPA Foundation for Education and Research on Botanicals.

The results of the study allowed AHPA to develop best practices to protect from over-collection and other threats that could limit the long-term viability of oshá populations. The data can also be used to establish science-based policy on long-term sustainable harvest parameters for the species.

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The saw palmetto brochure is Florida-focused, as the majority of saw palmetto fruit is collected in Florida. It includes details on how to obtain a permit in Florida, given that harvesting the berries without this free permit is illegal. It also includes a six-point good stewardship checklist reminding harvesters that, among other important points, the harvest should take place when at least 60% of the fruits are yellow, orange, or black, and all green berries should be left on the plant.

Johnson added that AHPA consulted with the Florida Department of Agriculture, which issues the saw palmetto harvesting permits. She said in the press release: “AHPA’s brochure lists contact information for the agency and we expect the agency will post a link to the brochure on its website as a way to further distribute the material to a broader, relevant audience. We share the goal of ensuring the rules are followed and that overharvesting does not occur.”