As herbs become more and more popular as medicine, plants are being put at risk. Wild medicinal and aromatic plants are diminishing at an astonishing rate. It is true that many of the endangered plants are the best plants to use for women’s health and are the most helpful in pregnancy and birth. Their uses have been passed down from midwife to midwife and grandmother to granddaughter for centuries. It is critical that we preserve these plants by cultivating them and using alternative plant sources with similar properties whenever possible. If you live in their natural habitat, I encourage you to ‘expand’ their areas by planting them, thereby increasing their numbers. Many do not do well in ‘gardens’ or outside their natural habitats. As herbalists and midwives we can share those plants that do well where we live with others in different areas of the country, each of us doing our part to save these plants.
Endangered and at Risk Plants used in Pregnancy & Birth
Some of the more common women’s health, pregnancy & childbirth and infant care plants that are endangered or at risk include the following.
- American Ginseng
- Black Cohosh
- Blue Cohosh
- False Unicorn Root
- Slippery Elm
- Trillium (Beth Root)
- Wild Yam
- Arnica – Arnica spp.
- Lobelia – Lobelia spp.
- Oregon Grape – Mahonia spp.
- Partridge Berry – Mitchella repens
- White Sage – Salvia apiana
- Yerba Mansa – Anemopsis californica
This is just a partial list focused on pregnancy & birth plants.
For a full list and for more information on critical plants or plants to watch out for visit United Plant Savers for a complete list. United Plant Savers is an organization committed to preserving medicinal plants for future generations.
What Can You Do?
Cultivate medicinal plants in your the woods around your home and add them to your herb gardens. I’ve listed a few places you can find live plants to purchase. If you can’t grow them yourself then purchase your herbal materials from known safe sources. I’ve listed some of my favorite sources below. If you find a company not on the list, research it’s harvesting and manufacturing policies and purchase products from companies who grow their own plants or buy from local organic herbal farms. Last but not least, email large companies that are still ‘wildcrafting’ information about the plight of these plants and encourage them to grow their own. Educate all who will listen.
Organization helping to preserve wild plants
United Plant Savers
Nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of native medicinal plants. Great on-line newsletter and current list of “At Risk” medicinal plants.
American Botanical Council
Nonprofit dedicated to promoting safe use of medicinal herbs. Excellent herb reference guide with specific information on hundreds of medicinal herbs.
Purchase live plants and seeds
Purchase Organic & Homegrown
For more resources on midwifery and herbs visit our resources page.