Dunnville Horticulture Society

Get Growing: Saving endangered native medicinal plants

It’s January! Time to start thinking and planning your garden for this year. I’m not sure about you, but we do like to look at growing species that are either struggling or not very common. We do this especially with pollinator species, herbs, and the occasional vegetable. This year in the Richter’s catalogue there was a list of endangered Native Medicinal Plants and I immediately thought … we have to get a few of these species! Now, what are these plants, what do they do, and which ones should we think of growing?

Richter’s mentions 12 different species that are available to order through them. Those species are: Bethroot, Bloodroot, Black Cohosh, Blue Cohosh, Echinacea, American Ginseng, Goldenseal, Wild Leek, Mayapple, Partridgeberry, Uva Ursi, and Wintergreen. The species that are most at risk in Ontario are Goldenseal, Black Cohosh, and American Ginseng due to overharvesting. As mentioned, all listed can be purchased through Richters (richters.com). It is quite a list, so this is what has made it to our purchase list and why:

Black Cohosh (above): We selected this not just for its medicinal properties. Black Cohosh can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including colds, pain, rheumatism, menopause, and possibly tinnitus. But,  it’s also known as Fairy Candles. It is said that the flowers even glow in the dark, and that it is a great pollinator species, so it should attract our bees.

Bloodroot: This was selected because it has a beautiful flower that looks similar to a water lily. It’s mostly the flower that attracts me, along with the bees. It’s a good pollinator species and it’s also supposed to be good to treat skin conditions such as eczema, skin tags, and moles.

Bethroot: chosen because it’s a red trillium! Although it’s used to treat everything from coughs, bronchial problems, and pulmonary haemorrhage, as well as gastro-intestinal bleeding, diarrhea, and dysenterys, we want to grow it because it’s a red trillium.

Partridgeberry: selected because we know we can harvest the berries for many yummy recipes. However, did you know it can help prevent high blood pressure, urinary tract infections, cardiovascular disease, cataracts, and helps slow aging processes such as memory loss and the deterioration of motor skill, improving circulation, as well as the prevention of certain forms of cancer?

There are many to choose from. Research each plant to see if they will be suitable to your space and gardens. These four listed are what we’re interested in. We have bees and areas where these varieties should thrive, and we won’t need to maintain them much. But at the same time, we like the idea that we can help a struggling species.

Susan and Brad Emery are members of the Dunnville Horticultural Society. If you would like more information on DHS, check out their Facebook page or  website at dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org.

            DHS mourns the loss of member Lester C. Fretz who passed December 23, 2020. Lester was the original contributing columnist for Get Growing. He will be missed by many friends and fellow gardeners.