Editor's Note: 
This article reports on the collaborative effort by Kelly Kindscher, senior scientist and environmental studies professor at the University of Kansas, United Plant Savers (UpS) and AHPA to research the impacts of root harvest on osha populations "The Forest Service faces the challenge of managing the harvest of medicinal plants in a sustainable manner, so they will be available for traditional and cultural purposes into the future," said Gretchen Fitzgerald, a forester who oversees permits for medicinal plant harvest on the San Juan National Forest. "Research like this will help us obtain biological information to inform our decisions."

Durango Herald
September 7, 2017

One of the medicinal plants found on the San Juan National Forest is osha (Ligusticum porteri), a slow-growing, perennial member of the parsley family. Osha is found in the southern Rocky Mountains and Sierra Madre between 7,000 and 11,000 feet. Large roots, typically from plants at least 10 years old, are favored as an herbal remedy.

"Osha has many traditional uses," said Regi Black Elk of the Oglala Lakota Nation in South Dakota. "It is used for upper respiratory infections. You can chew the root for a sore throat, and it aids in treating colds."

Black Elk, a senior studying American Indian Studies at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, was high atop Missionary Ridge north of Durango last month helping collect data for a research project on the impacts of root harvest on osha populations.

"This work is hard but beneficial, especially if the Forest Service uses it to work with native tribes to save medicinal plants for future generations," said Black Elk as he climbed over downed logs searching for osha sprouts and seedlings to flag amid dense vegetation.

For more news from AHPA, follow us on social media: 

Manage your AHPA email subscriptions
Already subscribed? Manage your alerts by clicking on the "Update Profile" link below.