An article (full text here) warning that climate change is affecting medicinal and aromatic plants
around the world and could ultimately lead to losses of some key
species, was recently published in HerbalGram the journal of the American Botanical Council.
The authors note that species endemic to regions or ecosystems that
are especially vulnerable to climate change, such as alpine
regions, could be most at risk. “After polar regions, alpine areas are changing faster than any other
areas on Earth,” said Jan Salick, PhD, senior curator of ethnobotany at
the Missouri Botanical Garden. “Alpine areas are very important for Tibetan doctors’ use,” explained
Dr. Salick. “They traditionally spend a month each year going into the
mountains to collect plants. A lot of their medicines come from the
mountains.” Therefore, if climatic conditions change in these areas, there is high probability that traditional medicines will also suffer due to the difficulty in cultivating these species as each have niche micro-climate demands.
“As research is emerging on the effects of climate on vegetation in
general, there continues to be a dearth of information on medicinal
(economic) plants,” said Dr. Patricia DeAngelis, botanist at the US
Fish and Wildlife Service and chair of the Plant Conservation
Alliance—Medicinal Plant Working Group.
Another paper that is worth a read on this subject area is:
Klein, J. A., Harte, J., Zhao XinQuan (2008) Decline in medicinal and forage species with warming is mediated by plant traits on the Tibetan Plateau. Ecosystems, 11 (5), pp. 775-789.
Picture: Cloudberry Rubus chamaemorus ©2009 Alain Cuerrier