Resprouting ofEchinacea angustifoliaAugments Sustainability of Wild Medicinal Plant Populations

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Overharvest of wild Echinacea species root has been a significant concern to the herbal industry. Harvesters of wild Echinacea angustifolia showed us that even after harvesting the top 15 to 20 cm of root, some plants resprout. We marked locations of harvested plants at sites in Kansas and Montana and reexamined them two years later to see if they resprouted from remaining root reserves. Approximately 50% of the roots resprouted at both Kansas and Montana sampling sites, despite droughty weather conditions in Montana. The length of root harvested significantly affected the ability of the plant to resprout. Those plants that were more shallowly harvested and had less root length removed were more likely to resprout. These data indicate that echinacea stands can recover over time from intensive harvest if periods of nonharvest occur. Our echinacea harvest study emphasizes that the entire biology of medicinal plants must be considered when evaluating their conservation status.

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