What are Wildcrafted Herbs?

December 06, 2010

Wildcrafting

It’s common to see “organic” herbal ingredients on everything from teas to shampoos to toothpaste. A category of herb you don’t see nearly as often is “wildcrafted”. What exactly are wildcrafted herbs?

Long before USDA certification was the gold standard in the personal care industry, gathering all natural herbs was called wildcrafting. As a sustainable practice, herbalists gather roots, leaves, and seeds at the correct time of year during their highest potency. Careful to only gather a small percentage of any stand, wildcrafters have been ahead of their time in preserving the earth’s resources. In 1995, leaders in the wildcrafting industry founded United Plant Savers in an attempt to establish the best practices for ethical harvesting.

As the demand for herbal ingredients exploded, herbalists and product manufacturers realized that harvesting from wild stands of herbs was not going to be sustainable for the long term. The demand, especially for roots, was simply too great. At the same time, the process of farming with organic certification grew, as did the demand for certified products. Today,  many herbs are grown on certified organic  farms in an attempt to provide a steady source of raw materials for our industry.

For more information on herbal wildcrafting practices and the herbs that inspired many Motherlove products, consider reading the Pocket Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants. Written by Motherlove’s founder, Kathryn Higgins, the book also lists color photos with edible and medicinal uses, gathering information, and further references for identifying, cooking, and healing with wild plants.

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