Mq

HQ = High quantities (>1GGG t/a); MQ = medium quantities (^-^G t/a); LQ = low quantities (<1W t/a).

HQ = High quantities (>1GGG t/a); MQ = medium quantities (^-^G t/a); LQ = low quantities (<1W t/a).

3.5.1 Wild Collection and Sustainability

Since prehistoric times mankind has gathered wild plants for different purposes, among them are aromatic, essential oil-bearing species used as culinary herbs, spices, flavoring agents, and fragrances. With increasing demand of standardized, homogeneous raw material in the industrial societies more and more wild species have been domesticated and systematically cultivated. Nevertheless, a high number of species is still collected from the wild due to the fact that

• Many plants and plant products are used for the subsistence of the rural population.

• Small quantities of the respective species are requested at the market only which make a systematic cultivation not profitable.

• Some species are difficult to cultivate (slow growth rate and requirement of a special microclimate).

• Market uncertainties or political circumstances do not allow investing in long-term cultivation.

• The market is in favor of "ecological" or "natural" labeled wild collected material.

Especially—but not only—in developing countries, parts of the rural population depend economically on gathering high-value plant material. Less than two decades ago, almost all oregano (crude drug as well as essential oil) worldwide came from wild collection (Padulosi, 1996) and even this well-known group of species (Origanum sp. and Lippia sp.) were counted under "neglected and underutilized crops."

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium s.l.), arnica, and even chamomile originate still partly from wild collection in Central and Eastern Europe, and despite several attempts to cultivate spikenard (Valeriana celtica), a tiny European mountain plant with a high content of patchouli alcohol, this species is still wild gathered in Austria and Italy (Novak et al., 1998, 2000).

To regulate the sustainable use of biodiversity by avoiding overharvesting, genetic erosion, and habitat loss, international organizations such as IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), WWF/TRAFFIC, and World Health Organization (WHO) have launched together the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 2001), the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (CBD, 2002), and the Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity (CBD, 2004). These principles and recommendations address primarily the national and international policy level, but provide also the herbal industry and the collectors with specific guidance on sustainable sourcing practices (Leaman, 2006). A standard for sustainable collection and use of medicinal and aromatic plants [the international standard on sustainable wild collection of medicinal and aromatic plants (ISSC-MAP)] was issued first in 2004 and its principles will be shown at the end of this chapter. This standard certifies wild-crafted plant material insofar as conservation and sustainability are concerned. Phytochemical quality cannot, however, be derived from it which is the reason for domestication and systematic cultivation of economically important essential oil plants.

3.5.2 Domestication and Systematic Cultivation

This offers a number of advantages over wild harvest for the production of essential oils:

• Avoidance of admixtures and adulterations by reliable botanical identification.

• Better control of the harvested volumes.

• Selection of genotypes with desirable traits, especially quality.

• Controlled influence on the history of the plant material and on postharvest handling.

On the other side, it needs arable land and investments in starting material, maintenance, and harvest techniques. On the basis of a number of successful introductions of new crops a scheme and strategy of domestication was developed by this author (Table 3.8).

Recent examples of successful domestication of essential oil-bearing plants are oregano (Ceylan et al., 1994; Kitiki 1996; Putievsky et al., 1996), Lippia sp. (Fischer, 1998), Hyptis suaveolens (Grassi, 2003), and T. lucida (Goehler, 2006). Domesticating a new species starts with studies at the natural habitat. The most important steps are the exact botanical identification and the detailed description of the growing site. National Herbaria are in general helpful in this stage. In the course of collecting seeds and plant material, a first phytochemical screening will be necessary to recognize chemotypes (Fischer et al., 1996; Goehler et al., 1997). The phytosanitary of wild populations should also be observed so as to be informed in advance on specific pests and diseases. The flower heads of wild Arnica montana, for instance, are often damaged by the larvae of Tephritis arnicae (Fritzsche et al., 2007).

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