A Peterson Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs

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PETERSONc0Pift'.E'~D GUIDES ~AFIELDGUIDETOWESTERN MEDICINAL PLANTS AND HERBSAFIELDGUID ETOWESTERN MEDICINAL PLANTS ANDSTEVE N A N DFOS T ERCHRISTOPH E RS PO NSORED NAT IO NA L T H E R OG E R .h,~W I LD LI FET O RYB Y F EDE H A TI ONP E TE R SONH OUG H T O N~B OS T ONMI FF L I NNEWHOBB SY OR KANDI NS T I T U TE COM P AN Y 2002Text copyright © 2002 by Steven Foste r and Christoph er Hobb s All rights rese rved For info rm ation abo ut pe rmission to reproduce se lections from this book, write to Permissions , Houghton Mifflin Company, 2 1 5 Park Avenue, New York, New York 1 0003Vi sit our We b site: www. ho ughto nmifflinbooks. co m. PETERSON F IELD G UID ES and PETERSON FI ELD GU IDE SER IES a re registered trademarks of Houghto n M iffl in Compan y.Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data is ava ila ble JSijN 0-395-83807-x JSijN 0-395-83806- 1(fl exi) Book des ign by An ne Cha lmers Typeface: Linotype-Hell Fairfield; Futura Conde nsed (Adobe) Printed in Singapore TWPI09 8 7 6 5 4 32IPRE FACEThe exploration of th e fl ora of th e Am e rican West by Europea n settl ers of North America is a relatively recent undertaking, scarcely two ce nturies old. In th e 1 78 o s th e vast expanses of th e West b ec kon e d people of a scientific turn of mind as well as thos e looking to conquer for political and eco nomi c gain. Spanish ships h ad reached the Pacific Northwes t by the mid-177 os, and Captain James C ook sailed north along th e West Coast on his third expedition to the Pacifi c in r 778. The British sent Captain G eorge Vancouver to search for the elusive Northwes t Passage in 1 792 . Thoug h that passage proved no nexistent, he did examine hundreds of miles of coastline from C alifornia to Alaska . Tn 1 78 6 th e Frenc h Academ y of Scie nces organized an e.>..-pedition led by J ea n - Fran ~ ois de Gala up, comte de La Perous e, to collect information about plants, particularly those tha t would grow in the F re nch clima te . The explorers were to study roots, woods, ba rks, leaves , flowers, fruits , and seeds to asce rtain their potential as "matiere m edicale" - m a teria meclica , or medicin al plants. The expedition, though primarily scientific in purpose , was also charged with learning the exte nt and power of Spanish possessions in the America n \!\Tes t. Th e two ships forming the expedition arrived in California in the summer of 1 78 6 , a time whe n many plants were already dorm ant from th e heat. Potatoes gathered in Chile were left with th e Spanish mission at Monterey. After ten clays at anc hor, th e expedition sailed west to Asia. At Kam chatka, in Russi a, a m e mber of the scie ntific c rew left the ship a nd was sent across the great expanse of Asia to France with journals and records of the expedition's finds to elate. In Fe bruary 1 788, the ships stopped at Bota ny Bay, New South Wal es, Australia, and the leaders arran ged for the shipme nt of im portant journa ls and records to France . After leaving port onPR E F ACEâ&#x20AC;˘· -·-- - ····-·-·-··------February 1 5 , 1788, the ships were neve r heard from again . Their wreckage was discovered forty years later off one of the Solomon Isla nds. AJthough most of the scientific records and collections from the voyage were lost, two packets of seeds collec ted at Monterey by th e expedition 's gardener did m ake their way to Paris and were grown at the J ard in des Plantes. Botanists recognized on e plant as a n ew genus , and in 1 79 1 Lamarck published the n ame Abronia umbellata, a common sand verb e na from San Diego north to th e Columbia River. It was th e earliest California plant described in acceptable scie ntific te rms. Be tween l 787 and 1 793 th e eminent British botanist Sir Joseph Banks, who h ad accompanied Cook on his voyages, sent Archib ald M enzies to the Wes t Coast for extensive plan t collections. Menzies is honored in numerous species nam es such as Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii ). The plants he collected in what are n ow Washington , California , and British C olumbia were depos ited in various E uropean h erbaria . The third Ameri can president, Thomas Jefferson , consummated the purchase of vas t lands wes t of th e Mississippi River from Fran ce in 1 803. In M ay 1 804 , Jefferson sent Captains M eriwether Lewis and William C lark to explore the territory of the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis and C lark returned to St. Louis in Septembe r l 806 with 1 23 new plant species. Many of those species were published in London in 1 81 4 in Frederi ck Pursh's Flora Americae Septentrionalis, considered th e first flo ra to cover the co ntinent, including species from th e Pac ific Northwest. On e of America's bes t-traveled field botanists, the English naturalist Thom as N uttall (1 786-1 859), a rrived in Philadelphia in 1 808, wh ere h e met with Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton, a uthor of one of the first treatises on American medicinal plants , Essays To wards a M ateria Medica of the United States, published in three parts be tween 1798 a nd 1 80 4. Backed by Barton 's pa tronage, Nuttall's travels on th e Missouri River took him as far north and west as so uthe rn North Dakota in 18 11. Two decades later, in r 834, he traveled overland to the Columbia River and collected plants along th e California coast on his way home. Further govern me nt-sponsored scientific expeditions to the West did not occur un til 1 84 1. T hese are ju st a fe w of th e importa nt botanical explorers of th e Ame ri ca n Wes l. Throughout most of th e nin eteenth centu ry, th e botanis ts who explored th e pla nts of th e western United Sta tes co uld be classified as either desc ribe rs or co llec tors. T h e describers primarily worked in the academic institutions of eas tern North America and Europe; it was th e coll ec tors who did the hard field work in the western wilderness . Both a collector a nd a describer, Con-mPREFA C Esta ntine Samu el Rafin esqu e (1783 -r 840), a uthor of Medical Flora; or M anual of the Medical Botany of North America (2 vols., r 82 8, 1 830) , desc ribed th e experience of a botanist traveling in Lhe western wild erness: Le t th e prac tical Botanist who wish es li ke myself to be a pioneer of science, and to increase the knowledge of plants, be fully prepared to meet clangers of all sorts in th e wild groves a nd mo unta ins of America. T he mere fa tigue of a pedes trian jo urn ey is n othi ng co mp ared to the gloo m of soli tary forests, wh ere not a hum an being is met for m an y miles, and if met he m ay be mi strusted ; when th e food a nd collec ti o ns mu st be carried in yo ur pocket o r knap sack from day to clay; wh en the fare is n ot only scanty but som etimes worse; wh en you must live on corn bread a nd salt po rk, be burnt and steamed by a h ot s un at n oon, or drench ed by rain , even wi th an umb rella in ha nd , as I always h ad. M usquiotes [sic] a nd flies will often a nnoy yo u or suck your blood if yo u stop or leave a hurried step. Gna ts dan ce before th e eyes an d often fa ll in u n less yo u shut th em ; in sects creep on you a nd into your ea rs. An ts crawl on yo u wh ere ever yo u rest on th e gro und, wasps will assa il you like furi es if you to uch their n ests. But ticks the wors t of all are un avoida ble wherever yo u go a m ong bush es, and stick to yo u in crowds . . . Th e pleas ures of a botanical explo ra tion fully compe nsate fo r th ese mi seri es and dangers, else n o one wo uld be a traveling Botanist, n or spe nd his tim e and mo ney in vain. Ma ny fa ir-days and fa ir-roads are me t with , a clear sky or a bracing breeze inspires delights a nd ease, you breathe th e pu re air of th e country, eve ry rill a nd brook offers a drink of limpid fluid . .. Eve ry step taken in to the fields, groves, and hills, a ppears to affo rd new enjoym ents, Landscapes an d I la nts join tly meet in your sight. H ere is an old acq ua inta nce seen again ; there a n ovelty, a rare plan t, p ¡rh aps a new one ! greets your view: yo u hasten to plu c k it, exa mine it, admire, and put it in your book. T he n yo u wa lk on thinking wha t it might be, or m ay he mad e by yo u thereaft er. You fe el exultation, you are :1 'Onq ucror, yo u have made a conqu es t over Nat ure, 1o u ur ¡ go ing to add a new object, or a page to sci-PnEFACE1111ence. T his peaceful conquest h as cost no tears . .. To these botanic al pleasures may be add ed th e a nticipation of th e future names , places, u ses, history, &c . of the plants you discover. For the winter or seaso n of rest, a re reserved the sede ntary pleasures of comparing, st udying, n a ming, describing, and publi shin g [as quoted in McKelvey, 1 956, p. xxxix, from Rafin esque, New Flora of N orth. America , 1836]. The descriptive botanists who stayed at their desks include the e lder Augustin Pyra mes de Candolle (1 778-1841 ) in G e neva and Paris; Sir William Jackso n Hooker (1 78 5-1 865) at th e Roya l Bo tanical Garden s a t Kew; John Torrey (1796-18 73) o f New York; the preeminent nineteenth-cen tury Am erican bota nist Asa Gray (1 8 10-1888); and the botanical gatekeeper of the West in St. Louis, George E ngelmann (1 809-r 88 4). Othe r important collec tors and describers of western plan ts include John M. Co ulter (1 85 l - 1928), D avid Douglas (1798- 1 83 4) , Edwa rd L. Greene (18 43-191 5), Wi llis Linn Jepson (1867- 1946), Joseph N. Ro se ( 1 862- 1 928), Per Axe l Rydberg (1 860- 1 93 1 ), a nd Sereno Watson (1 826 - r 892 ). Most of the important ea rly botani sts, including Gray, Torrey, Engelmann, and even Linnae us, were trained as physician s. In the eighteenth century, bota ny was m erely a diversion from pharmacy, which ilsel[ had not ye t fully emerged as a sepa rate academic pu rs ui t. These medical doctors collecte d, describ ed, and published a rticles o n plants new to scie nce. Ironically, most of these m en h ad only a passing in te rest in medicinal plants. By th e mid-nineteenth century, bo tany was accepted as a n acad e mic dis cipline. As westwa rd settlement co ntinue d, professional interest in native plants as sources of me dicines declined. Synthetic dru gs were o n the h orizon and plants were considered "crud e drugs" peddled as nostrums by quacks, "Indian doctors," and medicine sides hows. As a result, fa r fewe r species of western medici nal plants have found co mm erc ia l uses eve n in the mod e rn herb trade t han those fro m eas tern North America , particularl y from eastern deciduous forests in t he first Lwo centuries of E uropea n settlement. Whe n botany mat ured as a distinct aca demic dis cipline , anthropo logy evolved to in clud e di stin c t subcli sc iplines, including, in r 895 , ethn obota ny, th e stud y of the ways in digenou s groups use plan ts. O ne ri c h la boratory for this study was the so uthwes tern United States, wh e re ma ny Native Americ a n groups still survived in th e late nin e teenth a nd early twentieth centuries . Since many of th ese gro ups were c ulturally intac t, and some individualsamPR EFACEre membered the old ways, th ere is far more ethnobota nical information on Native American medicinal plants of th e \Vest, compared with those of eastern North America. Edward Palmer, who collected plants during the heyday of botanical eJq>loration ofthe American West, from 1853 to 191 0, es tablished standards for collec ting plants and for noting their uses; in 1 871 he published Food Products of the North American Indians. The Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE), und er tb e direction of John Wesley Powell, produced many important ethnobotanical studies , including Matilda Coxe tevenson's Ethnohotany of the Zuni Indians (19 1 5) and Jesse \!\falter Fewkes's A Contribution to Ethnohotany (1 896) on the Hopi Indians' us es of plants. These anthrop ologists did not call Lh emselves e thnobotanists. Edward F. Caste tter was the first botanist of th e Southwest to call himself that, followed by Volney H. Jones, who studied und er Melvin R. Gilmore a t the University oFMichigan. Gilmore established the first ethn o bota ni cal laboratory at th e University of Mic hi ga n Museum of Anthropology in 1930 . The Botanical Museum at Harvard Unive rsity, under th e lirec tion of Oakes Ames and students who followed him, includin g Paul Ves tal and the la te Ri chard Evans Schu ltes, produced s ignificant works on southwes tern ethnobotany into th e r 97os . 1:rom an ethnobotanical p erspective, the American Southwest is th e best-studi ed region in th e wo rld. Th is wealth of data is synth esized in Daniel E. Moerman's 1998 book Native American Ethnohotany, whi c h cove rs the food , 1nate ri al, and medicinal us es of 4 ,0 29 species, subspecies, and vari Li es of plants by 291 indige nous groups of North America (and I IDwa ii ). This work has served as the primary source for much of I h · li te rature on western medi ci na l plants listed in the Refer·n ·cs. 1 11 11 1-: \!\/ ES T I N THE N ORTH AME RICA N FLORA'l'h l"l ora of North America north of M exico, includin g th e United Stut · ~, G reenland, and C a nada, consists of a t least 21 ,757 ii pc ·ics of vasc ular plants rep resented by 3, 1 64 ge nera in 29 0 pl unt fami lies . This area encompasses nearly 60 degrees of lati111d ' a nd 1 45 degrees of longitude. Many of th e world's major V('fJ,d<1tio n formations a re included in this dive rse climatic exp11 11s ·. Among the plant co mmunities west of th e M ississippi ltl v ·r a rc tundra and polar desert biomes, boreal forests, montane 1'0 1•t·s ts, l ·rnpc ra te rain forests, prairie, shrub steppes, decicluou s 11 11d ev ·rgr · ·n Forests, chap arra l, a nd warm deserts .PB E FA CEmBoreal forests, or taiga, with low species diversity and dens e stands of coniferous trees, extend from central Alaska to eastern Canada and south to the Great Lakes, spanning 28 percent of the North American landmass north of Mexico. Dominant woody plants include Abies (fir) , Larix (larch) , Picea (spruce), and Pinus (pine). Among th ese vast expanses of forests are bogs and meadows holding herbaceo us plants, m any of which have medicinal uses . For instance, the sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) has been researched for antiviral and antibacterial activity and is used in phytomedicine preparations in Europe. The great grassland vegetation of the midcontinent holds mostly herbaceous plants, along with locally res tricted woody plants. The grasslands include prairies (humid grasslands with dominant tall-grass species), and high plains or steppes (more arid regions with short grasses). The Great Plains once covered between 21 a nd 25 percent of the North American landmass north of Mexico. Its most important contribution to plant pharmacy is the genus Echinacea, especially Echinacea angustifolia. One of the richest sources of medicinal plants is the winter-deciduous vegetation of the eastern forest, which covers 1 1 percent of the continent, extending well west of the Mississippi into eastern Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. This bioregion was the zone in which European settlement made the greatest impact in the first two centuries of colonization. A disproportionately high number of the American medicinal plant species that have entered commerce, both historically and today, come from this vegetation zone. In the thirteen original colonies in the late eighteenth century, there was an effort to develop medicines from n ative medicinal plants. Most of the native species used at the inception of the United States Pharmacopoeia in 1 820 came from eastern dec iduous forests, and almost all of the n ative plant species used in medicine a t that tim e are still commercially trad ed today, most as ingredien ts in die tary supplements. In a sense, the exploration of medicinal plants of western North America is still in its infancy. The e cological diversity forced by th e West's harsh environmental extremes h as stimulated the evolution of secondary metabolites - chemical compounds that have biological effects in humans - in many plants. Among the western bioregions with the greatest potential for bi6active plants are the vast desert ex'Pa ns es, which are la rgely dominated by woody pla nts. The C hihuahuan , Sonoran, and Mojave deserts a nd the semiarid intermounta in regions include the desert scrub biome, which accounts for 5 p ercent of the North American landmass north of Mexico. These unique floristic zones are home to thousands of potentially bioactive species, amongIIPH EFACEth em Ephedra (ephedra), Larrea (chaparral), Yucca, Agave, Opuntia (prickly pear), and Simmondsia Uojoba). M editerranean/Madrean sc rub and woodland vegetation zones extend from Oregon to M exico . Medite rranea n ecosys tems are found in only five places in th e world - th e M editerranean region, South Africa's Cape of Good Hope, southern and sou thwes tern Au stra lia , central C hile, and the area from southern Oregon to n orthern Baja C alifornia. The ecosys te m is characterized by hot dry s umm ers and less th an 3 p ercent ann ual h o urs of frost. The North American Mediterranean zone includes a varie ty of habita ts, including mixed evergreen forests, oak woodland , a nd grasslands , plu s vario us typ es of scrubland. The Madrea n zones, characterized predominantly by evergreen species , s uch as oaks , extends from central Arizona a nd south ern New Mexico to so uthwes tern Texas. Both Mediterranea n and M adrea n zo nes include many indigenous aromatic plants. The vast majority of these species h ave not been investigated for biologically ac tive chemicals. Interestingly, most of the culina ry a nd aromatic herbs of European tradition sage, thyme, rosemary and other fam iliar herbs - originate from similar climatic conditions in the M editerra nean regio n . The ri chly divers e a nd productive Pacific Coast coniferous fores t, extendi ng from Monterey Co unty, California, to Cook Inlet, f\ laska, and covering abo ut 3 pe rcent of North America, contains so me of the world's longest-lived m assive tree species. Famous I rees of this biome are the redwood a nd gia nl seq uoia of Californi a, western h emlock, Douglas-fir, and Sitka spruce. One commo n, but historically neglec ted subcanopy tree - th e Pacific yew (' lc1xus brevifolia) - has been the su bj ect of inte nsive scien tific r ·sea rch in recent years. ILs bark served as the first commercial ~ ource of the a ntican ce r drug paclitaxel (a lso known by its trade 11:1me, Tawl), which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (l' Df\) has approved for us e in chemoth erapy for certain for ms of ova ri an and breast canc ers. In th e future it will be approved as a t li motherap eutic agent for other diffi c ult-to-trea t forms of can·c r. T he development of paclitaxel h as highlighted the proble ms of' o btainin g drugs from natural sources, especially that of sec uring a n adequate, su stainable supply of raw ma terial. At first the l'Ompo und was derived exclusively from the bark of the Pacific 1c;w, whic h created both supply shortages and co nservation con<'l' rn s; now, h owever, it is made by a semisynthe tic process from l il l' n cclles of the widely cultivated En glish yew (Taxus baccata ). /\dd iLio na l western montane coniferous forest fl oris tic regions ti l' lud • Lhe Hocky Mo untain fores ts, Pacific North west m onta n e l'orl's l s, Lh c monta ne forests of AJta a nd Baja C aliforni a, a nd thePB EFACEElfores ts of the inte rmountain region. In all of these regions, conife rs a re th e do minant trees. T hi s ric h collec tion of biomes provides a diverse fl ora with grea t potenti al for discovery of plants with medicinal va lu e. Althou gh we h ave some lmowledge of how Native American groups used th e pla
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